Unfortunately, mistakes by doctors, nurses, pharmacies, and hospital staff kill South Carolinians each year. If your loved one is included in those fatalities, you have the right to sue the hospital for wrongful death.
If you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit, however, you must first prove through clear evidence that your loved one died as a direct or indirect result of the negligent actions of the defendant at the hospital. This is a daunting task – especially when you need to go head-on against the healthcare agency’s hefty legal teams – so it will require the proven expertise of a wrongful death lawyer in South Carolina.
How Do You Define Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is caused by another party’s negligence, and this does not just happen in the realm of the medical field but also in workplace accidents, auto accidents, manufacturing defects, and more. According to South Carolina law, a lawsuit can be filed to recover damages to benefit the wife, husband, or children left behind.
What Are Some Examples of Wrongful Death Malpractice?
The medical and healthcare field is obligated to provide treatment and care for patients with illnesses or injuries, not inflict harm or cause death. But doctors, nurses, medical care providers, and other healthcare professionals are human and make mistakes that can sometimes be fatal.
Some examples of wrongful death malpractice that justify filing a lawsuit against the hospital where your loved one was a patient include:
- Failing to diagnose a condition
- Misinterpreting lab test results
- Surgical mistakes, such as leaving instruments inside a body after surgery or performing surgery in the incorrect body site
- Incorrect medication or dosage
- Preventable injuries sustained during treatment
- Doctor negligence
- Poor follow-up care or premature discharge
What Is Duty Owed and Duty Breached in a Wrongful Death Case?
The legal term “duty owed and duty breached” refers to something that the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit needs to prove about the defendant: that they had a duty to the victim and they breached, or failed to uphold, that duty.
A prime example of this relationship is the one between a doctor and a patient, where the doctor has a duty to provide the patient with a quality standard of medical care but may fail to do so, resulting in a breach of duty and the death of the patient.
What Are Causations and Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?
Loved ones in a wrongful death lawsuit also need to prove that the hospital at fault caused the victim’s death (causation) and establish that their passing resulted in damages and unavoidable costs to you and other surviving family members. This extends beyond financial damages to emotional trauma and loss of consortium.
Proving this can be difficult in these claims against large corporations or healthcare agencies, such as hospitals and nursing homes. It will require the strength and experience of a wrongful death lawyer in South Carolina to combat them.
Who Can Receive Wrongful Death Benefits from a Lawsuit?
In South Carolina, family members who can receive financial benefits from a wrongful death lawsuit because of the death of a loved one include:
If the deceased has no living parent, spouse, or children, the settlement would be distributed by South Carolina heir laws. Also, if the victim did not have a will, a personal representative may be selected by the court.
What Damages Can Be Covered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can be divided into two categories:
- Compensatory damages, which compensate a deceased’s loved ones for losses related to their injuries.
- Punitive damages, which are awarded in cases where the victim’s death was caused by extreme recklessness or malice.
Suing a hospital for wrongful death could cover financial damages that are now left behind for the family to take on, including:
- Loss of income through employment and wages, pension, savings, business income, or other forms of monetary contributions.
- Loss of contributions to your household, such as childcare, upkeep, meals, and more.
- Property damage
- Medical bills from the illness or injury that led to your loved one’s fatality.
- Funeral and burial costs, which, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), can include burial/cremation, coffin, funeral service and funeral home expenses, grave preparation, and headstone or grave marker.
In some cases, the plaintiff can also sue the hospital for wrongful death to cover intangible losses like emotional trauma and loss of companionship.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Suing a Hospital for Wrongful Death?
The time limit, or statute of limitations, to sue a hospital for most wrongful death cases in South Carolina is three years against non-governmental individuals or organizations. This timeline starts on the date of your loved one’s death, and if the lawsuit is not filed by this deadline, your case will most likely be denied.
If you are suing a defendant affiliated with the government, such as a public hospital, you have two years to file a wrongful death claim. Regardless, no medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuits can be filed more than six years after the malpractice act occurred.
How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Help You Sue a Hospital?
To successfully sue a hospital and receive compensation for your loved one’s death, it is vital to hire an expert wrongful death attorney in South Carolina to gather evidence that will strengthen your claim, negotiate a settlement, and win your lawsuit because of their negligence.