Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death
Wrongful Death Lawyer
It is a common scene on network television: worried family members pace the floor of the sterile looking waiting room of the surgery ward of a hospital. An exhausted doctor emerges in scrubs, with a concerned look on his face and approaches the family, carrying a clipboard. It is clear from the doctor’s expression that everything did not go as planned, and that his patient has died. For some people, maybe even you, this dramatic portrayal became a real-life nightmare.
If you believe that someone you loved died unnecessarily while under the care of a medical professional, you should consult with a qualified medical malpractice attorney in your area. Although we often put our full faith in our doctor’s ability to help us heal from our injuries, sometimes a doctor fails to meet the standard of care for his or her profession resulting in a patient’s death. This can happen dramatically during surgery, as in the scene above, but it can also happen many other ways, such as a doctor failing to properly warn patients about the risks associated with certain treatments or lack thereof, a doctor failing to safely prescribe medications or treatments for a patient, or a doctor failing to diagnose a condition which leads to a patient’s death. In these cases, you may be entitled to recover money damages for your loved one’s death through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
“But, how?” you may ask, since your loved one is not able to file the lawsuit now that he or she has passed. The law, however, provides a remedy. If someone dies as a result of medical malpractice, the resulting legal claim is referred to as “wrongful death.” In wrongful death claims, the family members of the deceased patient can step into the patient’s shoes to sue the doctor in the name of the deceased patient’s estate. This process can be complicated, and it is important that you consult with an attorney who is familiar with wrongful death cases before filing a claim. Each state has its own rules about how wrongful death cases must be brought before the court, though typically you must establish an “estate” for the deceased patient and have someone appointed as the representative of the estate. This representative will be the named plaintiff in the lawsuit, but exactly how the plaintiff must be named varies and requires significant knowledge of your state’s law.
The wrongful death case will then proceed as would any medical malpractice case.. If the case settles, or if it goes to a verdict in court and money is awarded to the plaintiff, this money will flow into the decedent’s estate and then be distributed according to the laws of your state and any known wishes of the decedent. Because the plaintiff in a wrongful death case is not truly a living person, there can be many technical and legal complications throughout the life of the case, including in how and when the money is distributed to the decedent’s heirs. To make sure that you are able to recover the compensation your family deserves for the death of your loved one, contact a competent and experienced hospital malpractice lawyer Salt Lake City, Utah relies on who is familiar with wrongful death cases.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into medical malpractice and wrongful death.