Can You Sue a Hospital for Wrongful Death?

The American civil court system gives everyone the ability to sue anyone for just about anything. If you’ve gone through the experience of the wrongful death of a loved one in a hospital, you can sue the hospital, but the advisability of such an action depends on the circumstances of the death. That might not directly answer the question of “can you sue a hospital for wrongful death?” However, it does highlight the fact you need to consult with a wrongful death attorney to decide upon a course of action to seek compensation for your loss. Here’s a look at what’s involved in suing a hospital for a wrongful death.

How a Hospital Can Be Responsible for Wrongful Death

Hospitals have a duty of care to their patients, the same as the doctors and other healthcare employees with patient responsibilities. The hospital organization can be sued for wrongful death when they fail to provide services or goods that are required to keep patients alive and out of danger. Here are some of the conditions that a hospital can be sued for regarding a wrongful death:
  • Inadequate facility maintenance and sanitation
  • Inattention to patients that need higher levels of care
  • Improper care for bedridden patients
  • Allowing bedsores to take hold
  • Poor hiring standards
  • Improper delivery of medication
  • Failure to fire incompetent or unlicensed employees.

Suing a Hospital When a Doctor or Other Healthcare Employee was at Fault

Suing a hospital may not be advisable when it’s clear that the wrongful death was caused by a physician, nurse, technician, or any member of the medical staff that has patient responsibilities. In the event that the hospital was operating normally and employees were held to accepted standards, it’s difficult to show that the hospital was negligent; the hospital administration played no direct role in the actions taken by the employee that led to a wrongful death. However, a wrongful death lawsuit may be possible if it can be proven that a decision was made by the administrative staff that lead to a wrongful death in a hospital.

A Hospital May be Liable Even When the Doctor Wasn’t an Employee of the Hospital

Sometimes a physician has privileges to work at a hospital through a contract, but is not an employee of the hospital. Technically speaking, when a doctor or surgeon is a contractor, the hospital doesn’t have oversight of their actions, and therefore has no responsibility for what they did or didn’t do during the procedure. This is true when the hospital has given the physician access on good faith. That is, the hospital felt the doctor or surgeon had a good reputation prior to contracting with them, and there was an expectation that the physician would do their job according to their training and accepted standards. A hospital can be held liable when they knew otherwise and failed to take corrective action.

When a hospital knows that a physician is performing poorly, yet keeps that physician on contract, the hospital is essentially saying that it doesn’t care about patient outcomes. The facts of the situation are usually more nuanced; nevertheless, a hospital can put the lives of its patients at risk by retaining and not disciplining the physician or terminating their contract. This opens up the hospital for liability in a wrongful death in a hospital lawsuit. Loved ones who are seeking resolution should consult with a wrongful death attorney for a situation such as this. The attorney can gain access to hospital records and determine whether or not the hospital is liable.

Seeking Compensation for the Loss of a Loved One

The loss of a loved one due to a wrongful death in a hospital is traumatic and can be financially devastating. Suing a hospital for a wrongful death is primarily done to recover money that would otherwise be earned by the family member who lost their life. Families of the deceased can sue for damages and losses that include:
  • Lost wages or other income
  • Loss of companionship
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering of the survivors
  • Loss of pension or retirement funds.

Don’t Wait to File a Lawsuit for a Wrongful Death in a Hospital

The state of Kentucky has laws known as statutes of limitations. These statutes define how much time someone has to bring a personal injury lawsuit against an individual, entity, or organization that’s responsible for a wrongful death. In Kentucky, you only have one year to make the decision to file a lawsuit for a wrongful death. It’s not a lot of time, especially when dealing with the aftermath of a sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one. 

Your best course of action is to talk to a wrongful death lawyer in the weeks following the incident in order to learn whether there are grounds for a lawsuit. If so, evidence needs to be preserved in order to prove negligence or malpractice. Collecting evidence as soon as possible after the incident is crucial when it comes to pursuing a wrongful death case against a physician or a hospital. Retaining a lawyer for a lawsuit over a wrongful death in a hospital can bring relief to you and your family. A wrongful death attorney can take care of the issues that arise on your behalf so you can grieve without extra pressure. Meanwhile, you gain the peace of mind knowing that your loved one’s death won’t be dismissed or ignored and that there is a form of justice for them.

Call the Johnson Law Firm Today for Help with a Wrongful Death in a Hospital

If you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one in a hospital and need help, call the Johnson Law Firm at 606-437-4488 and ask to speak with Billy. He works directly with his clients and makes sure that they get the personal attention they need during a tough time. Billy Johnson can take care of the legal issues involved with a wrongful death and help a family recover damages suffered when a loved one is lost through medical negligence or malpractice.

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