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Medical Malpractice Leading to Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A civil wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal murder trial both involve the death of another person, so aren’t they both the same? The answer is no.

A criminal lawsuit is filed by a government prosecutor who represents the state and victims. A wrongful death charge is a civil lawsuit begun by people or estates that claim an individual or corporation is responsible for the death. Also, the criminal lawsuit may lead to prison time for the guilty verdict, but not for the wrongful death verdict.

Many Americans first heard of a wrongful death lawsuit when former professional football star O.J. Simpson was charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. At the end of the well-publicized trial in 1995, Simpson was found not guilty. However, the families of Brown and Goldman filed a wrongful death lawsuit and in 1997, were awarded more than $45 million as a result.

A wrongful death lawsuit has these elements in common:

  • A person has died.
  • The negligence or intent to cause harm by another person is the cause of the trial. 
  • Family survivors are suffering monetary harm because of the death. 
  • A personal family representative has been appointed for the estate of the descendant. 

Medical malpractice cases are generally brought on after an injury or death stemming from medical care. This can be at the fault of a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or any other medical staff, but the main claim is to prove extreme negligence on the part of those giving the medical care. These can lead to wrongful death charges as well, because a wrongful death charge can result from many differing medical circumstances, such as birth injuries, operating room mistakes, or incorrectly treated automobile accidents. However, a charge of medical malpractice stems specifically from these defined factors:

  • Anesthesia. Patient is given the incorrect amount of anesthesia, which results in death or brain damage. 
  • Childbirth. C-section is not performed correctly; child is injured. 
  • Delayed diagnosis. Patient dies. 
  • Medication. Fatal overdose is administered.
  • Misdiagnosis. Wrong treatment is given; patient dies. 
  • Surgery. Misuse of instruments causes injury or death.

To win a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must meet the “burden of proof.”
In general, that means the plaintiff must be able to show a “preponderance of evidence” indicating responsibility for the death.

The death of a loved one is never easy to accept, but the loss may be made worse by a feeling of helplessness. If you are dealing with such feelings and concerns, contact KBA Attorneys. We have years of experience and understanding of medical malpractice cases, and we will work to make sure that you and members of your family are fairly and rightfully treated, and that the negligence of others leads to justice.