Wrongful Death as a Result of Medical Malpractice

by admin on June 3, 2010

What kills more people in the US: cars, guns, or medical errors? Not cars: the number of auto accident fatalities continues to drop and reached their lowest level since the 1950s, just shy of 34,000. Not guns: the average number of firearm murders in the US is less than 11,000 per year. When you add accidental gun deaths, the total rises to over 34,000. But medical errors kill, by some estimates, as many as 200,000 Americans every year, and other estimates go much higher when you add in medication errors. So, are these people killed as a result of medical malpractice “wrongful deaths”? Yes, but not every one results in a wrongful death lawsuit.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is when one person’s negligence or deliberate misconduct results in another person’s death. It is not murder, manslaughter, or even criminal negligence, which are all criminal charges. Criminal charges are made by the state (i.e. “The People”), but wrongful death is a civil lawsuit, when one person alleges that the death resulted in harm that should be redressed through financial damages. Criminal charges result in community service, fines, jail time, or even execution, but a civil lawsuit results in financial damages that are paid to all who suffered as a result of a death. For example, if a drunk driver killed your spouse, the state would charge the drunk driver with murder, vehicular homicide, or another charge as determined by the district attorney with authority over the case. Even if the charges resulted in fines, you would not be paid. But if you filed a wrongful death lawsuit, you could potentially recover financial damages to help you pay bills that were the result of your loved one’s death and to some measure replace the income he or she would have contributed.

Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death

Whenever medical malpractice results in a person’s death, it may be considered a wrongful death as a result of medical malpractice. Common medical errors that can result in death include:

Drug errors, either in prescribing or administering
Failure to diagnose diseases or conditions that result in death
Surgical errors
Infections caught in hospital

In many cases, these errors are preventable, and it is only through lack of attention or distraction that they occur at all.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by any person who suffered damages as a result of the person’s death. Typically, this includes a spouse and dependents, but may also include parents and others who were hurt by the person’s death. This may also include the person who died, and the case is then filed and pursued by the representative of the person’s estate. In legal terms, “hurt” is translated into damages, which are typically divided between economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include actual bills and lost income. Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering for the deceased and loss of consortium for the living. The amount of damages issued will be determined by the jury, after considering the requests made by you and your lawyer in light of the evidence. Laws vary by state, so it’s important to consult local information about your case. To learn more about medical malpractice and wrongful death in Chattanooga, Tennessee, please visit the website of Gary Starnes, Attorney at Law today.

About the Author:
Laws vary by state, so it’s important to consult local information about your case. To learn more about medical malpractice and wrongful death in Chattanooga, Tennessee, please visit the <a rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank” href=”<a rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank” href=”http://www.garystarneslaw.com/index.html”>http://www.garystarneslaw.com/index.html”>website of Gary Starnes, Attorney at Law</a> today.
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