Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death
If a close family member died because of mistakes made by a medical professional, you are naturally dealing with the sadness and sense of loss due to the death of a loved one. You may also be feeling frustration and anger because the death was caused by a trusted medical professional, perhaps someone who has treated your family member in the past.
In these circumstances you may be able to file a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit. The complaint would state that your loved one lost his or her life because of the negligence of another party (wrongful death) and the other party was a medical professional who acted negligently, causing harm to your loved one (medical malpractice). Wrongful death is a type of legal action, while medical malpractice describes a type of negligence case.
In the case of a hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility or group home, these cases could arise in a number of situations:
- A diagnosis is missed by a physician, allowing a deadly disease or condition to progress.
- A nurse failed to discover that something was wrong with the resident, resulting in delayed diagnosis, and a disease or condition continued until it was ultimately fatal.
- A resident was given too much medication, causing an overdose, or not enough medication was administered, allowing worsening of a disease or condition.
- A resident was provided the wrong medication, resulting in an allergic reaction or fatal side effects, or the medication simply had no effect and allowed a disease or condition to progress.
- A radiologist misread an X-ray or CT scan or a pathologist failed to come up with the proper diagnosis based on misreading a tissue sample and a disease or condition progressed.
- Surgery or a medical procedure was not performed properly, causing death.
- A resident (or the person’s guardian or health care agent or proxy) wasn’t properly informed of the risks or side effects of a medication or procedure which resulted in the person’s death. There was no informed consent in the situation and the course of treatment would not have been pursued if he or she had received the proper information.
- The facility and staff failed to properly assess the resident or patient, or develop and implement a proper care plan to provide for the safety of the resident or patient. An example would be a fall leading to a fracture, brain bleed or death. Another example would be the failure to prevent and treat a pressure ulcer (aka decubitus ulcer or bedsore).
Maryland’s wrongful death statute allows for the filing of a legal action “against a person whose wrongful act causes the death of another.”
- “Wrongful act” is defined as “an act, neglect, or default including a felonious act which would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued.”
- The primary beneficiaries of a wrongful death action are the spouse, parent and/or child of the decedent.
- Relatives by blood or marriage who were financially dependent upon the deceased might also be valid claimants, if there are no spouse, parents or children.
When the deceased is a spouse, minor child, parent of a minor child, or an unmarried child that is not a minor, the wrongful death statute provides damages for “pecuniary losses,” (economic losses) if any, and damages for “mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, marital care, parental care, filial care, attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance, or education.…”
Just because a person died while under the care of a medical professional doesn’t mean malpractice occurred, even if a medical professional in the course of the diagnosis and treatment made a mistake. The legal system won’t provide compensation for every mistake made while someone is under medical care.
These are the requisites for a medical malpractice claim in Maryland:
- There was a duty of care owed by the health care provider to the patient (the professional was under an obligation to provide a generally accepted standard of medical care);
- The duty was breached by failing to act in accordance with the applicable standards of care (the professional did something, or failed to do something, which should not have happened);
- The breach was the proximate (legal) and actual cause of a medical injury; and
- Damage resulted.
Wrongful death medical malpractice cases can be highly complex, costly, and take a long time to pursue. They can also be highly emotional because a loved one lost his or her life due to mistakes made by a trusted medical professional. Family members may blame themselves for agreeing to have a particular medical care provider involved or a certain procedure done. It’s not their fault — they made they the best decisions they could to help their loved one. It was the mistakes by the health care provider that caused the loss of the loved one.
A majority of the cases handled by the Law Offices of Roger S. Weinberg, LLC involve the loss of a spouse, parent or child. We understand the situations our clients are suffering through and have the experience and skills to obtain the highest possible compensation for your loss. For compassionate, competent advocacy following the death of your loved one, call 410-825-3161 or use this online contact form to arrange for a free consultation.