Wrongful Death/Medical Malpractice
Although the last thing that you want to think about after a loved one’s death is money, it’s important that you and your family know your rights in the event of a wrongful death. Much in the way that you can take someone to court for injuring you, you may also take them to court if they, through negligence or malintent, cause death in your family.
It’s a problem that has become increasingly common in the United States. According to a recent study by John Hopkins University, there are approximately 251,454 accidental deaths caused by medical malpractice each year. This makes it the third-leading cause of death in the United States. In Pennsylvania, you generally have two years from the time of the incident to bring the case to court, please confirm with an attorney on your specific case.
How is a Wrongful Death/Medical Malpractice Case Handled?
Every state has a different way of handling wrongful death cases. These statutes determine the procedures in the case. The court awards damages from a successful wrongful death case to the deceased party’s estate. The estate then distributes the money according to the will.
People can bring wrongful death cases to court in many different scenarios, but these are some of the most common:
- Medical malpractice that results in a death
- A plane, auto accident or slip and fall
- Exposure to harmful conditions or substances in the workplace
- Criminal behavior
- Death during a supervised activity
- A defect in a product like a car or crib.
Furthermore, the case must meet the following qualifications to qualify as a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The death of a person
- The death was the direct result of someone else’s negligence, or the death was the direct result of malicious behavior.
- The surviving family members are experiencing financial hardship due to the death
- A personal representative of the deceased must be established
The financial injury, also known as pecuniary injury, is the primary measure of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. The financial injury includes any loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical/funeral expenses. It isn’t your responsibility to take on the financial burden of your loved one’s death if someone else caused it. These payments should cover your expenses throughout the process. Also, interest begins accruing on these payments from the date of the death.
Finally, the decedent’s estate may also be able to sue for damages for personal injury to the decedent. Called “survival actions,” this personal injury action survives the person who suffered the injury. You can bring this claim in addition to the wrongful death claim. To determine the amount awarded, the jury will determine the decedent’s degree of consciousness, the severity of the pain, the apprehension of impending death, and the duration of the suffering.
Get the Help You Need
If someone in your family has experienced a wrongful death or medical malpractice incident, it’s important that you contact an experienced lawyer immediately to understand what your next steps should be. Contact us today for a consultation to see what we can do for you.