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Hospital Wrongful Death Liability

Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against a Hospital?


There are a variety of ways a hospital could be held liable for a patient’s death.

  • The doctor(s) and/or nurse(s) showed negligence towards the patient.
  • The hospital did not properly hire and monitor their employees.
  • The hospital showed a lack of care with repairing equipment and supervising how medical care is done within the facility.

Independent Contractor Liability 

A hospital is not responsible for negligent actions done by a doctor since doctors are not employed under them. It is difficult to get an appropriate determination on whether a doctor or nurse is classified as an employee in a hospital. Their employment contracts must be reviewed to get an idea of how much control the hospital has over their work performance.

Generally, if it is shown that the hospital has a substantial amount of control over the doctor or nurse, then the courts might consider them as employees. It is essential to get an experienced wrongful death attorney to look into this case to give you helpful legal advice.

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Employee Negligence

There are various actions that a doctor may commit that could potentially result in a medical malpractice due to their negligent behavior. This includes:

  • Misdiagnosing the patient.
  • Incorrect medication or medication dosage.
  • Errors performed on a patient who is going through surgery.
  • Handling pregnancy or childbirth negligently.

If reckless acts were done by an employed doctor that resulted in the death of a patient, then the hospital will be held liable for the patient’s wrongful death.

Medical Malpractice

Nurses are required to provide patients with the utmost professional care so the patients know that they are in good hands. However, nurses have made mistakes when taking care of patients that have resulted in injury or death. This includes:

  • Giving the wrong medication or dosage amount.
  • Giving medication at the wrong time.
  • Failing to report any symptoms or complaints made by the patient to the doctor.
  • Failing to check the patient’s vital signs appropriately.
  • Not checking up on the patient to make sure that they are doing okay.

Hospital Negligence 

A hospital may also be negligent when it comes to a variety of things. This includes:

  • Not firing unlicensed or reckless employees.
  • Not properly verifying whether or not the healthcare providers are appropriately licensed, or
  • Understaffing.

Failure to provide safety rules also plays a big role in showing negligence. It is important for a hospital to have employees wash their hands, label and manage patient medication, and find ways to make sure that the patient does not endure serious falls. Overall, the main focus of a health care provider is to ensure that all patients are safe when entering the hospital.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out-of-pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out-of-pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Punitive Damages
The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5 percent of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Limitations for Damages in California 
For the most part, there is no real cap on compensatory damages following a personal injury claim. This means that courts are able to award any amount they feel is appropriate and reasonable.

However, the only exception is regarding medical malpractice cases. In these cases, the limit for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses is $250,000.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If your loved one was a victim of wrongful death due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or hospital, West Coast Trial Lawyers has experienced wrongful death attorneys that will get you the justice you deserve. Our attorneys will help you recover financial and emotional compensation for damages such as emotional distress, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm. No fees are paid until your case is settled. Reach out to our legal team 24/7 by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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