Suing For Wrongful Death In Medical Malpractice Cases

Posted on: 8 January 2015

The laws of every state recognize that people who have lost loved ones due to the negligence of a doctor or hospital have the right to be compensated. That is why you may file a suit for wrongful death in medical malpractice cases that involve a fatality. If you find yourself in these unfortunate circumstances, you need a working knowledge of how the process of bringing action against a medical practitioner works. This article looks at some of the key aspects to keep in mind.


To bring a lawsuit in a wrongful death action you must have standing with the court. Exactly who has standing varies from state to state. Every state, however, allows immediate family members, such as spouses and children, to initiate a suit. If the child or children involved are underage, however, they may need a legal guardian to file on their behalf. Some states allow other family members, such as siblings or grandparents, to bring a suit.


You have the right to ask for various types of damages in wrongful death cases involving medical negligence. Perhaps the most important is economic damages, or pecuniary damages. If you and your family have suffered a financial loss, such as the loss of earnings, due to a loved ones death, you have the right to demand compensation. You can also ask for non-economic damages to compensate for pain and suffering.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are a special case. They are intended to punish the negligent physician or healthcare provider in the most egregious malpractice cases. Most states do not allow these types of damages in wrongful death actions, but some do.

Award Limits

Some states have puts limits on the amounts that plaintiffs may receive in medical malpractice cases. These limits typically apply to non-economic damages and vary from state to state.


All states have statutes of limitations that apply to wrongful death cases. In many instances you have at least two years to bring your lawsuit. In some states, however, you might have only a year. If the person filing the suit is a minor or is mentally challenged, they may have more time to file than the typical plaintiff.

The decision to pursue legal action when a loved one is lost because of medical negligence is not to be taken lightly. If you are considering this option, contact an experienced attorney, such as Burgess & Perigard, in your area who focuses on wrongful death cases.