Losing a loved one is a terrible tragedy. Many deaths occur in the hospital, whether after an accident or because of illness that was being treated at the time. In many cases, the hospital and your loved one’s medical staff may have done everything that they could to save your loved one, but in other cases, their failures and mistakes could have actually contributed to the death. If your loved one died because of hospital negligence, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit against the hospital and its staff under Arkansas’ wrongful death laws. Fayetteville, AR wrongful death lawyer Ken Kieklak explains.
When Can I Sue a Hospital for Wrongful Death?
Hospital negligence and medical malpractice occasionally lead to tragic deaths. Generally, healthcare providers are held to a duty of reasonable care when they treat patients. This means providing them with the same care that any other reasonable medical professional would have provided them in that situation. Some medical care comes with side effects and potential risks, but injuries and increased harm from these issues typically do not lead to negligence. Instead, hospitals can he held accountable for their staff’s outright dangerous conditions or for medical care that fell below the standard of care your loved one should have received.
Typically, hospital negligence refers to issues with the building, protocols, or staff in the hospital. Many people suffer from hospital negligence when nurses and other staff commit medication errors, fail to keep facilities safe causing slip and falls or premises liability accidents, fail to properly clean rooms, or allow hospital-acquired infections spread to the patient. Wrongful death from hospital negligence usually involves substantial drops in the quality of care that put your loved one’s life in danger.
You can sue the hospital for wrongful death if their negligence helped cause your loved one’s death. If the deceased would have passed away anyway because of their injuries or illness, there is nothing that the hospital did to cause the death – but if their negligence reduced their chance of survival or caused missed opportunities to get better, the hospital should be held accountable.
Do I Sue the Doctor or the Hospital for Wrongful Death?
In many medical malpractice and wrongful death cases, choosing the specific parties to include in the lawsuit is important. In some cases, failing to include the doctor in the lawsuit may mean you need to go back to the beginning and file the case against the doctor all over again, so it is vital to talk to a lawyer about who to include in the lawsuit.
Whether you sue the hospital or the doctor for negligent medical care typically comes down to the inner workings of the hospital as a business organization. Many doctors are private practice physicians who have admitting privileges at a local hospital or perform surgeries and other procedures at the hospital’s facilities without actually working for the hospital. More and more today, physicians are actual hospital employees and work in conjunction with the rest of the hospital staff as part of the same team.
Generally, if the doctor is a separate entity, then you sue whichever entity was personally responsible for the injuries and death. If the doctor made the errors, you might sue the doctor alone; if the hospital caused the injuries, you might similarly sue the hospital alone. However, if it is difficult to tell who was at fault or they both contributed to the negligent care, you should sue both of them.
If the doctor works for the hospital or hospital network, you likely want to sue the doctor and the hospital together. Typically, Arkansas law allows you to sue an employer for the negligence of its employee – in this case, allowing you to sue the hospital for the doctor’s errors. However, if the doctor is the one who personally caused the problems or oversaw your care, you should also include them directly in the lawsuit.
In many cases, patients die from the negligent medical care they received from a doctor, not from the hospital conditions themselves. In these cases, you certainly want to include the doctor as the primary defendant, potentially adding the hospital if it is appropriate to do so. Alternatively, in the rare case that your loved one was killed because of negligent conditions in a hospital (e.g., slippery floors, dark hallways, infections, or unclean rooms), you may want to sue the hospital as the primary defendant.
Deciding which parties to sue is something your attorney can help you with. Medical malpractice lawyers typically investigate their cases and interview the appropriate parties to determine who exactly was at fault and how the theory of the case explains that blame. In doing so, your lawyer will determine which parties to sue and advise you on why you should or should not include certain parties in the lawsuit. In many instances, including large corporations like hospitals or insurance companies in the claim ensures that there is sufficient funding to cover damages as well as ensuring that all potential at-fault parties are included.
Call Our Fayetteville Hospital Wrongful Death Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you lost a member of your family to negligent medical care or dangerous hospital conditions, talk to our Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer today about filing a wrongful death claim. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, files wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits on behalf of medical malpractice victims and their families to seek compensation for their losses and help them move on with their lives. To schedule your free legal consultation today, call (479) 316-0438.
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