If you have experienced the loss of a close family member due to medical malpractice, you may have legal recourse in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit. A successful lawsuit can provide much-needed financial resources to pay medical and funeral bills, replace lost income, help defray other expenses associated with the loss, and give you a sense of closure.

Medical malpractice wrongful death cases are complex. They are difficult to prove without the help of a seasoned attorney. Our team at Salamati Law in Los Angeles is committed to helping those who have been injured through no fault of their own.

Understanding wrongful death medical malpractice claims

Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals hold an important place in society. They have specialized training in healing– and work hard to help us—when we are our most vulnerable. So, when bad judgment or careless mistakes cause harm to a patient, it must be addressed.

Medical professionals can commit malpractice by either omission or commission– either by doing something wrong or by failing to do what they were supposed to. Some of the common ways medical malpractice causes death includes:

  • Diagnosis – A doctor gives the wrong diagnosis or overlooks the correct diagnosis until it is too late to effectively treat the true illness or injury.
  • Medication – A provider might prescribe (or someone else may administer) an unsafe medication or an incorrect dose.
  • Surgery – A lot can go wrong during surgery, from the wrong anesthesia to an incorrect dose of another medication, to damaged tissue or even surgical tools left inside the patient.
  • Emergency room – Deadly mistakes can include taking the wrong approach in a life-or-death situation like ordering the wrong tests, performing the wrong procedure, or sending a sick person home too early.

The question is not just what happened, but– would a competent medical professional practicing in the same medical and geographical area have done something differently? If so, was the mistake in medical care a reasonable cause of death? If the answer to both is yes, then the error may constitute medical malpractice.

Who can file a medical malpractice wrongful death claim

According to the California Code of Civil Procedure 377.60, heirs of the deceased person or their personal representatives may file a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes a spouse or domestic partner, children, grandchildren, if the children are also deceased, and certain others who financially depended on the deceased.

Though there may be many people eligible to file a claim, California also has enacted the “one action” rule. It requires anyone who files a wrongful death lawsuit to also name all known heirs as parties to the case. Any judgment is awarded to the family as a whole, and they must then decide how to distribute it.

Preparing to file a medical malpractice wrongful death claim

Unless a special exception applies, wrongful death cases must be filed within two years of a family member’s death. It is important to speak with an attorney as early as possible to discuss whether your claim has merit.

Some of the preparation before filing a wrongful death claim might include gathering medical records and arranging an expert witness to provide an opinion and testimony regarding the standard of medical care received. These steps can seem overwhelming, but your attorney will take the lead.

Speak with a CA lawyer about filing a wrongful death claim

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one and believe it may be due to medical malpractice in Southern California, speak with a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer at Salamati Law.

Attorney Sean Salamati is dedicated to fighting for the rights of people harmed by reckless or negligent behavior, and is here for you, too. Legal consultations are always free and confidential, so call today.