Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Settlements
You have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit under a medical malpractice theory if your family member died due to the negligent actions of a:
- Other medical professional
Frequently, these cases end in a settlement rather than a full trial. However, states have enacted laws limiting the amount a plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit can recover. This directly impacts settlement amounts. 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 someone dies due to another person's negligence. Wrongful death actions often involve medical negligence or medical malpractice. This occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional administers care (or makes medical errors) in a way that falls below the accepted standard of care. A wrongful death lawsuit may be brought against a health care provider by the family of the patient who dies (the decedent). Some states require that wrongful death personal injury cases be brought by a decedent's personal representative.
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. This will be in exchange for the plaintiff's agreement to dismiss the case rather than go to trial. The exact settlement amount you can expect as a wrongful death plaintiff depends on the circumstances and facts of your case. This includes the age and health of the deceased person and the nature of the death.
What Wrongful Death Plaintiffs Can Win in Court
Plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit can ask for monetary recovery of various economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Pain and suffering before death
- Medical bills and medical expenses
- Loss of consortium (loss of companionship) by the decedent's surviving spouse and other beneficiaries. This refers to the loss of a family relationship after the death of a loved one. Some states allow surviving family members, including children, to make this claim. Others only limit it to widowed spouses
- Loss of financial support, e.g., past and future wages and the earning capacity of the decedent
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Punitive damages, in the event there was egregious or outrageous conduct by the defendant. These are "punishment" damages that go beyond merely compensating victims
Limitation Disclaimer on Medical Malpractice Settlements
Some states have passed laws that limit or "cap" the amount of money that a jury can award 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 health care costs.
Tort reform laws in your particular state will affect settlement negotiations in a wrongful death lawsuit. A defendant likely won't even consider agreeing to a settlement amount 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
- Entering into any settlement negotiations
Helpful and Related Resources
- A Mother's Wrongful Death
- Physician-Patient Privilege
- Medical Malpractice
- Other Valuable Wrongful Death Resources
Get Legal Advice About Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Settlements From a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you've lost a family member due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, you may have a wrongful death case. It's important to understand your state's laws and any applicable payout cap on wrongful death claims.
Act quickly to preserve your legal rights. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area today. To obtain wrongful death settlements in these types of negligence cases, it's important to file your case timely. Each state's statute of limitations sets a deadline after which your wrongful death claim will be barred.
After the date of death of a loved one, a client relationship with a wrongful death lawyer can help surviving family members. Law offices specializing in wrongful death suits often have medical malpractice lawyers. While there is a limit on economic losses, an experienced attorney can conduct a case evaluation to maximize your verdict. Start pursuing the at-fault party or their insurance company with a phone call to a wrongful death attorney today.
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Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.