Losing someone you love is never easy. When you believe their death to be the fault of another who neglected them, however, that situation is absolutely heartbreaking. Wrongful death claims allow family members to sue doctors and caregivers whose actions may have led to an untimely death. However, there are a few common myths that are mumbled about wrongful death claims. If you've heard these myths, you may be steering away from actually filing a claim — but don't be fooled. These myths aren't true and should not stand in the way of your case.
It must have been an accident, so you won't win your case.
Your loved one's death very well might have been an accident. The doctor or caregiver probably did not intend for your loved one to die because of their actions. But that does not matter in court. The concept of neglect does not really look at intent. If someone had the duty of caring for your loved one and they did not satisfy that duty — for any reason, intentionally or unintentionally — the court will find them guilty of neglect. Wrongful death cases hinge on establishing neglect, and if neglect is established, there's a good chance you'll win.
You'll put the doctor out of business.
In most cases, suing the doctor for wrongful death will have very little, if any, impact on their career. This is why doctors carry malpractice insurance. You will probably be suing their insurance company, rather than the doctor themselves. Of course, the medical board will be made aware of the case. If the doctor has had few cases in the past, they'll just note it. If the doctor has had a lot of wrongful death cases or several similar cases, the medical board may review their practice and see whether they're really worthy of keeping their license. But that's a good thing. Doctors do make mistakes occasionally, but a doctor who makes a lot of mistakes may be a danger to others — you probably don't want them to continue practicing and causing other untimely deaths!
Filing a lawsuit will take too much time.
It is true that if your case goes to court, you may spend a year or two waiting for everything to be settled. However, many wrongful death suits don't make it into court. Instead, the doctor's insurance company will probably offer you a settlement if you agree not to go to court. You can always accept this settlement offer as compensation and move on with your life if that is what you prefer.
Reach out to an attorney for more information about wrongful death law.