Losing a loved one is never easy, but some losses are tinged with more than just grief. When the actions of an individual or entity lead to death, those left behind have to struggle with a toxic mix of despair, anger, frustration, and turmoil. For many, a deep-seated yearning for justice soon arises, and becomes a driving force. Fortunately, the law provides a path to recourse when death occurs due to wrongdoing or negligence.
What is wrongful death?
While loved ones may feel that any loss is wrong, there is a legal definition for wrongful death. A wrongful death is one that occurs directly because of the misconduct or negligence of another party. That party can be an individual or an entity. In many cases, a wrongful death lawsuit names multiple parties, including a mix of individuals and entities. It’s important to underscore that wrongful death does not require an intent to harm, simply allowing a potentially harmful set of circumstances to persist or failing to take proper precautions can be enough to prove a wrongful death has occurred.
Additional components of a wrongful death action include:
- Surviving loved ones that have suffered financial losses as a result of the death
- Designation of a representative to handle the liabilities for the decedents’ estate
In order to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you have to have a close family connection to the deceased. Examples include spouses, children, parents, and siblings
Can you sue a hospital for wrongful death?
Most people know you can pursue an individual for wrongful death, but it is also possible to sue an entity for wrongful death. That includes hospitals, which should be places where families turn in times of need. They should represent the very best of scientific thought, advancements in technology, and comprehensive, compassionate, care. When those expectations are not met, serious harm can follow, leaving loved ones grieving.
What if multiple medical professionals treated my loved one?
In a busy hospital setting it isn’t unusual for a patient to be treated by numerous health care workers, ranging from nursing staff to doctors, specialists, and medical support staff. Your attorney will determine which individuals should be included in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Some of the medical malpractice issues that can contribute to death include:
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Surgical errors
- Falls or injuries that took place in the hospital
- Medication errors
- Medical staff who worked while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Unsanitary conditions
- Equipment malfunction
It is not uncommon for a combination of factors to lead to loss of life in a hospital setting. Getting tot he bottom of what went wrong is not only important for your case, but can also help you move toward closure and help you understand what happened and move forward with your life. While nothing will bring back a lost loved one, knowing how the loss occurred is helpful to many surviving family members.
What services can a wrongful death attorney provide?
Working with a skilled wrongful death attorney is a critical part of navigating a lawsuit. The hospital will most certainly employ a team of legal representatives to support their side of the case, and having a trusted legal professional on your side is imperative. Hospitals provide care and comfort to most patients and families, but they are also in business to make a profit or grow their enterprise. They will go to great lengths to protect their interests and avoid losing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Your wrongful death attorney begins by gathering all of the evidence needed to support your case. That can look a bit different from one case to the next, but includes medical records, witness statements, autopsy information, and information from friends and loved ones who were present during the hospitalization. Your case might benefit from expert testimony from a medical professional, which can help a jury understand the details of the events that led to death.
For cases that go before a court, the testimony of loved ones cannot be overvalued. These statements allow you and your family to give voice to the loss you’ve sustained. They provide a human touch to what can be many hours of dry medical information and technical arguments. They can also help loved ones feel heard, and validate the emotional turmoil and stress that an unexpected loss brings about.
All of this information is compiled into a record that supports your legal claims. Your attorney uses those details to create a detailed plan for arguing your case.
Not all wrongful death lawsuits make it to a court of law. In many cases these matters are settled out of court. That doesn’t mean that you and your family will not receive fair compensation, but it can mean significantly less stress for grieving loved ones. Your attorney will stay in close contact with you to let you know how things are progressing and help you evaluate settlement offers.
If you’ve lost a loved one and suspect that the hospital or medical staff may be to blame, take action as swiftly as possible to ensure your family gets the justice that they deserve. There are limits to how long you can take to move forward with a lawsuit, so be sure to select a qualified wrongful death attorney and begin the process as soon as possible.