What Happens When Medical Malpractice Leads To Wrongful Death?

If someone dies due to another's preventable negligence, it's possible to press a wrongful death claim on that person's behalf. If a medical professional performs on someone and it turns into malpractice, that patient can file a malpractice lawsuit. But what happens when medical malpractice leads to wrongful death?

Nothing Set In Stone

The main problem with answering that question has to do with differing state laws. Each state has its own way of handling wrongful death and medical malpractice claims.

This becomes even harder to put together when you realize that many states place a cap on how much someone can receive in damages from a medical malpractice case. At the same time, there are different caps for general wrongful death cases. So what can you do?

It's Medical Malpractice

In many places, if wrongful death occurs because of medical malpractice, then it's usually just considered a medical malpractice case. So if you want to pursue a case on behalf of loved one, it's best to consider your state's laws regarding wrongful death due to medical malpractice. This is an important distinction as death from medical malpractice can often turn into two separate types of claims.

Wrongful Death and Survivor Actions

Now that you know this issue falls mainly under medical malpractice, you can use that to your advantage. If medical malpractice leads to a wrongful death, families receive two avenues of compensation they can pursue simultaneously.

Wrongful death statutes – Not to be confused with wrongful death cases in general. These statutes are the ones that are unique to medical malpractice. Through the wrongful death actions, family of the deceased patient can sue the doctor, hospital or other medical facility for much of what comes from losing a loved one. This can include concrete items such as:

  • The cost of the patient's medical care
  • Funeral and other preparatory costs
  • Loss of future financial support

These damages can also include non-physical, emotional, or mental loss such as loss of love and companionship. The list of possible damages vary from state to state, but in general, the wrongful death statutes are for loved ones to receive compensation for all that they lost by losing their family member.

Survivor statutes – Survivor statutes are a separate lawsuit for the patient. These claims are meant to act as a proxy for the claim the deceased would have made were he or she alive. This is the more traditional lawsuit as it implicitly includes the patient's pre-death pain and suffering.

You Have to Speak to a Lawyer

With so many variances from state to state, it's important to make sure you get your facts straight. Some states operate in a completely different manner from what's here. Because of that, it's imperative that you speak to a wrongful death attorney about your options. Do it as soon as possible, as each state also has varying statutes of limitation.