When Medical Malpractice Results in Fatalities – Legal Options for Grieving Family Members

According to a new analysis from the American Medical Association, over 30% of doctors are sued by their patients, but most claims end with no finding of negligence or error. Nevertheless, medical malpractice does happen and, in many cases, is fatal. Maryland is one of the states with a high rate of medical malpractice. Some of the most common medical errors leading to malpractice are prescribing the wrong treatment, misdiagnosis, unnecessary surgery, failure to order lab tests, and ignoring the patient’s concerns. While surgery is the medical specialty with the highest malpractice lawsuit frequency, psychiatry has the lowest. In the regrettable case medical malpractice results in the death of the patient, their family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover the damages they are entitled to, which include medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and funeral and burial expenses.

On August 17, 2023, a Baltimore County jury awarded $9 million to the estate, widow, and children of Randolph Mack, a pastor who died from a painful, infected pressure injury caused by the negligence of the second-largest nursing home in the state, Stella Maris, Inc. It is believed to be the highest verdict in a Maryland nursing home lawsuit. The verdict included $8 million as financial compensation to the deceased’s estate for his pain and suffering and $1 million for the emotional harm experienced by the family. The victim’s medical records showed that the nursing home left Mr. Mack on his back for many hours without being repositioned, which caused the pressure injury to develop into a Stage IV wound, which is the highest stage. Mr. Mack’s case is just one of many that occur annually throughout the state. In the regrettable case that you lost a family member due to the negligence of a medical professional, you can also take legal action.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Medical Malpractice on Behalf of a Deceased Family Member

Even though your loved one cannot be brought back to you, there are some benefits to be gained by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. Maryland, like every other state, has a set of laws that apply to these claims. If you lose a family member to medical malpractice, you have three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The deceased person’s spouse, parents, or children can file a claim in Maryland. If no one in any of those groups survives the decedent, any individual related to them by blood or marriage and who was dependent on them may file the claim. The claim is meant to provide the surviving family members with compensation for the loss of the victim’s companionship and financial support that they would have continued to receive if the person had not died.

To recover damages for the death of a family member, you must show that the medical professional acted negligently. A negligence claim includes four elements. To establish the first one, you must prove that the medical professional owed the deceased a duty of care, which requires everyone to act with the same care that a reasonably prudent individual would use in similar circumstances. The second element requires you to prove that the responsible party failed to meet this standard of care, and the third element requires you to show that the medical professional’s breach of the standard of care was the cause of the person’s death. The final element of negligence requires you to show that, as a result of the medical professional’s breach, your loved one suffered damage.

Working with a Personal Injury Attorney, Essential in Successfully Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Losing a family member is always distressing and traumatic. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is a very complex and overwhelming process, and the law can change at any time. If you are thinking of filing a wrongful death claim in Maryland, consider consulting a personal injury attorney whose area of practice focuses on medical malpractice. A wrongful death attorney can secure compensation for the bills you will most likely face in the aftermath of your loved one’s death. Furthermore, with a reliable attorney, you can pick up the phone and clarify any legal aspect that may be confusing you. Ultimately, a personal injury attorney with relevant experience in these cases will offer you the guidance you need throughout the entire process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit.