Can I sue a hospital for wrongful death?
Suits can be filed against health care providers of all types for medical negligence leading to wrongful death. Included are:
- Licensed vocational nurses
- Registered nurses
- Walk-in medical centers and clinics
Some examples of what may constitute medical malpractice include:
- an unexpected or very different result than expected from a surgery or treatment
- severe injury or death that occurs as a result of “routine” treatments or surgeries
- when no reasonable explanation for the death or worsened condition of the patient can be provided
- death from a procedure
In Florida, a medical malpractice action must be brought within two years from the date of the incident or from the date when the incident was or should have been discovered. An exception applies in cases where the facility knowingly withheld bad or inappropriate action from the claimant.
There is a requirement to serve a notice of intent to sue prior to pursuing the case in court. This starts with a medical affidavit called a Certificate of Merit. This is an opinion from another physician who has reviewed the case and makes a statement that the defendant’s negligent actions lead to the demise of the decedent. The statement should include:
- identification of all of the medical records reviewed
- explanation of the applicable medical standard of care that the defendant should have followed (i.e., what a reasonable physician in the defendant’s position should have done)
- opinion that the defendant failed to follow the applicable standard of care (i.e., that the defendant was negligent)
- opinion that the defendant’s negligence was a cause of the plaintiff’s injury (this is not always required); and
- physician’s reasoning.
This notice sets in motion a 90-day settlement process. During that period, verification of adherence to the statute of limitations is reviewed. Within this time frame, the hospital must make a decision as to whether or not they would like to settle the case. If they choose not to settle, you, the claimant, have 60 days or the remainder of the statute of limitations to file the lawsuit. In some cases, an extension is available to pursue additional investigation. Due to the complexities of these laws, experienced legal representation is required to ensure all burdens are met.