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Substance Abuse Rehab Centers And Wrongful Death


When someone checks into rehab, they are essentially throwing themselves on the mercy of the facility in their quest for sobriety. In turn, rehabilitation centers have a duty to exercise reasonable care toward their patients, and to protect them from foreseeable harm. If someone dies while in the care of a rehabilitation center, it can be imputed in many cases that the center breached their duty, and would thus be potentially liable for that person’s passing. If you have lost a loved one while they were attempting to get their life in order, you may be able to seek compensation for the injury you and your family have sustained.

What Is A “Wrongful” Death?

Florida’s Wrongful Death Act establishes that a person’s “wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty” that results in death can lead to a right of action for the decedent’s surviving family. While the suit itself must be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, it is brought on behalf of the surviving immediate family (that is, a surviving spouse, minor child or children, or parents). Survivors may be able to recover what is known as the value of lost support and services (for both past and future), as well as for other expenses like medical and funeral bills.

Substance abuse rehab centers are essentially medical facilities under Florida law, and medical facilities (and their staff) are required to uphold the prevailing standard of care. If it can be shown that a staff member, or the facility itself, committed a “wrongful” or “negligent” act, it may be appropriate to file suit against either the staffer, the facility, or both. While substance abuse rehab centers and their staff cannot work miracles, they must practice the level of care that can give an addicted patient the space and time they need to focus on sobriety.

Still Room For Improvement

There is case precedent for filing these types of claims against rehab centers in Florida. In 2018, an Illinois man was in the middle of a “full-blown psychotic episode” upon his arrival at Tampa airport, but instead of delivering him to a hospital, the taxi driver he chose delivered him to a rehab facility in Hillsborough County. However, the facility was not able to find anyone competent to do an intake procedure, and the man walked out of the facility, eventually being struck by a car in the middle of a busy road. The man’s surviving family filed suit against the facility, alleging that they had a duty to keep him safe from foreseeable harm, but as of this writing the case is still pending.

Florida’s laws surrounding how rehab facilities conduct themselves have been significantly improved, particularly after Palm Beach County district attorney Dave Aronberg and his appointed task force vetted the state’s facilities in 2016. However, it only takes one negligent staffer, or one poorly maintained facility, that can lead to injuries and fatalities that are often, at least in theory, avoidable. If you have evidence that your loved one did not get the care they should have gotten, contacting an attorney is the next step.

Contact A Tampa Substance Abuse Rehab Center Attorney

People come to substance abuse rehab facilities to try and complete their journey to sobriety – but if they are not getting the care they need, it can be all too easy to wind up getting hurt. The Tampa treatment center negligence attorney from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help answer any questions you may have about the wrongful death process, and offer advice as to where you and your family should go from here. Call us today for a free consultation.



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