A wrongful death can take place in a health care setting in a number of ways. Some of these may be the result of possible medical malpractice, such as a surgical error or an incorrect diagnosis. Other times, the cause of death may be unrelated to a doctor's conduct, but it could still be the responsibility of the health care facility.
A cause of death in a health care facility might take the form of a lack of physical security in a hospital room, or it could be a dangerous structural condition. Proving a wrongful death case requires establishing specific case elements, such as negligence, as well as showing that the deceased, had he or she survived, would have been able to have filed a lawsuit based on the same wrongful conduct.
Experienced medical malpractice attorneys know what these case elements are and what kinds of evidence to use to prove them. But once you have proven that a wrongful death took place, what happens next? How is your damages award arrived at?
Connecticut law divides wrongful death damages into two types: economic and non-economic. Another way to think of them would be direct and indirect damages.
Economic damages are based on the direct consequences of a wrongful death. These fall into two main categories: expenses connected to the medical care costs for the deceased, funeral expenses and lost wages. Another way to think of economic damages is that they are usually capable of being calculated with some certainty.
Non-economic damages are less capable of precise calculation because of their indirect nature. These damages are based on losses related to emotional pain and suffering and loss of ability to participate in life activities, including loss of consortium.
Two common functions of a medical malpractice attorney are to help the client to prevail in a wrongful death action and enable the client to secure the maximum damages award to which he or she may be entitled.
If you have questions about a possible legal matter involving the wrongful death of a loved one, consulting with an attorney is a practical step to take to get the answers you need.