Medical Malpractice & Wrongful Death Benefits
Does a case for wrongful death exist?
Every case that involves a patient’s death is not eligible for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Your case for wrongful death must meet certain criteria. Before filing a lawsuit, determine whether:
- there was a clearly established standard of care for the treatment of the patient;
- the doctor violated the standards of care;
- the doctor’s violation of the standard of care resulted in fatal injuries or illness to the patient; and
- you and other survivors suffered damages.
Legal Options for Survivors
There are two types of legal actions that survivors may take when a patient’s death has occurred as a result of medical negligence:
- a survival action, which claims compensation for the victim’s estate for the patient’s damages before he or she died, such as pain and suffering; and
- a wrongful death action, which claims compensation for the losses suffered by the victim’s survivors.
While medical malpractice cases typically have a one-year statute of limitations, any wrongful death action has a two-year statute of limitations that starts running upon the discovery of the negligence that resulted in the death. This rule is in place to help family members and loved ones who may not be immediately aware that negligence was involved in their loved one's death.
Types of Medical Malpractice-related Wrongful Death Benefits
A wrongful death compensation claim can be filed for the benefit of the spouse, children, and dependents of the victim.
Compensation available under a wrongful death action may include:
- Loss of support from the earnings of the deceased;
- Loss of services of the victim;
- Loss of his companionship and consortium (this includes loss of guidance, protection)
- Loss of expected inheritance; and
- Mental anguish.
A medical malpractice lawyer will be able to calculate the damages based on each of these components to arrive at a quantifiable figure.
A survival action may recover expenses for the victim’s estate, such as:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages before death; and
- Pain and suffering.
Caps on noneconomic damages will not apply if you choose to file a wrongful death action seeking compensation for your losses resulting from the decedent’s passing. However, these caps will apply on noneconomic medical malpractice damages
if you file a survival action that seeks compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering just before he or she died.
While nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit can reimburse you for your economic losses and provide compensation for noneconomic damages. Call a medical malpractice lawyer at Ryan, LLP in Cleveland to review your options for compensation. Initial consultations are free. Contact us
About the author of this article: Thomas Ryan