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Florida State Law Prevents Family of Marine from Filing Wrongful Death


The week before, we touched on the Feres Doctrine and how it limits active duty soldiers from suing the federal government for injuries incurred in the line of duty even when those injuries occurred as a result of medical malpractice. In addition to facing federal roadblocks to recovering damages for medical malpractice, everyone in Florida faces a state roadblock. Here in Florida, Florida State Statute Section 768.21, otherwise known as Florida’s wrongful death act, limits the recovery options available to those who don’t have a spouse, don’t have children, and are over the age of 25.

Now, a Port St. Lucie family, having been barred from filing a lawsuit against a North Florida hospital, is lobbying to change the law that preventing them from filing a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital who they say failed to help their loved one.

Their son was 32-year-old Trevor Snyder who was taken to a nearby hospital after a motorcycle accident. According to the lawsuit, Trevor hit a pothole which caused him to lose control of his bike. The result of that accident was a broken leg. Trevor went to a nearby hospital to receive treatment during which he called his family and let them know that he was okay. The injury did not appear to be life-threatening. But the next morning, he was dead.

What Happened? 

According to the family, Trevor required surgery for the broken leg, but for whatever reason, the surgery was delayed. The hospital did not have Trevor on a monitor to record his vitals or alert them if something went wrong. Additionally, the medical records seem to indicate that Trevor’s vitals were in tip-top shape even an hour and a half after he had died. The family was justifiably suspicious about the quality of care he received.

The Statute Known as the ‘Free Kill Law’ 

In cases where a medical malpractice victim is over the age of 25, his parents cannot initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. If that individual has no children and no spouse, then the law normally bars anyone from initiating the lawsuit. The law is unique insofar as wrongful death lawsuits go. In many states, it’s the estate of the victim that can initiate the wrongful death lawsuit and recover damages that are then distributed to loved ones. In Florida, the estate can initiate the lawsuit only to recover economic expenses. Grief, loss of income, loss of affection, and other pain and suffering damages are limited only to parents with children under the age of 25, spouses, or children of the deceased.

It’s a bizarre statute that limits close family members from getting closure when their loved one is taken from them and gives doctors who provide substandard care to their patients a free pass, if they die due to medical negligence.

Talk to a Tampa Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death Attorney 

If you’ve lost a loved one due to medical negligence or medical malpractice, the Tampa medical malpractice attorneys at Masterson, Hoag & Smith can recover damages for you and your family. Give us a call or talking to us online to set up a free consultation.




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