Wrongful Death And Emergency Rooms: Three Common Misunderstandings

Law Blog

When an individual dies as result of emergency room treatment, it's possible that a wrongful death suit may be appropriate. A wrongful death suit will allege that the reason for the death was negligence and that the individual in question would have been able to survive treatment if they had been treated competently. These cases are very difficult to prove but can be necessary, not only for the financial health of the family but to ensure better medical care for others in the future. Still, there are some common misconceptions involved.

1. A Negative Result Is Not Always Actionable

Malpractice suits are complicated because it's difficult to distinguish between a negative result and negligence. Emergency rooms are even more complicated because most of the people coming into emergency rooms are already in dire circumstances. Simply having a loved one unexpectedly die in the emergency room often doesn't qualify someone for a wrongful death suit. In fact, this is often true even if the death came as a result of direct actions of the emergency room personnel — as long as those actions weren't openly negligent. This is why a lawyer well-versed in case law and research is required.

2. Settlements Are Based On Individuals More Than Circumstances

If a wrongful death suit is levied, it's easy to assume that the situation itself will be used to determine settlement or compensation — i.e., what happened to the patient. But what happened to the patient is often not as important as who the patient was. In a wrongful death suit, the settlement is usually based on the individual's lifetime earning expectancy and the individuals who relied upon them for support. Unfortunately, that does mean that a single man who works as a cashier is not going to get the same settlement as an engineer who supports a family of five, even if the exact same scenario happens to both of them.

3. The Death Often Occurs Outside of the Emergency Room

Often, a death might not occur in the emergency room itself. Instead, it could occur because of consequences of the emergency room care. Emergency rooms tend to operate very quickly and efficiency, but that can also lead to negligence. If, for instance, emergency room personnel misdiagnosed an obvious illness or sent a patient home with a life-threatening disease, it could potentially be a case for medical negligence. In these situations, deaths can occur months or even years following the emergency room event. And because of this, a lawyer needs to be able to track the origin of the medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice cases are among the most complex in the legal world. It's usually not possible to successfully litigate a medical malpractice case without the help of a competent attorney. However, if won, a wrongful death case in this situation could help a family weather the financial consequences of their loved one's passing.

For more information, contact a professional in your area or visit a website like http://strohllaw.com.


4 November 2016