There are a number of hospital employees who may have been responsible for your loved one’s death in a hospital, including:
- A physician who made a medical mistake that caused the death of your loved one
- A nurse who failed to spot signs of distress or a condition that needed further treatment
- The hospital pharmacist who wrongly prescribed a medication that conflicted with something else that your loved one was taking
- Medical technicians who made errors in diagnostic tests
- Paramedics employed by the hospital who failed to notice and treat a condition
If your loved one died from medical negligence, your family might be entitled to significant financial compensation. Call the California wrongful death attorneys at the One Law Group to learn more about suing a hospital for wrongful death.
You Can Sue the Hospital for the Fatal Acts of a Physician Employee
If the doctor was working at a hospital, you could file a lawsuit against both the doctor and the hospital. If the doctor were an employee of the hospital, then they would be considered a legal agent of the hospital.
If the doctor was not working for the hospital, your family can still file a lawsuit against that doctor. The reason to sue a hospital is that, as a corporation or business entity, it may have deeper pockets.
The legal principle in every personal injury case is that an employer is liable for the negligent acts of their employees that occur within the scope of their employment. In many cases, the question is whether you can sue a doctor or a hospital in a wrongful death case. If the doctor were working for the hospital, the answer would be both.
Even if the doctor had privileges at the hospital but was not an employee, you can still sue the hospital. When you can sue both a doctor and a hospital, there are two potential medical malpractice policies that can pay for the damages that your family suffered when your loved one died.
You can sue an individual employee in a wrongful death case, but unless it were a mistake made by the doctor, it will not make much economic sense for you to sue a nurse or other hospital employee. The hospital is the entity with the deepest pockets. Not only do they have a large medical malpractice policy, but they also have assets that can pay a large judgment against them.
What to Prove When Suing a Hospital for Wrongful Death
To figure out the proper party to sue, your lawyer will need to review the specific facts of the case and the doctor’s relationship with the hospital. Even if the doctor was an independent contractor, there might be a number of ways that you can file a lawsuit.
To sue the hospital, you will need to prove that one of its employees was negligent and that negligence caused the death of your loved one. For example, if your loved one died of a postoperative infection, you will need to show that an act or omission of a hospital staff member caused the infection. The same thing goes for any other medical mistake.
To win a wrongful death case, you must prove that the hospital failed to uphold the duty of care that it owed to your loved one by failing to act reasonably under the circumstances.
If you are suing the hospital for the actions of a doctor who practiced there (but was not employed), you will need to prove that the hospital allowed the physician to practice there and continued to do so when they knew that the doctor had a poor record.
Additionally, you can also sue the hospital if you can prove that the hospital had the ability to direct the doctor. Your attorney can obtain the agreement between the physician and the hospital to determine whether you can sue the hospital for wrongful death.
How to Win a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against a Hospital
To win a wrongful death lawsuit, you need to prove that the death was wrongful in the first place. You will need to establish that someone failed to uphold their own duty of care and that it led to the death of your loved one. Oftentimes, the hospital will try to defend the wrongful death lawsuit by arguing that your loved one died of an underlying health condition and that the death will have happened anyway, even without the actions of the hospital.
Whenever you are suing a hospital, you need to have an attorney with specific experience in medical malpractice cases. The hospital and its malpractice insurance company will have defense counsel who will stop at nothing to fight your case. Even if you are offered a settlement, you will need to negotiate extensively before the hospital eventually offers you the amount of money that actually reflects your loss.
Call a California Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
The One Law Group works to get results for our clients who have suffered a personal injury because of someone else’s wrongful actions. To schedule your free initial consultation, you can send us a message online or call us today at (844) 626-1529. You do not need to pay us anything upfront or anything at all unless we win your case.
Wrongful Death Case FAQs
How long do I have to file a wrongful death case in California?
In medical malpractice cases, you have one year from the time that you should have known the death was caused by medical malpractice to file a lawsuit.
What is the discovery rule?
The discovery rule is that the statute of limitations begins to run on the date that you discovered the death was due to negligence.