Wrongful death refers to the unfortunate incidents that result in some person’s death due to negligent behavior of some other individual. There are several reasons that lead to wrongful death, out of which medical malpractices are responsible for majority of the incidences.
The term wrongful death was coined as the death of the individual is unexpected and could have been prevented if the doctor had performed his duties responsibly. As the death of the individual is not natural or expected, it is considered as wrongful.
What are the causes of Wrongful Deaths in Medical Malpractices?
Medical negligence occurs when the medical practitioners fail to perform duties in an acceptable manner under the medical standard of care. Negligence leads to malpractice when this negligence causes harm to the patient. Some medical practitioners are lucky enough to escape lawsuit if their negligent behavior did not cause injury. However, if the patient dies due to the doctor’s negligence, then the doctor is made to answer and compensate for the loss. There are certain practices that have the potential to kill a patient. The common reasons leading to wrongful deaths under medical malpractices are:
Failure in diagnoses of condition or reason for illness
Errors during the Surgeries / Treatments
Wrong prescription for medicines or vaccinations
Incidents followed due to inadequate staff members or obsolete equipments
Infections due to inappropriate quarantine facilities or hygiene practices
Who can be held responsible for Wrongful Death?
All the factors that have contributed towards the death of the individual can be used as proof while filing a lawsuit. Any member of the hospital staff or the entire management together can be held responsible for the wrongful death – medical practitioners, surgeons, nurses, or the hospital, as long as they are directly responsible for the negligence. If the death was a result of poor facilities, obsolete equipments, expired medicines, then the management can be charged under medical malpractices.
Who can file a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death against the Medical Staff?
Any member of the immediate family of the deceased can file a case. The parents, children or spouse can file charges against a hospital for medical malpractice. Some laws allow the divorced spouses, distant relatives and financial dependents to file a case as well. The lawsuit for medical malpractices is different for different states in USA. Hence, you need to verify if you are eligible to file a case for the loss of your loved one.
What is Statute of Limitations?
Statute of limitations refers to the time period after the wrongful death, during which the family of the deceased is allowed to file a case against the offense. Often this period lasts between 3 – 7 years from death of the patient, varying as per the state law. Hence, if the patient’s family decides to file a case after 2 years from death, the case may not get entertained in court. On the other hand, what if in a particular case appears as a genuine natural death at first, but later after the expiry of statute of limitation, the family finds evidence of medical practice? In this case the statute of limitations begins from the date of discovery of evidence and lasts up till 2 years from the date of discovery. However, this rule is applicable to few states in US. Some may not grant this privilege. Also, there are specific rules if the patients doesn’t die right away after the incident but dies later due to the injuries.
How are the damages in Wrongful Death calculated?
The family of the deceased suffers from emotional and financial loss, following the death of a family member. Replacing someone’s life is not possible. So, it is wise to provide the family members some monetary compensation that will help them get their lives back on track. While calculating the financial loss, there are several factors that need to be considered. The damage amount includes the medical and funeral expenses borne by the family, loss of income source, loss of emotional support and the instability in future prospects. The method of calculation includes consideration for the age, life expectancy, health and intelligence of the deceased. Further, determine the amount of damage based on the loss of income, loss of support and number of dependents.
What steps are included in Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
Typically, these steps are followed in wrongful death lawsuit:
Contact a wrongful death attorney and check the feasibility of filing a case
Establish communication between both parties and seek out of court settlement
File a lawsuit in court that includes a complaint stating the charges, accused and compensation
Present case, demand explanations and provide evidences to the court
Present the verdict and press charges against the accused, if guilty and determine the compensation to be paid by the guilty
It is important to know about medical malpractice wrongful death to make sure that you do not become a victim to unjust behavior only out of ignorance. Make sure that our departed loved ones get justice if they have been a victim of wrongful death. Always consult a medical malpractice lawyer to receive perfect guidance on filing medical malpractices lawsuits.