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Medical mistakes are a leading cause of preventable injuries and deaths in the United States. Estimates for fatal medical mistakes range between 251,000 and 440,000 per year, depending on the source.
Some of the most common medical mistakes, such as medication errors and misdiagnosis, can very easily result in the death of a patient under the right circumstances. When medical errors kill patients, their immediate family members may have options to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the doctor, nurse, hospital, lab or possibly other parties.
Medical malpractice and wrongful death fall under the broader practice area of personal injury law. A wrongful death case is where the negligent actions of another party caused a person to die and their close family members to suffer damages.
The surviving spouse, domestic partner or children of the decedent may file a wrongful death claim under the right circumstances. Additional parties may also be able to file a claim, so you should speak to an attorney at our firm if you’re unsure about your eligibility.
In California, there are requirements that your case must meet before it can proceed. You must suffer damages to file a personal injury lawsuit.
There is also a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in California. You most likely will not be able to file a lawsuit if you are outside of the statute of limitations. There are exceptions where you can toll (pause) the statute of limitations. In wrongful death cases that involve medical malpractice, the statute of limitations can vary. For example, the statute of limitations is shorter if you are filing a lawsuit against a government-run medical facility. We encourage you to speak with one of our attorneys if you have questions about the statute of limitations for a wrongful death.
You will also need to show the hospital or doctor did not provide your loved one services within the accepted standard of care, and that this breach of duty led to your loved one’s death. A skilled medical malpractice attorney may help preserve and uncover evidence that shows this factor applies to your case.
Damages from a wrongful death lawsuit have similarities with damages in a regular personal injury lawsuit. Survivors of the decedent could incur medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income, and noneconomic costs associated with pain and suffering.
It is never advisable to serve as your own legal counsel, and this is even more true if you are grieving after the death of a loved one. An attorney can help you in a number of ways that include:
There are a couple of ways to find a medical malpractice attorney to take your case, such as Google, referrals from other lawyers or by using social media and asking around. You should pick a medical malpractice attorney who has experience and a record of securing compensation for their clients. Many law firms post their prior settlements and verdicts on their websites, but with identifying information taken out.
Medical malpractice attorneys front the costs of litigating your case and you will not owe fees unless he or she obtains a verdict or settlement. By taking cases on a contingency fee basis, medical malpractice attorneys allow people from all walks of life, whether rich or poor, to pursue justice on behalf of their loved ones.
Mitchell Leeds, LLP is a San Francisco medical malpractice law firm. Our San Francisco medical malpractice attorneys can help you determine whether it would be possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You can reach us for a free consultation by dialing (415)769-3400 or by using our online case review form.