When do you become ineligible to sue for medical malpractice in Florida?
Believe it or not, in Florida, if an individual dies as a result of malpractice, the courts will not award damages to the victim’s family unless a number of criteria are met. According to Florida’s discriminatory Wrongful Death Act, if a person dies as a result of malpractice, no damages beyond funeral and medical bills will be awarded if:
- The victim is unmarried and has no children under 25
- The victim is disabled, unmarried and over the age of 25
- The victim is retired and has no spouse
Clearly, a great many patients in Florida are unmarried adults with no children under 25. The numbers of such individuals have increased as young people wait longer to get married. Also, because so many people retire to Florida and the state has such a large proportion of elderly residents, Florida has a high number of retired persons who never married or have lost a spouse to divorce or death.
Tragic Example of Inadequate and Discriminatory Law
A tragic example of this inequity in Florida presented itself recently in Pasco County where a grieving mother who believes medical negligence resulted in her 33 year-old son’s death has found that she can’t bring a lawsuit to hold the doctors accountable for her great loss. This is because her son, though immensely valuable as a human being and beloved by his family and friends, was disabled, unmarried and childless. In the state of Florida, his life apparently counts for nothing.
Javier Roldan, was born with spina bifida and, though unable to work at a typical job, represented the March of Dimes, rubbed elbows with baseball greats and rock stars, even made an appearance in the Super Bowl XXV half-time show in Tampa. While in a Pinellas County hospital, being treated for a broken leg, he seized, convulsed and, within 6 days, died, and, says his mother, Jeannette Gonzalez, the doctors never even knew it.
Gonzalez claims doctors refused to respond to her concerns, promising that they would take steps that were never taken, steps that could have saved Javier’s life. She says that her son “was a wonderful person [who] loved everybody. These doctors need to be held accountable…He deserved better.” Her lawyer, who has taken on the case pro bono, says the existing Florida law “discriminates against an entire class of people, which violates the United States Constitution.”
Fortunately, New York State has less Draconian laws relative to malpractice than Florida. If you have lost a loved one because of medical malpractice or if you have suffered adverse effects because of medical negligence, it is important that you contact a competent, compassionate medical malpractice attorney as quickly as possible.