Wrongful Death Attorney in Charleston, SC
People place their trust in the hands of the doctors and staff that care for them when they are at their weakest. Sometimes doctors and their staff do not meet guidelines put in place to protect patients from mistakes. Mistakes can occur in diagnosis, anesthesia, or providing the correct dosage of medication. Every year, thousands of patients across the country suffer wrongful deaths.
Proving a malpractice wrongful death claim is hard and expensive to prove. It requires skill, effort and resources. But deserving victims can obtain relief. Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. has experience in pursuing medical malpractice wrongful death cases across South Carolina.
If your loved one has died because of medical malpractice, you have the legal right to hold the doctor accountable. To learn how the Charleston medical malpractice wrongful death firm of Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. can help you, call us today at 843-300-7600 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation. We have offices in Charleston and we represent clients throughout South Carolina.
Medical Malpractice that Leads to Wrongful Death
Medical malpractice can take many forms that can lead to the unnecessary death of a patient. Sometimes, the death can be sudden and in other situations, it can take time and it may be difficult to even identify that it was the resulted of medical malpractice. The following are some examples of medical malpractice that often lead to a wrongful death lawsuit:
One of the primary reasons that you go to the doctor or the emergency department is because you have noticed symptoms and you would like a diagnosis. Doctors should perform the necessary diagnostic tests based on your symptoms and should be able to correctly diagnose any conditions or illnesses you may have so you can receive any treatment you need. When a doctor fails to correctly diagnose certain conditions, it can have life-threatening consequences.
Some types of misdiagnoses that can have fatal consequences include the following:
- Cancer – An early diagnosis of cancer is critical, as the more a diagnosis is delayed, the more invasive the treatment may be or the cancer may become untreatable and terminal. If a doctor fails to recognize the symptoms of a possible cancer and misdiagnoses a patient with another condition, the cancer can go untreated until it is too late and can cause wrongful death. For example, ovarian cancer can often be misdiagnosed as celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or other digestive disorders.
- Heart attack – A heart attack is often a sign of serious cardiovascular issues that may require surgery or other immediate treatments to prevent further cardiac events. Heart attacks are often misdiagnosed as acid reflux or similar conditions, especially if the patient does not have obvious cardiac risks. However, even younger people who seem to be in relatively good health may suffer from cardiac conditions, so it is important for doctors to properly test for heart attacks to prevent a subsequent attack that may be fatal.
- Pulmonary embolism – A pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clots travels in the bloodstream and enters a lung. Because a pulmonary embolism can cause respiratory and circulatory difficulties, some patients are misdiagnosed with anxiety attacks when they report higher heart rates and shortness of breath. Because a pulmonary embolism can be life-threatening, a misdiagnosis can be fatal.
- Stroke – Too often, patients who have had a stroke are told that they are having migraines. Migraines can have sensory symptoms – such as tingling in the limbs – and visual aura that can be similar to the after-effects of a minor stroke. Without taking steps to control blood pressure or other aspects of your health following a stroke, the chances of a more serious stroke and possible aneurysm are much higher.
Any surgical procedure – no matter how minor – has the potential to be fatal. Many different things can go wrong during a surgery so surgeons should always use the utmost of care during an operation. Unfortunately, some surgeons may make negligent mistakes or choices that put the patient’s life in danger. Some examples of surgical negligence can include:
- The wrong type or dose of anesthesia
- Operating while overly fatigued
- Operating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Not thoroughly reviewing a patient’s history and risk factors prior to surgery
- Having untrained surgeons or surgical staff
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Performing the wrong procedure on the wrong patient
- Having improperly sterilized surgical equipment
- Not removing all foreign objects (such as sponges) from the patient
- Not providing adequate postoperative care, causing infections
Doctors write millions of prescriptions each year and hospitals administer a significant number of pills to patients on a daily basis. If a doctor does not sufficiently ask about drug allergies or identify possible harmful interactions with existing prescriptions, patients can suffer serious injuries from their medication. In addition, because hospitals have so many different medications for so many different patients, it is all too easy for mistakes to be made if a hospital employee makes a mistake. Patients can be deprived of necessary medication or may even overdose from accidentally being given multiple doses.
