Hospital Accidents and Wrongful Death

February 14, 2019 in Uncategorized | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

Wrongful Death Attorney Charlottesville, VA

If your family member dies because the hospital they were staying at was negligent in some way, the person’s estate may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital and receive compensation on behalf of the deceased.

How do you determine who is liable or negligent in a hospital death?

There are two basic ways the hospital can be held liable for the death of a patient.

  • Employees of the hospital, i.e. doctors, nurses, technicians, and all other health care providers who are proven to be negligent
  • Negligence by the hospital overall because they hire and supervise employees, the upkeep of hospital equipment, and general oversight of the care given at their hospital

Independent Contractor Liability

Many doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are independent contractors and not employed by the hospital. If the death was caused by one of these professionals, the hospital is generally not liable for the negligence of these individuals.

The tricky part is determining whether or not someone is considered a contractor or employee of the hospital. Your attorney will need to examine the employment contract between the medical professional and the hospital to determine the amount of control the hospital keeps over the performance or job conditions of the doctors.

Generally, the more authority the hospital has over the duties and performance of a doctor who says they are an independent contractor, the more inclined the court may believe that the physician actually satisfies the requirements to be considered an employee.

What if the Physician is a Hospital Employee?

The main types of physician negligence are:

  • Errors in surgery
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Prescription or medication errors
  • Childbirth and pregnancy negligent acts

If a doctor who is employed at the hospital is found negligent and as a result of the negligence the patient died, it is the hospital that would be held liable for the wrongful death of the patient.

Can Nurses be Charged with Malpractice?

A nurse is responsible for providing a professional duty of care and can be charged with malpractice. The tasks performed by nurses are often critical to a patient’s care. Errors made by nurses that have ended up causing a wrongful death to their patient include:

  • Giving the patient the wrong type or amount of medication
  • Not properly monitoring a patient’s vital signs
  • Giving medication at the wrong time
  • Not recording the nurse’s activity on the patient’s chart
  • Not checking a patient for bed sores
  • Not reporting patient complaints or suspicious symptoms to the doctor on duty

Can the Hospital and the Negligent Doctor Both Be Sued?

Even if the hospital may be legally responsible for the negligence of the doctor and the wrongful death of the patient, should you sue both the doctor and the hospital?

This is a question to be discussed with your wrongful death attorney Charlottesville, VA relies on. If the doctor carries enough medical malpractice insurance, your lawyer may not feel it necessary to sue the hospital as well. If you sue both, you will be facing more than one team of defense attorneys and that may not work in your favor.

Contact MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and wrongful death involving hospital accidents.


Contact Our Virginia Lawyers

We serve clients throughout Virginia — from Charlottesville and Central Virginia to metropolitan Richmond; Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke; and the cities of Hampton Roads to the Northern Virginia cities of  Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington.

To speak with one of our attorneys, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

Our Virginia personal injury lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. have a statewide practice and offer free consultations at a time and location that is convenient for you.  We will gladly meet with you at your home or at the hospital, even on nights and weekends.


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