Legal Tips & Resources
In a word, yes. You can file a wrongful death claim with a wrongful death lawyer against a hospital, ER or Urgent Care facility for negligence contributing to a wrongful death. In some cases it is the medical provider who is primarily responsible for the death be it through improper medical treatment, negligent staff or unsanitary conditions. However, claimants should be aware that most, if not all, states have implemented recent “tort reform” statutes which offer a greater degree of protection to all medical providers and facilities and generally limit the amount of recovery available to plaintiffs.
Each state has its own statutes and regulations for medical facilities and providers. But generally, the conditions leading to the death of a patient must be grossly negligent. Some states hold facilities and providers to national standards, but other states only hold these same entities and actors to statewide or even local standards. Attorneys in each state who file suit against medical providers are well versed in the standards which will be applicable to your case.
In some states, those wishing to bring a wrongful death suit against any medical provider may face a requirement to have a physician or other certified medical professional provide a written opinion with the lawsuit establishing that the claim has merit. This is another tort reform measure and is generally seen as a way to intimidate other medical professionals into not providing these certifications to avoid a shunning in the professional community in which they practice and live.
Because we are living in the new reality of tort reform, a plaintiff seeking to bring a wrongful death action should consult with a highly experienced attorney who will have the resources necessary to bring the action. Regardless of the standards and statutes in place, experts will be required, depositions or recorded interviews of hospital or ER staff will have to be conducted and a large number of documents will be reviewed. An attorney operating on a shoestring budget will not likely be able to manage the costs of the action and unless a plaintiff is prepared to pay the costs up front, which would be unlikely for the vast majority of Americans, the lawsuit will fail or be settled at a fraction of its value.
It is truly a pity that the general public was so easily misled into jumping on the tort reform bandwagon. Had the general public educated themselves on some of the headlining cases used to justify tort reform, they might not have been so quick to support it. An individual’s right to seek redress through the court system is enshrined in the Constitution and the people of this nation are best served when the dollar amounts deemed appropriate by jurors in civil suits are respected and memorialized by the instant Court’s final judgment.
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