A marine was riding his motorcycle in North Florida last January when he hit a pothole that caused him to suffer a broken leg. A few days after arriving at a hospital, the Marine passed away.
The family of the deceased was in shock and claimed that the hospital killed their son by delaying his treatment and neglecting to put him on a monitor. However, an obscure state law prevented them from taking any legal action against the hospital.
A peculiar part of Florida’s medical malpractice law
A statute of Florida law prevents loved ones of anyone over the age of 25 who has no spouse or children from pursuing a medical malpractice claim.
The deceased Marine was engaged and had helped raise his fiancé’s daughter since she was three. However, he was technically classified as unmarried and without children. Thus, the law barred both his fiancé and the rest of his family were from filing for medical malpractice.
This peculiar state law has been in place for nearly thirty years. Lobbyists and law makers claim that the law protects hospitals and doctors from “frivolous lawsuits.” Critics of the rule claim that it discriminates against a certain group of people by preventing their loved ones from seeking justice after a death.
Indeed, this family is not the only ones affected by this statute in recent years. In 2014, a 39-year-old special needs patient passed away after medical staff administered a high dose of sedatives. The parents of this family were also prevented from pursuing medical malpractice charges.
Unfortunately for these families, there is not much they can do to seek justice for these tragedies. However, the family of the deceased Marine is pushing for reform on this law. Though the 2019 legislative session has ended, the sister of the deceased pledges to continue to fight for reform for years to come.