Understanding Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Settlements

wrongful death medical malpractice

Losing a loved one is never easy. After the death of a loved one, you may feel many emotions—pain, sadness, and grief. However, losing a loved one due to someone’s mistake is horrifying. You may ask yourself, How can I hold that person responsible?

Even more concerning, wrongful death in medical practice is on the rise. Currently, John Hopkins estimates that medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Furthermore, a 1999 study estimated that medical malpractice killed 98,000 people in US hospitals. In 2016, that number grew to 250,000 deaths per year.

We understand that no amount of money will bring a loved one back. However, a medical malpractice negligence lawsuit can hold health care providers responsible for losing your loved one. Moreover, winning wrongful death medical malpractice settlements will deter future negligence that can hurt other people and their loved ones.

Due to tort reform, proving wrongful death in Texas is complex. Moreover, the law limits the time you have to file a claim. Therefore, if you suspect your loved one died because of a healthcare provider’s negligence, you must contact a lawyer immediately.

The Hartley Law Firm prides itself on providing aggressive representation when you need it the most. We have a track record of winning favorable settlements for our clients.

How Do You Prove Wrongful Death in Texas? 

Proving wrongful death requires you to:

  • Establish that the healthcare provider has a legal duty;
  • The healthcare provider breached that duty; and
  • The breach was the proximate cause of the wrongful death. 

Proximate cause means that the healthcare provider’s act or omission was a substantial factor in your loved one’s death. 

Also, in medical malpractice negligence, you must show evidence that there was a reasonable medical probability that a provider’s negligence caused your loved one’s death.

What Are Examples of Wrongful Death in Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice comes in all forms. Nevertheless, a healthcare provider may have caused a wrongful death if they:

  • Prematurely discharged a patient,
  • Failed to respond to a medical emergency,
  • Did not order necessary diagnostic tests,
  • Improperly used equipment,
  • Misdiagnosed a patient,
  • Caused an adverse drug interaction,
  • Caused a slip and fall injury,
  • Failed to direct care among other providers,
  • Abused nursing home patients, or
  • Provided ineffective aftercare.

Nonetheless, these acts alone do not necessarily rise to the level of wrongful death in medical malpractice.

You must demonstrate that the healthcare provider did not provide the standard level of care. Standard of care means a level of care that an ordinary doctor in that field of medicine would do under similar circumstances. 

Why Is It Hard to Prove Wrongful Death?

In 2003, Texas passed tort reform and swung the scales of justice in favor of healthcare providers and hospitals. This change in Texas law has encouraged healthcare providers to set up shop in Texas. Thus, Texas law can shield healthcare providers from liability.

However, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can still win wrongful death medical malpractice settlements for their clients. A medical malpractice negligence attorney will know what to sue for and can investigate whether a provider’s negligent care caused the death of your loved one.

What Types of Damages Can You Collect?  

Texas law breaks down damages into economic, non-economic, and punitive. Wrongful death damages will depend on the egregiousness of the healthcare provider’s negligence and the loss incurred.

What Are Economic Damages?  

Economic damages are tangible losses. Examples of economic damages may include:

  • Medical bills,
  • Funeral and burial costs,
  • Loss of future income, and
  • Loss of benefits.

Economic damages are identifiable and calculable. The other side can fight your calculation of damages and come up with its own. However, a lawyer can dispute the other side’s calculations and hold them accountable by winning you a favorable settlement.  

What Are Non-economic Damages?

Non-economic damages are intangible. Therefore, they do not have a clear dollar value. Non-economic damages are often subject to dispute because they are subjective.

Non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim may include:

  • Mental anguish and grief,
  • Loss of companionship and guidance, and
  • Loss of consortium.

Non-economic damages are vital because they hold healthcare providers responsible for their mistakes. Moreover, non-economic damages may deter future negligence and other wrongful deaths.

Can You Collect Punitive Damages in Texas?

In Texas, punitive damages are called exemplary damages. Punitive damages are rare. However, there are some cases where punitive damages are available. To win punitive damages against the healthcare provider, you must show, through clear and convincing evidence, that your loved one’s wrongful death occurred from fraud, malice, or gross negligence.

How Much Can You Collect from Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Settlements?

Texas tort reform capped damages in medical malpractice cases. The cap started at $500,000 in 2003. However, the legislature tied the cap to inflation. Currently, the cap hovers around $1,500,00 to $2,000,000. We can advise you where the current cap stands and how much you may be able to collect. 

Why Is Time Critical?

After the death of a loved one, we know the last thing you want to do is get on the phone with a lawyer. However, you have a limited time to file a medical malpractice negligence claim.

Under Texas law, you must file your claim within two years of the death. The time limit is critical because it is a hard deadline. However, each situation is unique, and exceptions do apply in limited circumstances. Therefore, if two years have passed, you should still contact us, and we will determine whether you can file a claim.

Find the Right Lawyer

At the Hartley Law Firm, we are seasoned lawyers who have a history of winning wrongful death medical malpractice settlements for our clients. We will compassionately represent your interests against those who caused the death of your loved one. We pride ourselves on offering big law firm services while still being accessible to our clients. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. We will review your case within 24 hours.

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