Family members comfort their dying loved one and consider reaching out to a lawyer to learn about how to sue a hospital for wrongful death.

Can You Sue a Hospital for Wrongful Death?

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire LLP
Jun 18, 2024

Hospitals are supposed to be trusted institutions where families rely on medical professionals to provide the best care for their loved ones. While we expect hospitals to uphold the highest standard of caution, they are not free from carelessness and recklessness.

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In hospitals, where injury and illness are commonplace, it’s easy to assume that death is just a part of the environment, making some think they cannot take legal action. However, if you believe that a hospital’s negligence led to your loved one’s death, you can file a lawsuit.

We will take you through the qualifications required when suing a hospital for wrongful death to clear up any confusion about your right to get justice for your departed loved one. 

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire has supported individuals for over four decades in difficult situations like wrongful death and medical malpractice claims. We approach these cases sensitively while getting clients the closure and compensation they deserve. Contact us online or call (619) 236-9363 today to start your journey toward healing.

How to Sue a Hospital for Wrongful Death

When you sue a hospital for the death of a loved one, you will be pursuing what is known as a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is a case filed by the surviving family members of a deceased individual, alleging that the negligence or wrongful conduct of another caused the death.

Medical procedures carry certain risks, so a poor outcome alone is not enough to bring a claim. However, healthcare professionals must follow accepted medical standards. If they don’t, and their actions harm or lead to a patient’s death, it could be considered medical malpractice

To bring a wrongful death suit against a hospital, you must show the following: 

  • The hospital owed a duty of care to the deceased patient. This duty comes from the patient-provider relationship, requiring hospitals and staff to give care similar to that of competent professionals in a similar situation.
  • The doctor breached the duty of care, leading to the death of your loved one.
  • Establishing a direct link between the negligent actions of the hospital or its staff and the fatal outcome.
  • Your loved one’s death resulted in measurable losses or harm to you and your family through medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of financial support, and emotional trauma.
Steps to prove wrongful death against a hospital

Examples of Hospital Negligence

Several forms of medical malpractice jeopardize patient safety, including: 

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis: if a provider fails to catch a condition on time, it could lead to delayed treatment, worsening of the condition, or missed opportunities for effective intervention.
  • Surgical errors: mistakes made during surgery, such as performing the wrong procedure, operating on the wrong body part, and leaving surgical tools inside the patient.
  • Medication errors: prescribing, dispensing, or administering the wrong medication.
  • Birth injuries: harm to a baby during labor due to mistakes or negligence of healthcare providers.
Diseases with highest diagnostic errors chart

Misdiagnosis, or delayed diagnosis, is one of the leading types of medical malpractice. According to a Johns Hopkins study, roughly 100,000 Americans die or suffer permanent disability because of missed, incorrect, or delayed medical diagnoses.

Furthermore, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, claiming the lives of 250,000 Americans annually. 

Healthcare professionals are supposed to protect patients, not cause further harm or, sadly, in some cases, their deaths. If your loved one is among the thousands who lost their lives because of medical malpractice, we can help you.

Who Can I Sue in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Hospital?

The surviving family members may file a lawsuit against the hospital for the negligence of individuals employed there. 

This can include employees such as: 

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Technicians
  • Any other staff formally employed by the hospital

However, doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other staff aren’t always considered formal employees of the hospital. Some may use the hospital’s facilities for procedures as independent contractors.

In these cases, determining liability can be complex, as the hospital typically can’t be sued for the negligence of non-employed individuals. But before you decide against legal action, you should speak with a lawyer to evaluate whether the hospital knew about the individual’s incompetence.  

Wrongful Death Suit Against Hospital: Who Can File?

Not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one has died due to hospital negligence. Your state’s laws decide who is eligible to sue the hospital. Below are a few examples of people who may be able to file a claim: 

  • Parents
  • Children (including stepchildren in some instances)
  • Siblings 
  • Spouses
  • The executor, or personal representative of the deceased’s estate

Keep in mind that this is not a complete or definitive list guaranteeing who can seek damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Since state laws vary and wrongful death cases can be complicated, it’s not always clear-cut who can qualify. 

To get reliable answers, we recommend chatting with a legal team experienced in these cases. They can identify who is allowed to file a claim following a loved one’s death stemming from hospital negligence. 

Taking legal action against a hospital might feel hopeless at times. Remember that hospitals are responsible for providing safe care, and if negligence caused your loved one's death, you deserve answers.

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire is here to help you uncover the truth. Contact us  online or call (619) 236-9363 to discuss your potential claim. Your actions can prevent others from suffering a similar tragedy.

What Do I Need When Suing a Hospital for Wrongful Death?

It can sometimes be difficult to establish that the hospital’s negligence led to the death of a loved one. Holding the hospital responsible can get tricky, so having the following documentation to support your claim can be helpful: 

  • Medical records, like admission notes, progress reports, surgical records, x-rays, prescriptions, and medication administration logs.
  • Any communication between you (or the deceased) and the hospital or healthcare providers.
  • An official death certificate detailing the cause or circumstances of the death.
  • Financial statements, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and records of your loved one’s lost income, show how the wrongful death impacted you financially. 

Collecting all these documents alone can leave you overwhelmed and scattered. Don’t stretch yourself thin in an already pressing time. Let a lawyer be here for you in your time of need by gathering and presenting this evidence effectively against the hospital.

How Late Can You Sue a Hospital for Wrongful Death?

You generally have around two years from the day your loved one passed away to pursue a wrongful death claim against a hospital. But the exact timeframe boils down to the statute of limitations in your state

These laws restrict the amount of time you have to file a claim. Failing to act in time means that you could lose your chance at compensation. Therefore, it’s helpful to check with a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of your state’s statute of limitations. 

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Hospital: What Damages Can I Recover?

We at Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire extend our condolences to you during this difficult time. Our team understands that no amount of compensation can ease the pain of losing a loved one, but it can lighten the financial burden related to your loss. You may be able to receive financial assistance for: 

  • Your loved one’s medical costs and bills. 
  • Funeral, burial, or cremation expenses.
  • Loss of companionship, care, and guidance.
  • Loss of financial support or contributions from your loved one.
  • Inheritance lost because of your loved one’s passing.
  • The pain and suffering your loved one experienced before their death.
  • The future anticipated income of your loved one. 
Did you know? A wrongful death lawsuit against a hospital can help you get compensation for your loved one's funeral expenses.

Successful Wrongful Death Settlements Won By Our Firm

We take it very seriously when someone decides to entrust our firm with their wrongful death claim, devoting our full attention and resources. Below are a few examples showcasing our successful track record in such cases: 

  • Our team won $5.99 million for a client in a wrongful death case involving a misread biopsy slide for squamous cell carcinoma, leading to widespread cancer and eventual death.
  • $2.5 million in a wrongful death claim resulting from a rear-end collision caused by a company driver, leading to a fatal car fire after police attempted rescue. 
  • A $465,000 settlement in a wrongful death and elder abuse case concerning an 84-year-old resident of a nursing facility, neglected despite high fall risk, resulting in a fatal fall and head injury.

Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire: Pursuing Justice for Your Family’s Loss

Recovering from the death of a loved one can be extremely challenging. It may feel like your life will never be the same again. However, a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital responsible can help you get compensation to restore stability and financial security. 

But it goes beyond just compensation. Legal action can stop similar losses from happening to others in the future. Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire ensures hospital negligence is never overlooked. Contact us online or call (619) 236-9363 to find out if you qualify.