A wrongful death lawsuit can help those that have lost a loved one to medical malpractice recover their losses.
Even though physicians and medical professionals require many years of training for their jobs, they are only human and make mistakes from time to time. If the patient survives the medical error, and the error rises to the level of medical malpractice, the patient can sue the responsible party and recover damages. However, what are the recovery options for those killed by malpractice? In such cases, certain family members of the deceased are entitled to recover financial losses in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to compensate the deceased's close family members and financial dependents for economic losses caused by the death. Although this type of legal action is often filed following fatal instances of medical negligence, it is available in other instances where the deceased's death was caused by someone else's negligence (e.g. car accidents, etc.).
Overview of lawsuit
In New York, like most other states, the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit is controlled by statute. However, unlike most lawsuits, the aggrieved party (i.e. family members and dependents) does not sue the negligent party directly. Instead, the personal representative of the decedent's estate sues the responsible party on behalf of the aggrieved family members and dependents, who are called beneficiaries.
All compensation that the personal representative is awarded in the lawsuit is distributed to eligible beneficiaries according to the law. Eligible beneficiaries include only the spouse and minor children of the deceased in the majority of lawsuits. However, any family member that can prove a financial dependence on the decedent is also entitled to share in the proceeds.
In New York, recovery in wrongful death lawsuits is limited to the actual monetary losses caused by the death. This means that noneconomic losses suffered by the beneficiaries, such as loss of companionship and mental anguish may not be recovered. Losses that are compensable under the law include:
• Loss of inheritance
• Loss of decedent's income
• Decedent's pain and suffering endured prior to death
• Loss of services and support provided by decedent
• Loss of parental care, nurture and guidance
• Punitive damages (if death was caused by reckless, willful or intentional conduct)
Even if the beneficiaries have suffered no other monetary losses, the decedent's medical bills and funeral expenses may be recovered.
Get the assistance of an attorney
In cases of suspected medical malpractice, demonstrating that the death was wrongful requires proving that it was caused by a medical provider's failure to meet the minimum standard of care. This is often a tricky thing to prove, as it requires expert testimony. As a result, it is vital to have the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney throughout the process. The seasoned attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP can work with established medical experts to establish the presence of medical negligence, giving you the best chance of a successful recovery.