The Senate in Florida has taken no action to move forward a bill that would have allowed the parents of adult kids to sue doctors for damages in medical malpractice cases. Had the bill been considered, it would have taken away a measure of liability lawsuit protecting physicians and hospitals. During the scheduled meeting of the 2022 session, the predominantly Republican Senate did not table the proposed measure. Similar efforts to amend the law were also quashed in 2021 which would have permitted adult children to sue doctors and hospitals over the deaths of parents in medical negligence cases.
Medical Malpractice Claims and Lawsuits in Florida
The number of cases filed each year varies by state, but overall, an average of 85,000 cases is common in the US. The last survey on national patient safety indicated that 21% of American adults were victims of medical errors. It was also revealed that 31% of respondents said that a person close to them had experienced negligence. Suffering due to medical oversights can cause lasting effects on physical, financial, and emotional health. In most cases, it can also cause legal ramifications, which is why many who face this type of predicament rely on medical negligence lawyers to help them in court.
On the other hand, the effect of medical mistakes on hospitals is significant and according to a 2010 study, errors cost the US $19.5 billion. In fact, in the period 2010-2019, $42 billion was awarded to victims of medical malpractice. The top 5 states with the highest payout during this period were New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Jersey, and California.
A Victory for Doctors and Hospitals
The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Senator Danny Burgess, postponed deliberation of SB 262 after 4 weeks into the 60-day legislative session in Tallahassee. Sponsored by Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez, SB 262 would have authorized parents of adult children to pursue pain and suffering damages in medical negligence lawsuits. Critics say that the abandonment of the bipartisan efforts by the Senate affirms the state’s ‘free kill’ law improperly protecting negligent physicians and hospitals. It is considered a victory for doctors and hospitals in the state.
On the other hand, opponents of the bill including the Florida Chamber of Commerce said that the current law helps keep malpractice insurance premiums affordable. Under the state’s laws, physicians are generally required to hold medical malpractice insurance or show financial responsibility to deal with potential claims. Although doctors can go bare or without medical malpractice insurance, there are still conditions that they must fulfill such as posting a bond, creating an escrow account or securing an irrevocable line of credit from a financial institution. In addition, a sign must be posted in their offices informing patients that they do not have malpractice insurance.
Failure by the Senate to consider the bill that would have allowed parents to sue for damages on behalf of adult children is bad news for supporters of the proposed act. In addition, a ban on people 25 years or older to litigate doctors for compensation if the parents were divorced or unmarried is in effect since 1990 with critics saying that it removes a deterrent against medical malpractices.