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What Is a Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Settlement?

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Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy, especially when it is caused by the wrongdoing of another. It can be confusing and painful to think about their passing, especially when it was linked to a medical failure.

If you have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, contact us at (205) 322-8880. Our experienced wrongful death medical malpractice attorneys are on hand to help your family obtain the justice they deserve.

What Is a Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Settlement?

A wrongful death medical malpractice settlement case is where a person has passed away due to some instance of medical malpractice. These types of cases are especially tragic because the victim was supposed to be receiving medical treatment to help them, but instead, it ended up harming them.

This page will address the differences between medical malpractice and wrongful death suits and how they can overlap in the same claim. These two legal concepts are complex, and typically require the assistance of experienced attorneys who understand the laws governing both types of cases.

At Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, we understand how deeply emotional and challenging wrongful death cases can be. It is our belief that seeking legal help can provide families with closure and help them move forward during such trying times.

Doctor shares bad news with an elderly woman wearing a pink shirt


How Are Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death Cases Linked?

A common question our attorneys get asked is, “What is the difference between medical malpractice and wrongful death?” To put it simply, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider or medical professional is negligent, and the patient is harmed or injured as a result. Wrongful death occurs when someone’s negligence or carelessness directly causes another person’s death

In certain cases, a medical malpractice incident may cause a person’s death, which would then result in a wrongful death lawsuit. However, not all wrongful death cases are caused by medical malpractice. In order to understand these concepts more fully, let’s take a look at each individually:

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a professional or health provider is negligent, causing harm to a patient. Doctors, nurses, surgeons, pharmacists, and even hospital staff can be held liable for medical malpractice.

This typically happens when they violate their duty to provide medical services according to the proper standard of care. Common examples of medical malpractice can include:

  • Surgical errors
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Delayed treatment
  • Medication and pharmaceutical errors
  • Use of recalled or defective medical devices
  • Birth injuries

These are just a few of the possible situations where medical malpractice can occur. The malpractice may occur at any point during a patient’s treatment, including intake, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.

What Is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is a broader legal concept and captures more scenarios than medical malpractice. It may be defined as the neglect, carelessness, or wrongful act that leads to another person’s death.

Thus, wrongful death can result from any personal injury situation besides medical malpractice, such as a car accident, truck accident, nursing home abuse, and product liability and premises liability incidents.

Medical malpractice is a common cause of wrongful death, as there are many situations where negligence and wrongdoing can occur during the phases of treatment.

What Do Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Damages Cover?

Alabama’s wrongful death statute is unique in that it only allows plaintiffs to recover punitive damages, rather than economic damages. Punitive damages are a monetary award intended to punish the negligent party and to deter future instances of such negligence. Economic damages usually cover other costs like medical costs.

Punitive damages awards can be substantial depending on the exact nature of the case. In a wrongful death medical malpractice setting, the punitive damages can be especially large, as the state of Alabama allows the jury to consider the wealth or financial standing of the wrongdoer when calculating the amount of the award.

The amount of damages obtained may also depend on the skill and competency of the lawyer handling the case. Therefore, it’s important to hire an attorney who has experience in both medical malpractice and wrongful death cases.

At Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, our attorneys have been representing families of injury and wrongful death victories since 1986 and understand what is needed to obtain the highest possible recovery amount. Contact us at (205) 322-8880 for assistance and representation with a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Else Do I Need to Know About a Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Settlement?

There are a few more points to consider when pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in Alabama:

Who Can File: Under Alabama wrongful death laws, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This is a person who is tasked with handling the victim’s assets and belongings after they pass away. The representative may be named in the deceased person’s last will and testament; in the event that they did not have a will, the court will name a representative. If the death involves a minor child, the parents of the child can file the claim.

Filing Deadlines: In most cases, Alabama wrongful death claims have a two-year statute of limitations. This means that the claim must be filed within two years after the victim’s death. After that time period, the claim usually cannot be pursued anymore.

Use of Expert Witnesses: In many medical malpractice wrongful death cases, it can be difficult to tell exactly how the death occurred. In such instances, an expert medical witness may be enlisted to help prove the defendant’s liability. Thus, you should be prepared to work with such a witness if it is needed for your case.

Lastly, certain medical establishments may seek to force a settlement or resolution through out-of-court conflict resolution methods like arbitration. The lawyers at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann have decades of experience specifically in arbitration, allowing us to obtain the best possible results for our clients.

Weary-looking medical professional sits in contemplation in a hallway


How Can You Hire a Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Lawyer?

Wrongful death medical malpractice claims are essentially medical malpractice claims that have caused the death of a patient. Because of the way these legal concepts overlap, such cases can be complex.

In our experience as trial attorneys, they are also emotionally intense and require the assistance of attorneys who are sensitive to the needs and requests of the victims’ families.

At Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, we understand how overwhelming this time can be for families who are grieving. Our aim is to shoulder as much of the burden for you so you can focus on your loved ones.

Get in touch with us today at (205) 322-8880 for a free, no-obligation consultation where you can speak directly with a wrongful death medical malpractice attorney. We will review your case and determine what your options and next steps are. Contacting us is the first step towards obtaining the recovery your family needs.

Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice FAQs

Can you sue a hospital for wrongful death?
Yes. Wrongful death can also be caused by the negligence of a hospital organization or system. For instance, the hospital may be maintaining or allowing standards of care that fall below normal standards for similar healthcare organizations. 

In such cases, it may be possible to sue the hospital directly if their actions have resulted in the death of a loved one. 

What is the average wrongful death medical malpractice settlement?
There is really no “average” or standard amount of damages in a wrongful death medical malpractice case. Courts consider various factors when calculating a wrongful death damages award.

Such factors can include the degree of harm to the victim, how negligent the health care provider was, and the healthcare provider’s financial standing. A skilled Alabama wrongful death attorney will be able to argue for the maximum amount of recovery under state laws.

How long does a wrongful death medical malpractice case take to complete?
This depends on each individual case. Depending on the circumstances, it can take anywhere from several months to more than a year for a wrongful death medical malpractice case to be completed. 

Since such cases involve both medical malpractice as well as wrongful death issues, they can sometimes take much longer to resolve, especially if an expert witness is needed. 

How can an attorney help?
Approaching a wrongful death medical malpractice settlement will be difficult without the assistance of an attorney. An experienced lawyer can perform tasks such as: 

  • Filing paperwork in a timely manner, so you don’t miss any deadlines
  • Gathering information, reports, medical records, and other documentation for trial
  • Crafting a strong legal strategy based on Alabama wrongful death laws
  • Providing advice on the distribution of the settlement amounts

A wrongful death situation can place tremendous strain on a family, both emotionally as well as financially. At Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann, we are passionate about providing the best possible legal representation for families and guiding them with empathy and compassion. Contact us at (205) 322-8880 to get started on your case. We put you first and aim for the best possible outcome for your family. 

Verdicts and Settlements

Our case results are the product of our many years of hard work and dedication to our clients. A few of our outstanding settlements include: 

$3.5 Million Verdict for a Wrongful Death Claim

Our attorneys obtained a verdict for the family of a patient who did not receive proper medical treatment in a timely manner. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the decedent’s estate and awarded $3.5 million.

$1.6 Million Verdict in a Product Defect Lawsuit

The injury attorneys at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann obtained a $1.6 million verdict for a man who was severely injured by a defective industrial saw. 

Facts About Our Firm

  • Firm founding: 1986
  • Nationwide representation:

    We have represented individuals in all 50 states

  • Recovered over $820 million on behalf of our clients

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