Can You File A Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Losing a loved one is like losing a part of yourself. When medical malpractice is to blame, you might lose all trust in doctors, too. How can you make sure justice is served? File a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit. We’ll explain the basics below. Hampton & King is your ally in this trying time. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out if you have a case of wrongful death due to malpractice.

Doctor refuses to admit fault.

What Is A Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Case?

First of all, let’s define a medical malpractice wrongful death case. It’s a case that arises when a person dies due to negligent health care. The death could be due to a number of medical errors, such as:

Keep in mind that this isn’t a complete list. Other kinds of medical errors are possible. But a few things must be true in order to sue for wrongful death due to medical malpractice. They are:

  • Medical personnel acted in a way that any competent, trained person would NOT. 
  • The medical staff member’s mistake harmed the patient. 
  • The patient’s death stemmed from the harm they suffered. 

Sometimes it’s hard to prove that malpractice is the direct cause of death. Your loved one’s doctors may wash their hands of any responsibility. Also, they have insurance companies to back them up. These companies often deny any liability, and even try to blame the death on other causes. 

But this doesn’t mean you should give up on justice for your family member. That’s especially true if you’re the right person to sue on their behalf. Next, let’s examine who’s eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Who Can File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit For Wrongful Death?

In most medical malpractice cases, the person who was harmed will sue their doctor or hospital. But in a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit, someone else has to file on the behalf of the deceased. Most often, it’s their closest relative. It could be a parent, spouse, or child. 

The person who files the lawsuit will probably also be executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate. That means they are in charge of following the instructions in that person’s will, distributing property, and filing/settling the wrongful death lawsuit. 

Sometimes there’s no question over who should be the estate administrator. Other times, family members end up fighting over this position like squirrels over a bird seed feeder. When there’s a dispute, courts will decide who takes the reigns. They will also give that person legal authority to file a lawsuit. 

Damages In A Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Cases

If you can prove that a doctor’s or hospital’s negligent actions led to your loved one’s death, you may be able to “make them pay”—literally. Damages are monetary compensation for losses. 
In the case of wrongful death, your loss is great. You can’t imagine putting a dollar amount on your family member’s life. But damages can ease the pain somewhat by covering certain expenses/losses, such as:

  • Funeral costs
  • Lost financial support
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of nurturing (this may apply to children of the deceased) 

Damages vary according to the specifics of your case. State laws also place limits on damages you can recover, which we’ll discuss next. 

Limitations In Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Cases

Some states limit your total damages. Others put a cap on noneconomic damages (such as loss of companionship). For example, in Texas you can recover up to $250,000 in noneconomic damages.

What’s your main limitation in a medical malpractice wrongful death case? Time. You might not feel up to doing much of anything after losing your loved one. But state laws cap the amount of time you can wait before filing. This is called the “statute of limitations”.

In most US states, the statute of limitations is just two years after the person’s death. You may not be able to take legal action after that. 

So, if you have the slightest suspicion that a physician’s error led to your loved one’s death, you must act now. Seek the help of a medical malpractice lawyer with experience in wrongful death cases. This type of lawyer can help you sift through medical records. They can also seek expert medical opinions to shed light on the circumstances of your loved one’s case. 

Victim's casket at funeral.

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