Medical errors are now the in the United States. This staggering statistic should put people on notice that too many doctors and other medical professionals are making critical errors that can cost them their lives.
If you have lost a loved one and suspect medical malpractice is to blame, then you should reach out to an attorney immediately. These cases are complex. We provide an overview below.
Wrongful Death Georgia Law
Deaths caused by medical malpractice are at the intersection of two laws: Georgia’s wrongful death statute and its medical malpractice law.
Under Georgia law, you can bring a wrongful death claim whenever a loved one dies because of another person’s criminal conduct or negligence – or because of a defective product. The surviving spouse can bring the lawsuit or, if there is no spouse, then the children. If the deceased left no spouse or children, then the parents can bring the lawsuit.
Because medical malpractice is a form of negligence, it is covered by the wrongful death statute when the malpractice causes someone to die. Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional does not exercise a reasonable degree of care and skill.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
There is no one type of medical malpractice. Instead, it is specific to the unique facts of your case. In each medical malpractice case, we ask, “What would a careful doctor have done in this situation?” Nevertheless, we tend to see some common medical malpractice situations:
- Failure to diagnose. A doctor did not correctly diagnose an illness or issue that a careful doctor would have.
- Medication errors. A doctor prescribed the wrong medication or in the wrong dosage, causing injury.
- Failure to monitor. A doctor does not monitor a patient after surgery and can’t identify any complications.
- Anesthesia errors. The patient receives delayed anesthesia, too much anesthesia, or is not properly monitored during surgery.
- Birth injuries. A doctor might injure either mother or child. For example, doctors fail to properly diagnose blood loss or high blood pressure in mothers, leading to death. A doctor might also make a critical mistake during delivery that causes fatal injury to the baby.
If a loved one died, and you suspect a doctor or other medical professional made a mistake, you should consult with a Georgia wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
Bringing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against a Hospital
In addition to suing the doctor, you might be able to sue the hospital your loved one died in. However, you can’t automatically hold the hospital liable. Instead, you might be able to bring a wrongful death suit against them in the following situations:
- Was the doctor employed by the hospital? If so, you can sue the hospital. Employers in Georgia have vicarious liability for any injuries their employees cause in the scope of employment. However, hospitals are not vicariously liable for injuries caused by independent contractors.
- Did you seek help in an emergency room? If so, you can hold a hospital liable even if the ER doctor was an independent contractor. The reasoning is that people visit the emergency room to receive treatment from the hospital itself, not from a specific doctor.
In other situations, the hospital might also be negligent. For example, the hospital might not have carefully reviewed whether a doctor was qualified to practice medicine before letting the doctor use the hospital to perform surgery. In other situations, a hospital might be liable for wrongful death if they do not hire adequate staff.
Proving Medical Malpractice
To prevail in a wrongful death medical malpractice claim, you need solid proof the doctor made a mistake that led to your loved one’s death. You must prove the following:
- You must show the doctor owed your loved one a duty of care. Often, this is easy since the doctor-patient relationship imposes a duty.
- You must show the doctor did not exercise a reasonable degree of skill and care.
- You must show the doctor’s negligence caused your loved one’s death.
The second and third elements are usually in dispute in a wrongful death medical malpractice case. For example, a doctor will claim that his conduct satisfied the standard of care and/or that any mistakes made did not cause death.
To build your case, your attorney will typically consult with a medical expert. This person is usually a doctor in the field who can testify about whether your doctor made a mistake and what he or she should have done.
One of the advantages of working with an experienced law firm like Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, is that we have access to high-quality medical experts. These experts have sterling credentials but also understand how to explain complicated medical issues to a jury. Without a qualified expert in your corner, it can be very difficult to win these cases.
Compensation You Can Receive
If you prevail, you can receive compensation for a variety of losses:
- Lost wages your loved one would have earned had he or she lived.
- Loss of companionship, care, and other benefits.
- Burial and funeral expenses.
- Medical bills to treat your loved one’s final illness.
- Any pain and suffering your loved one endured before death.
Each case is different, and not every wrongful death case qualifies for all of the above compensation. For more information, reach out to an experienced attorney today.
Legal Guidance You Can Trust
Medical malpractice causes far too many deaths, and doctors and hospitals must be held accountable. At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, our team of Georgia wrongful death medical malpractice attorneys have been representing clients like you for decades.
To schedule a free consultation where you can learn more, please call or submit an online contact form. Avoid delay.