Wrongful death claims attack those responsible for a person’s death when it is caused by negligence, such as medical malpractice. Victims of loved ones who died because of medical malpractice may be able to receive compensation by suing the party responsible for the death, whether it is a doctor, a nurse, or a hospital. In order to win the case, an attorney for the plaintiff must prove that negligence caused the death and that it may have been prevented if the defendant hadn’t breached his duty of care.
Common Acts of Medical Malpractice That Can Result in Wrongful Death
Unfortunately, people die each day because of mistakes and acts of carelessness performed by those in the medical field. Often, their loved ones will attempt to hold those responsible for their negligence by filing wrongful death claims. Both doctors and nurses can act negligently and cause a patient’s death. Some of the most common acts of medical malpractice committed by doctors and nurses include:
- Surgical errors
- Failure to monitor a patient’s vital signs properly
- Administering medication at the wrong time
- Failure to enter the patient’s nursing record into the patient’s chart
- Negligence affecting childbirth and pregnancy
- Failure to check a patient for bed sores
- Failure to report suspicious symptoms and complaints to the chief physician-in-charge
- Administering the wrong type and amount of medication
- Prescribing the wrong type and amount of medication
Proving Guilt in a Wrongful Death Claim
The court examines a variety of factors when determining guilt in a wrongful death case. Perhaps the most significant factor that is scrutinized is a term called “duty of care.” Duty of care is a requirement that a person act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, caution, prudence, and attentiveness that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would take. If the person’s actions don’t meet this standard of care, the person could be found negligent, and possibly guilty of wrongful death.
For example, a doctor could be found guilty of wrongful death if an attorney can prove that he didn’t treat a patient in the manner that is typically deemed appropriate. If the doctor administered medication that isn’t usually prescribed for the health condition of the victim or didn’t take certain precautions during surgery, he may be found guilty of wrongful death if the attorney can prove that these actions directly resulted in death.
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
Plaintiffs can claim three types of damages in wrongful death claims: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
- Economic. Economic claims include the financial contributions the victim would have made if he hadn’t died. For instance, a plaintiff can seek the value of the goods and services the victim would have provided, medical and funeral expenses that are connected to the death, the loss of the victim’s expected earnings, and the loss of benefits, like medical coverage or pension plans.
- Non-economic. Non-economic claims are non-tangible, and include damages for pain and suffering; the loss of consortium from a deceased spouse; loss of love, society, and companionship from the deceased; and loss of care, protection, guidance, training, and advice from the deceased. The state of Texas, however, has implemented a cap, or legal limit, on the amount of non-economic compensation one can receive from a wrongful death because of medical malpractice. The cap was originally valued at $500,000, but families can receive up to $1,500,000 or more after the cap is adjusted for inflation.
- Punitive. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for bad conduct. These types of damages are often sought in abuse cases.
What to Do If Your Loved One Died From Wrongful Death
If you believed your loved one died because of someone else’s negligence in the form of medical malpractice, the attorneys of Wayne Wright may be able to help. Call 800.237.3334 to speak with a legal professional about your situation and find out how we may be able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.