Answers to Five Common Questions About Medical Malpractice Death Suits

Medical negligence by doctors and hospitals results in preventable deaths nearly every day. According to a study in May of 2016 at Johns Hopkins Medicine, more than 250,000 deaths per year in the United States are attributable to medical error. By comparison, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks respiratory disease as the third leading cause of death in the country at 150,000 annually. Some commonly asked questions and answers about medical malpractice death lawsuits follow.

Wasn’t the doctor negligent when my husband didn’t respond to treatment?

Any medical treatment carries its own risks. The fact that your husband did not respond to treatment does not necessarily mean that the doctor was negligent. The doctor may have prescribed the correct course of treatment, but for one or more known or unknown reasons, your husband failed to respond.

Then what is medical malpractice?

When a doctor commits medical malpractice, he or she deviates from the standard of care and in the case of a fatality, that deviation is the proximate cause of the patient’s death. The standard of care is the same care that a reasonable and competent doctor of the same specialty in the same community would have provided in the same or similar circumstances. Some communities just don’t have the facilities and equipment of other communities. Even a gross deviation from the standard of care is not actionable in a wrongful death case if it was not the proximate cause of a patient’s death.

Who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit?

Only the heirs of the person who died as a result of alleged medical negligence can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Those parties might be the spouse and children, the parents of a deceased child, the children of an unmarried adult or even the surviving parents of the decedent adult. If the parents of the decedent aren’t alive, his or her siblings might bring the action. Those eligible to bring the wrongful death lawsuit is controlled by the state’s statutes.

What types of damages might be recovered in a medical malpractice wrongful death case?

Damages that are available to heirs of the decedent in a medical malpractice case vary from state to state. Some states even have cap limits on pain and suffering. Most states designate wrongful death damages to be loss of financial and emotional support, the cost of medical treatment before death, and funeral and burial expenses.

What is a survival statute?

In nearly all medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuits, we bring the wrongful death action in the first count of the lawsuit. The second count invariably brings what is known as a survival action, and that count is brought by the decedent’s estate. Just about every state has a survival statute that allows the decedent’s estate to seek compensation for injuries or damages from medical malpractice for the interim before their family member died.

Wrongful death cases alleging medical malpractice are some of the most complex and hotly contested cases in civil litigation. A qualified and talented Phoenix medical malpractice lawyer has the necessary resources along with an enviable history of success. Admissions of liability and quick settlements are few and far between.