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When is a Doctor or Medical Facility Legally Responsible for a Patient’s Death?

Posted on in Medical Malpractice

Lake County medical malpractice attorneysLosing a loved one is difficult no matter the circumstances. However, if the loved one’s death was preventable, the loss is especially heartbreaking and infuriating. Sadly, it is estimated that medical errors result in the deaths of over 250,000 people per year in the United States. This makes medical mistakes the third-leading cause of death. 

If you have lost a loved one and you suspect medical negligence played a role in his or her death, you may wonder when a doctor or medical facility is liable for a patient’s death. If your loved one’s death was the result of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss.

Proving That a Wrongful Death Was Caused by Medical Malpractice

Sometimes, a patient passes away and there is nothing that doctors and other medical workers could have done to prevent the death. However, this is not always the case. Failure to diagnose a medical condition or misdiagnosis, medication and anesthesia mistakes, surgical errors, or other forms of substandard medical treatment may result in the injury or death of a patient. 

In order to prove that a medical professional is legally responsible for a patient’s injury or death, four elements must be present:

  • The patient was owed a professional duty. Doctors have a legal obligation to provide competent care to their patients. If a doctor/patient relationship existed between your loved one and the doctor who provided care to him or her, this element is satisfied.
  • The duty was breached. Medical malpractice typically involves a deviation from the “prevailing standard of care.” The prevailing standard of care refers to the type of care that a reasonably capable medical professional with a similar education and experience would provide under similar circumstances. Establishing the standard of care usually requires expert witness testimony.
  • The patient’s injury or death was caused by the breach. In order to bring a successful medical malpractice claim, you and your attorney will need to show that the provider’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of your loved one’s injury or death. This often involves extensive investigation into the doctor’s actions or inaction as well as input from medical experts.
  • The patient suffered damages as a result of the breach. Just because a doctor or other medical professional made a negligent mistake does not mean that an individual has grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. You must also have incurred damages, or costs, due to the injury or death. In the case of a wrongful death claim, this may include medical expenses incurred by the wrongful death, funeral and burial expenses, the loss of your loved one’s income, the loss of your loved one’s guidance or companionship, loss of consortium by the surviving spouse, and more.

Contact a Waukegan Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you have reason to believe that your loved one’s death could have been caused by medical negligence, contact Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. to discuss your options for compensation. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an accomplished Lake County personal injury attorney by calling our office at 847-662-3303 today.

 

Sources:

https://hub.jhu.edu/2016/05/03/medical-errors-third-leading-cause-of-death/

https://courts.illinois.gov/CircuitCourt/CivilJuryInstructions/31.00.pdf

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