Florida Bill Seeks To Protect Nursing Homes From Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A new bill that is working its way through both houses would severely restrict when a grieving family would be allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a nursing home. The new legislation would prevent adult children over the age of 25 from filing a lawsuit. Only children under the age of 25 and spouses would be able to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit.
The law would be similar to Florida’s “free kill law” which operates on a similar standard for medical malpractice lawsuits. It essentially prevents a wrongful death lawsuit from ever being filed on behalf of an unmarried adult with no children younger than 25.
The rule is unusual to say the least. It is a holdover from Jeb Bush-era efforts to prevent “junk lawsuits” against health care providers. It was broadly assumed that medical malpractice lawsuits were driving up the cost of healthcare, but after a decade or so in place, the cost of healthcare continues to skyrocket. It remains more likely that fraud against Medicare and Medicaid is driving up the cost of health care, along with exorbitant costs related to drugs.
Other elements of the bill
The bill is also poised to discourage expert witnesses from testifying on behalf of patients based on contingency fees. Those who are opposed to tort lawsuits in general believe that this system allows for a cottage industry of medical expert witnesses who are paid by personal injury attorneys to provide testimony on behalf of patients filing lawsuits against doctors.
Expert witnesses are absolutely vital to establishing the prevailing standard of medical care for the industry and informing jurors how a doctor deviated from that standard of care causing injury. In other words, expert witnesses are the backbone of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Attorneys have a sense of the law and how it applies to medical services, but we don’t understand the body nor the industry as well as a practicing doctor.
Why nursing homes?
Specific business interests have an incentive to see the vast majority of nursing home lawsuits die before they ever reach a jury. This is largely because these nursing homes operate on private equity and are attempting to protect investors from seeing their investments dry up. On the other hand, these same nursing homes tend to be understaffed with bizarre corporate structures preventing them from exposing their assets to liability. The nursing home can claim it is operating under a very small profit margin when, in fact, the nursing home is generating millions in profits annually, paying that money to the parent company, and understaffing their medical facility while residents are neglected and killed.
So, in a world where investors are more important than the lives of the elderly, you get legislation that prevents bad actors from being held accountable. Eventually, one bad actor abuses the law so egregiously, that it results in pushback by the public and the law is rescinded. In the meantime, hundreds could die.
Talk to a Miami Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Attorney Today
The Miami personal injury lawyers at Payer Law know that your life is more important than some investor’s dividend. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.