If your loved one dies due to the negligence of another person who had a duty to provide them care — such as a doctor or nurse — you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, this is a very complicated type of personal injury lawsuit as the victim of the negligence is no longer around to give testimony. As such, there are a lot of misconceptions around wrongful death lawsuits. Here are a few of them.
Misconception: Wrongful death lawsuits are just about pain and suffering.
Some people avoid filing wrongful death lawsuits because they assume they would only be suing for the pain and suffering their loved one's death has caused — and they think that sounds greedy or immoral in some way. But like any personal case, a wrongful death lawsuit must involve actual costs. You'll generally be suing for funeral costs, future lost wages of the deceased, time that you missed at work due to the death, and so forth. Yes, there will generally be an amount added to the case to compensate for your pain and suffering due to the loss of your loved one, but that will be an "aside," not the majority of the case.
Misconception: Filing a lawsuit will put the doctor out of business.
Unless the doctor has a history of negligence, you filing a lawsuit probably won't put them out of business. It will alert the medical board of their negligent actions so the medical board can watch them and make sure this behavior is not a pattern. But the doctor himself or herself is not typically responsible for coming up with the money you sue them for. Their insurance company is. Do not avoid filing a lawsuit because you otherwise like your doctor and are afraid to hurt them — it's important that wrongful death incidents are reported to ensure doctors adhere to standards.
Misconception: Filing a wrongful death lawsuit takes too long and is not worth it.
You probably are not looking forward to having to relive your loved one's death again and again as your case goes through court. But if you hire a good lawyer, he or she can handle most of the grunt work, simplifying the process on your end. Plus, many wrongful death lawsuits are settled out of court, between the plaintiff and the doctor's insurance company. As such, there probably won't be complex and lengthy hearings that you need to attend. In the end, most plaintiffs feel that filing their case was worth it, both in terms of the compensation they receive and the sense of satisfaction they get in knowing they did the right thing for future patients.