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Is Florida’s Wrongful Death Act discriminatory?

Florida stampDiscrimination is something we hear about every day; race discrimination, sexual preference discrimination, religious discrimination and age discrimination.  Discrimination seeps into every part of our lives, but you wouldn’t expect it to follow you into court if you filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death laws allow for survivors to seek damages for support and services that the decedent would have provided for them for the remainder of the decedents natural life and earning potential.  The problem one may find that some feel is discriminatory is when grown children are filing a wrongful death lawsuit due to medical malpractice for a beloved parent who was aged 60 and up and was on a fixed income.  The only reimbursement to those children would be for medical and funeral expenses.

Another example where a wrongful death lawsuit may seem discriminatory would be for a family of a disabled person over 24 years of age and unmarried.  If that person died as a result of negligence from a hospital or doctor in Florida, there is most likely no viable lawsuit for damages.  Even when there are parents and siblings, all that would be covered in a lawsuit would be funeral expenses.

The cases in Florida wrongful death suits that fall under this discriminatory language are for medical negligence and malpractice.  Why is this?  It is very politically driven.  Hospitals and insurance companies contribute and lobby in the political arena.  What they receive in return is called “tort reform” and the power to fight what may be considered frivolous negligence lawsuits.  The court system concentrates on legitimate cases and not what may be considered frivolous.

This is the only time a wrongful death suit comes across as discriminatory.  If you are a motorist and hit someone causing their death, you are held liable for that death.  The examples given above would be entirely different.  The children of the 60 year old and the family of the over 24 year old disabled person would be able to sue for emotional damages.  The statute only allows medical personnel to be exempt from emotional damages.  It would seem the underemployed, elderly and disabled have been discriminated against with this statute.

As with any complicated lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit should be handled by an attorney who specializes in this area of law.  The attorney will guide you through the process and what you may expect as an outcome.