Losing a loved one is a tragic event. It’s even more traumatic when their death could have been avoided. Your may be wondering, “Can you sue a hospital for wrongful death?”
If your loved one died due to medical malpractice, you can seek damages for their passing. These can help you get back on your feet after paying for their funeral expenses and any remaining medical costs.
Many clients ask our wrongful death attorneys if they can sue a hospital for wrongful death.
In some cases, you may be able to. In others, you may need to sue an individual doctor or other healthcare provider who is at fault.
Under what circumstances can you sue a hospital for wrongful death?
Various parties can contribute to one wrongful death due to medical malpractice. Your loved one may have passed due to a doctor’s neglect, a nurse administering the wrong medication, or a myriad of other negligent acts by hospital personnel.
If you believe that the hospital is liable for your loved one’s untimely death, you may be able to sue. You can sue a hospital for wrongful death if:
- The negligence of a hospital employee caused the death, OR
- The hospital’s actions and policies caused the death.
Some instances where you may be able to sue a hospital for wrongful death include:
- The facilities were not clean or sanitized
- Patients developed infectious bedsores
- Patients fell without anyone around to stop them
- Medications were not properly administered
- Staff were incompetent
- Staff were unlicensed
- Hospital was mismanaged
In the United States, not all doctors are hospital employees. They may be contract workers or be operating on a freelance basis. It is important to know your doctor’s employment status if you are considering filing a wrongful death suit.
Hospital negligence is more challenging to prove. It requires the assistance of a wrongful death lawyer who can investigate hospital policies and structures to determine if they are negligent. Their expert knowledge of medical information and their connections with expert witnesses who can help represent your situation in court will make the process much easier for you.
This allows you to focus on your grief while your lawyer worries about suing the hospital for the wrongful death of your loved one.
Hospital vs. Doctor Liability
Hospitals are not always responsible for the actions of those who operate inside their walls. In some cases, doctors and nurses may be independent contractors. This means that they are only contracted to work in the hospital, and thus are not employees.
If these individuals act negligently and cause a patient’s death, the hospital is not usually responsible for their medical negligence, and therefore, you cannot sue the hospital. Instead, you would need to seek damages against the individual contractors who caused your loved one’s death.
It is extremely challenging to determine the difference between an employee and an independent contractor in the medical setting. Your wrongful death lawyer will need to examine the employment contract between the two parties.
In some cases, although the doctor is technically an independent contractor, the hospital may have enough control over their performance and job conditions that a judge will rule that the doctor is an employee.
Can you sue a hospital for wrongful death as well as the doctor?
In some cases, you may be able to sue both the hospital and the doctor who were liable in your wrongful death case.
This depends on a few factors:
- Is the doctor an employee of the hospital?
- Does the doctor have enough insurance to cover the wrongful death suit?
- What specific negligent act caused the death of your loved one?
Determining whether to pursue a legal case against both the hospital and the doctor should be decided with the help of your wrongful death attorney.
What are the steps to take to sue a hospital for wrongful death?
Step 1: Hire a skilled wrongful death attorney who has previously sued hospitals
The medical field is as complicated as the legal field. You do not want to attempt to take on both at once if you are not well versed in both. Hire a lawyer who has had success taking on cases like yours before.
Step 2: Gather evidence
Collect all correspondence, messages, notes, audio calls, and any additional information you may have relating to the care of your loved one at the hospital. This includes doctor recommendations, prescriptions, and bills.
Step 3: Conduct interviews
With your lawyer, speak to individuals who saw your loved one’s treatment and can comment on their behavior.
Step 4: Find expert witnesses
Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath will take care of this step for you by finding expert medical witnesses who can help prove your case.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit on the behalf of the deceased?
Not all individuals can file a wrongful death claim for a loved one. In most states, the following parties can pursue financial damages for the loss of a loved one:
In some instances, other close family members may be able to file a lawsuit for damages. This is usually only the case when the above-mentioned relatives are not then living.
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death claims don’t just involve the damages that you suffered due to your loved one’s care before their passing. It also covers any expenses relating to their death and any trauma your surviving family members have suffered as a result.
Some examples of damages you can collect are:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income that the deceased contributed to the home
- Loss of chores and childcare that the deceased contributed
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial costs
Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of a medical practitioner, our Florida wrongful death attorneys can help you. Our team understands that nothing can replace the individual you lost. You shouldn’t lose more financially when someone else is at fault.
Our expert team will help you navigate the complex medical world and the legal system to ensure that the hospital does not intimidate you into dropping your lawsuit. We will get you the maximum compensation so you can take the time you need to grieve your loved one’s death.
Let us ease your burden. Call today for a free consultation.