What is Wrongful Death Malpractice?

By Chris Dixon


Illness and injuries are a common part of life, but when medical personnel fails to treat a patient properly, and their negligence is responsible for a person’s death, the victim’s surviving family could be entitled to file a wrongful death malpractice claim against the negligent party and recover compensation for the victim’s untimely death.

Who is Eligible to Sue for Wrongful Death Malpractice?

In situations where medical personnel is negligent, and someone dies because of a lack of care, a wrongful death malpractice claim can be filed by the victim’s immediate family members to recover compensatory damages for the victim’s death. In most states, the family members that are eligible to file a wrongful death malpractice claim include:

  • Spouses or life partners
  • Children of the deceased
  • The victim’s parents
  • Grandparents of the deceased

A state’s wrongful death statute determines whether someone is eligible to file a wrongful death claim and states the requirements for eligible parties to file a claim. For example, in Colorado, there is a two year wrongful death statute, but during the first year after a victim’s death only the victim’s spouse is eligible to file a wrongful death claim, and a victim’s children can recover compensation with written consent from the deceased’s spouse. If there isn’t a spouse or heir available, then the deceased’s parents have the right to file a claim. During the second year after the victim’s death, both the victim’s heirs and spouse have a right to file a wrongful death malpractice lawsuit.

Colorado’s wrongful death statute is in contrast with the State of Missouri’s Wrongful Death Malpractice Statute that states that a victim’s spouse, children, parents, and grandparents have up to three years after a victim’s death to file a wrongful death claim. If no one from this category is available to file a claim, then a surviving sibling can file a suit. If there aren’t any surviving siblings, a personal representative of the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death malpractice claim.

Who Can You Sue for Wrongful Death Malpractice?

Wrongful death malpractice claims can be filed against medical personnel that are negligent and have caused or contributed to a patient’s death. In malpractice cases, there is typically only one party liable for a victim’s damages, but in some cases, there are multiple negligent parties. For example, if a nurse fails to monitor a patient, a doctor fails to diagnose a patient’s illness that becomes fatal, or a hospital doesn’t meet the medical Standard of Care and this causes a patient’s death, the victim’s immediate family can file a wrongful death malpractice claim to recover compensation for the victim’s death.

Wrongful Death Malpractice Damages Cap

If the surviving family members of a victim file a wrongful death malpractice claim, the settlement that they could be eligible to receive may be limited by the state’s damages cap for medical malpractice claims. Most states have some form of a cap in place for recoverable medical malpractice damages, whether it’s for total economic and non-economic damages, or simply non-economic damages, which is more common. The limit that each state has in place for wrongful death malpractice settlements varies significantly, and in some states, doesn’t allow for future expenses caused by a victim’s untimely death to be recovered.

For example, in Missouri, if a wrongful death malpractice claim is filed, the victim’s immediate family members could be eligible to recover up to $748,828 for fatal non-economic damages and full compensation for economic damages, while in Colorado, there is a one-million dollar damages cap (§ 13-64-202) on the total amount of economic and non-economic damages that are recoverable with a valid wrongful death malpractice claim.

Talk to a Lawyer Today About Your Case

If an immediate family member has been killed because of a medical professional’s negligence, and you are ready to recover compensation for your family’s harm and losses, it’s essential to speak with a lawyer immediately. An experienced lawyer can determine if you are eligible to file a claim, provide a realistic outcome for the damages you can recover, and help you file a compelling wrongful death malpractice claim to recover a settlement. If you are interested in filing a wrongful death malpractice claim and need a lawyer, contact the Dixon Injury Firm today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case with our Wrongful Death Malpractice Lawyers.

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