Medical malpractice incidents may result in someone’s death. If this is the case, a legal claim will involve many people, and several steps must precede damages assessments and distributions. An experienced attorney should be contacted as soon as medical malpractice is suspected because the advocate can begin an investigation and determine how to move a case forward. The medical malpractice attorneys in Charleston at Salango Law, PLLC are highly experienced and knowledgeable. They have ample experience in medical malpractice cases.
What Is Wrongful Death In Medical Malpractice Cases?
Under West Virginia law, a family can file a wrongful death claim that allows the family to receive damages for the death of the individual. Sometimes those deaths result from medical malpractice, which occurs when a healthcare provider deviates from the standard of care and causes a patient’s death. Medical malpractice can be perpetrated by a doctor, nurse, physician’s assistant, dentist, pharmacist, etc.
For example, suppose a doctor leaves something in someone’s body on accident, and it causes an infection that leads to the patient’s death. The doctor may be guilty of medical malpractice. Additionally, the hospital or medical care facility may be liable, as well.
Who Can File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
If a wrongful death occurs due to medical malpractice, a variety of people can receive damages because of their suffering resulting from the person’s death. Those individuals include:
- The surviving spouse;
- Children, stepchildren, and adopted children;
- Parents and siblings;
- Any dependent of the deceased person; or
- Anyone who should be equitably entitled to share in the distribution of damages.
The allocation and award of damages depends on a variety of factors. These factors include whether the case went to trial or those involved agreed to settle it.
Damages In Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Cases
Economic damages mean compensation for losses such as medical expenses, earnings, use of property, etc. For example, suppose someone dies due to medical malpractice, and a surviving spouse sues for damages. In that case, the court may examine the following:
- The medical expenses incurred by the family due to medical malpractice.
- The earnings lost by the spouse as a result of their death, including future or past earnings that the spouse would have brought in, as well as raises and bonuses.
Non-economic damages mean compensation for subjective monetary things like pain, suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship, and loss of consortium. These damages are more difficult to calculate because they do not appear on an invoice. Instead, it is subjective on how someone reacts to the situation. For example, a child may have more emotional distress and loneliness than a sibling when someone dies. Those affected by cases involving non-economic damages can hire an experienced attorney to review the case and determine what to ask for in a lawsuit.
Medical Malpractice Caps
In West Virginia, there are caps for medical malpractice cases to ensure no one gets excessive money because a jury does not like a doctor or hospital. However, the caps only apply to the non-economic damages portion of the total damages; this means that the doctor and the hospital may still be liable for all economic damages regardless of the cost.
The non-economic damages cap for a wrongful death medical malpractice case is currently $500,000. However, these caps annually adjust for inflationary changes.
Statute Of Limitations
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death medical malpractice case is two years. If a medical malpractice lawsuit claiming a wrongful death is not brought within two years after the accident occurs, then the court may dismiss the lawsuit. However, there are exceptions to the two-year rule in a wrongful death medical malpractice case because sometimes it isn’t known what caused the death until later, especially for medical malpractice cases since the negligence likely occurred long before the death occurred. As a result, the clock for the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the person bringing the lawsuit discovers the reason for the death or reasonably should have realized that a wrongful death occurred
Tolling The Statute Of Limitations
In West Virginia, the statute of limitations may extend if one of the defendants committed fraud or tried to conceal or misrepresent the facts to cover up the actual cause of death.
Statute Of Repose
However, a statute of repose ensures that victims cannot bring medical malpractice cases after 10 years. Like the statute of limitations, this limits the time individuals can make medical malpractice claims.
How Long Will A Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Case Take?
Wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuits can take a long time because of the case’s complexity. For example, there could be numerous depositions of everyone in the operating room, those who suffered because of the loss of life, and even hospital directors. Additionally, expert witnesses can appear to determine if the standard of care deviated. Most medical malpractice wrongful death cases will settle because of the length and expense a trial will take; however, even settlements can take years to determine.
Hiring A Medical Malpractice Attorney In West Virginia
If you or someone you know suspects that medical malpractice caused the wrongful death of a loved one, you can contact an experienced wrongful death attorney in Charleston. A skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney will review the facts of the case, gather evidence, and begin investigating the wrongful death case. The attorneys at Salango Law, PLLC are competent personal injury attorneys with a background in issues like this and can review the facts of the case and give you a strategy moving forward. To contact one of our Salango Law, PLLC attorneys, contact us at (304) 342-0512 or reach out online.