Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice leads to the deaths of thousands of patients each year. According to a Johns Hopkins study, statistics show that more than 250,000 deaths are due to medical errors annually in the U.S., positioning it as the third-leading cause of death in the country. If your loved one passed away due to the negligent care of a doctor, surgeon or another type of health care practitioner, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit for medical malpractice in California.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Although each state has unique wrongful death laws, the definition of wrongful death remains essentially the same. In California, wrongful death is when one person’s neglect or wrongful act causes the death of someone else. Neglect can refer to any action or failure to act that falls short of the accepted duty of care. A wrongful act can describe recklessness, a wanton disregard for the safety of others or a crime.
If you wish to bring a lawsuit for wrongful death caused by medical malpractice, your case will involve the failure of a health care practitioner to use the correct medical industry standards of patient care, resulting in patient injury and death. This is the definition of medical malpractice. Many different types of medical malpractice can be dangerous enough to give a patient a fatal injury or illness, including misdiagnosis, surgical errors, anesthesia errors, failure to treat, medication mistakes and birth injuries.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death By Medical Malpractice?
If you believe your loved one died due to medical malpractice, you or your wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles must establish the elements necessary for a successful claim before you and your family can recover financial compensation. While no amount of money can replace your relative, holding a doctor or hospital accountable can bring you justice and the financial award that you deserve. A lawyer can help you establish the four required elements:
- Legal duty of care owed. In a case involving medical malpractice, you must establish that a doctor-patient relationship existed between the defendant and the decedent. This professional relationship will give the defendant a legal duty to act within the medical industry’s standards of care.
- Duty of care breached. There must be evidence that the defendant breached or failed to meet his or her duty of care within the medical industry. This may mean the physician carelessly failed to properly care for a patient or that the physician knew the patient could be harmed but took the dangerous action anyway.
- Actual cause of death. The defendant’s act of medical malpractice must be the proximate or main cause of your loved one’s fatal injury or illness. In other words, you must prove that your loved one would not have died were it not for the defendant’s neglect or wrongful act as a health care provider.
- Damages suffered. Finally, you must establish damages suffered due to the wrongful death. This can encompass many different economic and noneconomic damages suffered by the decedent’s surviving loved ones, including lost earnings, loss of consortium, lost guidance and companionship, and funeral and burial expenses.
A wrongful death lawsuit in California requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s mistake directly caused the fatal injury of the deceased individual. You or your lawyer must prove this based on a preponderance of the evidence, or enough evidence to establish fault as more likely to be true than not true.
Consult With an Attorney for Assistance
Since medical malpractice and wrongful death are both complex practice areas, it is important to work with an attorney to help you prove your case. Find a wrongful death attorney who specializes in medical malpractice and medical negligence for the strongest possible legal representation. Contact Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP today for a free consultation to find out how we can help your family after a death caused by medical malpractice in Los Angeles.