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Establishing Hospital Liability Following a Wrongful Death

When a person passes away as a result of the medical malpractice caused in a hospital, the victim’s heirs, dependents, or estate representatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital. The State of California’s wrongful death laws will allow a victim’s survivors the ability to file a lawsuit against the hospital and possibly be awarded damages.

If you lost a loved one as a result of medical negligence, filing a wrongful death claim can help cover the expenses associated with your loved one’s untimely death. Awarded damages can include costs associated with the crematory or burial services, funeral costs, and medical bills that were accrued prior to the victim’s passing. Speak to a well-versed attorney who can help you through the process of filing a wrongful death claim.

Understanding When a Hospital Can Be Held Responsible Following a Wrongful Death

There are several ways in which hospitals can be held responsible following a patient’s untimely passing. The most common ways in which they can be held responsible include:

  • The hospital employed the negligent nurse, anesthesiologist, physician, or other health care provider, or
  • The hospital committed negligence by hiring the employees, failing to maintain or repair the equipment that led to the patient’s passing, or oversaw the medical care provided.

Accountability for Negligence Caused by Independent Contractors

Generally, a hospital will not be held legally responsible for the negligence a non-employed medical care provider committed while working at the hospital. In order to avoid accountability, many hospital settings will employ medical care providers as independent contractors. Unless employed directly by the hospital, the hospital will not be held accountable for the medical negligence committed by their independent contractors.

In order to determine whether a medical care provider is an independent contractor or has been employed by the hospital is usually a complex legal matter, as it can involve analyzing the employment contract between the parties. Furthermore, it may also be necessary to investigate how much control the hospital had over the medical care provider’s work conditions and his or her job performance.

For the most part, the more control a hospital has over the medical care provider’s daily duties, the more likely a civil court will find the medical caregiver to be a hospital employee, thus making the hospital responsible.

Determining a Hospital’s Negligent Actions

A hospital may also be found negligent in its actions and there are many ways in which their negligence can lead to the untimely death of a patient. Some of the most common ways in which a hospital can be found negligent include:

  • Neglecting to ensure the health care providers are sufficiently trained, adequately licensed, and competent enough to provide reasonably safe medical procedures;
  • Neglecting to fire unlicensed, incompetent, and unsafe employees;
  • Failing to establish safety protocols, such as the labeling and administration of medication, sanitation, and preventing patient slip and falls; and
  • Having insufficient medical staff.

After a Medical Negligence Caused the Untimely Death of Your Loved One, Speak to a Qualified Attorney Who Can Help You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The decision to sue the hospital can be complicated, and it is likely that the decision will require the legal support of a qualified attorney. Medical negligence is usually difficult to establish. If you lost a loved one as a result of the careless actions of the hospital he or she was being treated in, seek appropriate legal counsel as soon as possible.

At the Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP firm, bringing justice to victims of negligence is of utmost importance. The firm has many years of experience handling the most complex medical malpractices cases. Consider contacting the law firm today for more information on how to build a strong wrongful death claim against the negligent hospital.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.