Can You Sue a Doctor for Wrongful Death?
If you have lost a loved one due to a doctor’s negligence, you may be asking yourself how you can achieve justice. Nothing can truly compensate you for losing a family member, but filing a wrongful death lawsuit can help you attain closure and monetary compensation to cover medical bills, funeral costs and other expenses. In the case of medical malpractice, it might help protect other patients by making public information about the doctor’s alleged negligence. In the case of a defective product, it may alert the public to the danger and expose the manufacturer for putting profits over people. Since every case has a unique set of circumstances, it’s recommended to consult a qualified personal injury lawyer who can review your case and determine whether you may have the basis to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a doctor.
Did a wrongful death occur?
Before a person can sue a doctor for wrongful death, it’s necessary to determine if a wrongful death occurred. For bereaved family members who are mourning their loved ones, any death can seem “wrongful.” However, the legal definition of wrongful death is far more limiting. A wrongful death is the death of a person caused by the negligence, carelessness, or wrongful act of another person. Wrongful death can occur in many situations, including medical malpractice.
When determining whether medical malpractice may have occurred, a personal injury lawyer will consider whether the medical professional breached the standard of care. The standard of care is the type and degree of care that any skilled and trained healthcare professional would deliver in any particular circumstances. In other words, the lawyer would consider whether the doctor failed to perform some action that a similarly trained doctor would have performed in that situation.
Other elements must be proven in this type of lawsuit. One of them is the doctor-patient relationship. The lawyer must demonstrate that a doctor-patient relationship existed between the doctor and the decedent, which would mean that the doctor owed the decedent a duty of care. There must also be evidence to prove that the doctor’s breach of the standard of care resulted in the patient’s death.
Can the doctor be sued?
Once the wrongful death lawyer establishes that the elements of medical malpractice exist and that the result was the patient’s death, the next step is to determine the defendants. Quite often, the doctor is indeed named as the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from medical malpractice. However, there may be multiple defendants in this type of lawsuit.
In addition to suing the doctor, other healthcare professionals may be named as defendants, such as an attending nurse or diagnostic technician, provided these individuals also breached the standard of care. Some lawsuits may name the medical facility as a defendant as well, provided the facility committed an act of negligence or wrongdoing that contributed to the death.
Are you an eligible relative of the decedent?
Once an attorney determines that a wrongful death occurred and that the doctor can be sued, the next consideration is whether the individual who wants to file a lawsuit is eligible to do so. The law varies from state to state. In every state, the immediate family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s customary for the surviving spouse, if any, to file the lawsuit. If a child has died, it’s customary for the parents to file the lawsuit. In some cases and in certain states, more distant relatives may be able to sue a doctor for wrongful death, such as siblings or grandparents.
Get the legal guidance you need to move forward
Every case is unique. It’s important to get in touch with a qualified wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options for legal recourse. Here at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to your family for the loss of your loved one. We will do everything possible to make the legal process easy and hassle-free during this difficult time. You’ll find our legal team to be compassionate and knowledgeable, serving as both vigorous legal advocates and a shoulder to lean on when times are tough.
Of course, not every death may lead to a wrongful death lawsuit, which is why we offer free case reviews. You can schedule a no-obligation consultation with a personal injury lawyer at no charge to you. Get in touch today and let us know how we can help your family.