Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Settlements
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 03, 2018
This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy, clarity, and style by FindLaw’s team of legal writers and attorneys and in accordance with our editorial standards.
The last updated date refers to the last time this article was reviewed by FindLaw or one of our contributing authors. We make every effort to keep our articles updated. For information regarding a specific legal issue affecting you, please contact an attorney in your area.
If your family member died due to the negligent actions of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit under a medical malpractice theory. Frequently, cases like these end in a settlement rather than proceeding to a full trial. However, states have enacted laws that limit the amount that a plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit can recover, which directly impacts the amount of settlements. Read on to learn more about wrongful death medical malpractice settlements.
Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death action is a lawsuit that arises when a someone dies as the result of another person's negligence. Wrongful death actions often involve medical malpractice, which occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional administers care in a way that falls below the accepted standard of professional care. A wrongful death lawsuit is brought by the family of the patient who dies on behalf of his or her estate.
Plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit can ask for monetary recovery of a variety of different economic and on-economic damages, including:
- Pain and suffering before death
- Medical bills
- Loss of consortium by the decedent's spouse and family
- Loss of past and future wages and earning capacity
- Punitive damages, in the event there was egregious or outrageous conduct by the defendant
Limitations on Medical Malpractice Awards and Settlements
During the course of a wrongful death lawsuit, the judge will order both sides to meet and discuss potential settlement options. If a settlement is reached, the defendant will agree to pay a certain amount to the plaintiff in settlement of the case in exchange for the plaintiff's agreement to dismiss rather than going to trial. The exact amount of a settlement that you could expect as a wrongful death plaintiff will depend on the circumstances and facts of your case, including the age and health of the deceased person and the nature of the death.
However, some states have passed laws that limit or "cap" the amount of money that can be awarded by a jury in a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is part of an overall "tort reform" movement to limit the amount that juries can legally award to personal injury plaintiffs. Proponents of tort reform argue that high personal injury awards are a primary factor in driving up the health care costs.
The tort reform laws in your particular state will significantly impact settlement negotiations in a wrongful death lawsuit. A defendant likely won't even consider agreeing to a settlement amount that is any higher than a state cap on medical malpractice recovery. For this reason, it's important to understand your own state's laws on this issue before filing a medical malpractice case or entering into any settlement negotiations.
Learn More About Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Settlements from a Lawyer
If you've lost a family member due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, you may have a case for wrongful death. It's important to understand your state's laws and any applicable cap on wrongful death awards. Act quickly to preserve your legal rights and speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area today.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.