Having a child can be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. However, any medical mistakes that occur during pregnancy, labor, or delivery can cause serious and life-threatening injuries to the mother, baby, or both. Doctors can make many negligent errors that can lead to a fatal birth injury, including:
- Failing to identify risk factors in the mother or child
- Not ordering a c-section when necessary
- Not properly monitoring the vital signs of both mother and child during labor
- Not responding quickly enough to health issues or defects of the child
While doctors can make mistakes like anyone else, errors that lead to the unnecessary death of a patient are usually serious and the result of medical malpractice. If you have lost a loved one and believe it may have been due to some form of medical malpractice, you should not hesitate to discuss your rights with our wrongful death attorney today.
Who Can Recover in a South Carolina Wrongful Death Claim?
Survivors of wrongful death victims can pursue economic and non-economic losses. These money damages include loss of financial support, love, care, comfort, supervision, guidance, household assistance and general society. Survivors may also be compensated for their own personal grief and suffering.
The lawsuit is brought in the name of the personal representative of the victim’s estate.
The victim’s eligible next of kin may include:
- Spouses (widow or widower)
Wrongful death claims cover “pecuniary injuries.” These damages cover loss of companionship, mental anguish and potential financial contributions of the deceased.
Surviving children may recover damages for the loss of instruction, moral training and education they would have received had their parent lived.
In South Carolina, it is also possible to recover for the wrongful death of an unborn child if the fetus was viable at the time of the negligent act. The presumption of the parents’ loss and injury extends to a stillborn child.
In addition, South Carolina law allows next of kin to recover damages for the pain and suffering of their loved one from the time of injury until the time of death. In cases where death is instant, or when the decedent is rendered immediately unconscious or comatose, damages can’t be recovered.
How to Prove a South Carolina Wrongful Death Claim?
In all wrongful death cases, negligence must be proven. Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. knows how to help clients prove the four critical components of negligence that must exist in their claim:
- The defendant had a duty to the deceased,
- The defendant failed in that duty (breach of duty),
- The fatality was caused by the defendant’s breach of duty, and
- The survivors are entitled to damages as a result of the loss of their loved one.
In the case of medical malpractice, any mistake will not automatically constitute a breach of duty. The duty of care for a medical professional is that they act as another similarly trained medical professional would have under the same set of circumstances.
For example, if a cardiologist fails to diagnose a heart attack when another cardiologist likely would have, it may constitute a breach of duty. However, a podiatrist may not be found negligent if they failed to recognize symptoms of a cardiac condition when another podiatrist would have also overlooked it based on their specialized training and knowledge.
The amount of damages awarded will depend on the plaintiff’s relationship to the deceased. It will also depend on the specific losses suffered by the surviving family members. The value of a medical malpractice wrongful death case in South Carolina can vary widely and it is best to discuss your specific circumstances with an experienced attorney to get a better idea of what a claim may be worth.
Do Not Delay in Calling a SC Wrongful Death Attorney
Every state has its own “statute of limitations.” This is the maximum allowable time in which a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against a medical professional or hospital. In South Carolina, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is three years from the date of the death. After this time, a claim may be denied. It is for this reason that you should involve our law firm early in the process so we can protect your rights.
While you may think three years sounds like a long time, medical malpractice wrongful death claims are often very complex and can take a significant amount of time to prepare. It often involves the help of medical experts to review the circumstances of your loved one’s death and determine whether a medical professional breached their duty of care or not. For this reason, it is always important to call an attorney as soon as possible after you suspect that the death was wrongful.
Contact Our Charleston Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Firm Today
Hartman Law Firm, L.L.C. has recovered needed compensation for several Charleston families who lost a loved one due to medical negligence. We have seen firsthand how devastating an unexpected loss can be to your family, both financially and emotionally. We fight for justice for your family and to hold any negligent doctors accountable for their wrongful actions.
Proving negligence in a medical malpractice lawsuit takes an investment of time and resources. Hartman Law Firm will handle every aspect of your case so that you can focus on recovering emotionally from your tragic loss. If you feel a family member of yours was the victim of medical malpractice that resulted in their wrongful death, call us today at 843-300-7600 or use our online form. We help clients throughout Charleston and South Carolina. We can provide you with a free and confidential consultation about your case and advise you of your legal options.