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Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Personal Injury > Florida Legislators Seek To Do Away With Florida’s “Free Kill” Law

Florida Legislators Seek To Do Away With Florida’s “Free Kill” Law


Generally speaking, the parents of adult children can file wrongful death lawsuits if their children are injured or killed due to negligence. There is one exception, however: Medical malpractice lawsuits. According to what’s been called the “free kill” provision under the wrongful death statute, parents are prohibited from filing wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of children aged 25 or older. If the child is unmarried and has no children, it makes it so no one can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.

Over the years, plaintiffs and legislators have drawn attention to the law because it is patently unfair for parents of adult children and prevents doctors from being held accountable in certain situations. That could change, however, as the legislature is considering the passage of SB 248 which would once again allow the parents of those aged 25 and over to sue medical caregivers for wrongful death. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure by a vote of 8-0 recently.

The history of the “free kill law” 

In 1990, as part of an effort to limit costly medical malpractice insurance rates, the Florida state legislature passed several rules limiting damages in medical malpractice lawsuits and restricting who can sue in these cases. While the damage caps were struck down as unconstitutional, some of the language remained. One of the provisions that survived the court’s reversal of the law was the barrier for parents of adult children over age 25 on filing wrongful death lawsuits when their children are killed due to medical malpractice.

“Reducing medical malpractice premiums in 1990 was a worthy goal, but putting a ban on certain individuals, so that they cannot access the judicial system is an injustice,” said Clay Yarborough, a Florida Republican.

While Yarborough and others acknowledged that expanding the class of plaintiffs to include parents of adult children could lead to higher medical malpractice premiums in the years ahead, he also noted that Florida medical providers already face some of the highest insurance costs in the nation.

To counter the potential uptick in medical malpractice insurance costs, the new rule would cap noneconomic damages at $500,000 for medical practitioners and $750,000 for non-practitioners. Several states across the country cap “noneconomic” damages related to medical malpractice lawsuits, otherwise known as “pain and suffering damages” that compensate a victim for decreased quality of life.

Originally, Florida rules capped overall damages on medical malpractice lawsuits. However, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the measure as unconstitutional. Several other states have fought similar battles related to capping medical malpractice lawsuits. As of now, there is no cap on either economic or noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, but Florida parents cannot file wrongful deaths on behalf of their adult children. The new measure would have a vast impact on the legal landscape of medical malpractice lawsuits in the state of Florida.

Talk to a Jacksonville, FL Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

Have you been injured due to the negligence of another party? Gillette Law represents the interests of plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits filed in Jacksonville and the surrounding area. Call our Jacksonville personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation, and we can begin discussing your case right away.



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