Medical malpractice and error is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Safety experts from Johns Hopkins concluded in 2016 that over a quarter of a million deaths per year are due to mistakes made by medical professionals. The wrongful death of a patient due to medical malpractice can be caused by several things.
Misdiagnosis, negligence, errors in medication, failure to monitor a patient, errors in filing, and surgical mistakes are just a few. If you’ve dealt with the death of a family member or loved one because of this very preventable cause, chances are that you are angry, grieving, and at a loss for what the next steps can be.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be a long, stressful, emotional road to go on, but it could also result in some amount of compensation for your turmoil.
Wrongful death in Arizona is complicated, but with the right resources you can better understand the legal options you have if a loved one has passed away because of negligence.
What You Need to Know about Wrongful Death & Hospitals
Physicians and Hospitals Can Both be Held Liable. Depending on the specifics of your loved one’s death, the hospital where they received treatment or the physician who administer treatment can be held liable in a lawsuit. They are not mutually exclusive, however.
It is possible to sue both the hospital and the doctor or hold them liable for medical malpractice, negligence, and wrongful death.
In fact, more than 42% of doctors in the United States have been sued during their careers, according to a survey conducted by the American Medical Association.
An entire hospital can be held liable for a wrongful death for several reasons:
- The negligence of the doctors, nurses, surgeons and other professionals that they employ
- The personal negligence in hiring employees that are dangerous or ill-fitted to care for patients
- Poorly maintaining equipment used in the hospital
- Lack of proper management of medical care within the hospital
It is important to note that often hospitals hire doctors and nurses as independent contractors. This means that because the doctors and nurses are not necessarily the hospital’s employees, the hospital may not be held responsible for the wrongful death of a patient.
Types of Compensation to Expect
Often, customary damages that can be received in a wrongful death suit include special damages, economic damages, or non-economic damages.
A few specifics are as follows:
- Funeral and burial expenses for the deceased victim
- Medical bills accrued due to malpractice
- A calculated value of losses, including lost earnings and employment benefits
- A monetary number relative to pain and suffering of the victim and/or the representative acting as the plaintiff
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of guidance and nurture, if the deceased was raising children
- Punitive damages
Sometimes, state laws in place can enforce a cap, or award limit, on how much the plaintiff can receive in wrongful death or medical malpractice lawsuits.
Fortunately for victims’ families, Arizona has constitutionally prohibited caps on damages in personal injury cases in the state.
Risks to Consider with a Hospital Wrongful Death Suit
Lawsuit – Should the hospital or physician be ruled not responsible for a wrongful death or medical malpractice, there is a chance that either could file a countersuit against the plaintiff or representative (you) to cover their financial and reputation losses during the case.
More productive steps can be taken on the side of the doctor or hospital, but countersuits do happen and they are a serious risk to consider.
Depletion of Funds – Suing anyone for anything costs money. There is a chance that the suit could not work in your favor and no damages will be received. As stated above, a countersuit could potentially affect your finances and quality of life for a very long time.
Loss of time – A claim settlement, especially for something like a wrongful death or medical malpractice, is almost never speedy. A lot of time and resources can be depleted while waiting for resolution, which could affect the family of the deceased both financially and emotionally.
Steps to Take
Decide Who Will be Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit – The primary filer of the lawsuit on behalf of the victim is often the victim’s close family, including the victim’s children, spouse, parent, or guardian. Usually there is little to know dispute over who will represent the deceased.
However, sometimes turmoil within the family can lead to problems involving who will be representing the victim in the lawsuit. These issues should be resolved before taking action, if possible.
An agreement is much easier than going to an additional trial to appoint a representation of the deceased.
Avoid Social Media – Chances are if you’re going through a time of incredible loss and mourning, you will receive an outpouring of support and sympathy through social media. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.
However, if you decide to go through with filing the wrongful death lawsuit, you should avoid discussing or even mentioning the case in a public forum for your benefit.
Hire the Right Attorney
Fighting a hospital or wealthy doctor with the best resources will be hard. Do your research and find the right attorney that has experience in or specializes in wrongful death lawsuits and medical malpractice lawsuits.
Your attorney will organize a plan with you and increase your chances of receiving damages.
Proving reckless endangerment or neglect is difficult. The ideal law firm with have a successful and positive string of successes in winning medical malpractice claims.
Having a good lawyer sends a strong message that you’re willing to hold the hospital or physician accountable for the death of your loved one.
Be unafraid to be completely open with your attorney. Any and all details relating to your case and what you’ve witnessed during your loved one’s hospitalization is crucial. It is also important to remember to be entirely truthful as well.
Are You Considering Suing a Hospital for Wrongful Death in Arizona?
Nothing can bring back your loved one and nothing can change what caused their untimely death. Unfortunately, receiving monetary damages won’t ease the pain either.
But if you’ve lost someone because of the negligence of a doctor or medical malpractice of a hospital, you deserve compensation, however meaningful, for your pain and turmoil, an apology, and the prevention of future families losing loved ones because of a negligent hospital or doctor.
The road is difficult, but with the right help, it doesn’t have to be an entirely negative process. At JacksonWhite, we work diligently with our clients to handle the burden that comes with a wrongful death. We work on contingency, so we don’t get paid until you win your case.
Our attorneys and staff are focused on providing our clients with the most compassionate, aggressive legal care possible, and we can help you next.
Free Wrongful Death Case Review
Call us today to schedule your free consultation. Our personal injury attorney Jared Everton can explain your legal options and provide a pathway for you to move forward.
We’ve helped hundreds of families in Arizona get the compensation they deserve after a wrongful death. When you’re ready, we can help you next.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.