Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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Wrongful death? Survival action? What’s the difference?

Whether it stems from medical malpractice or an auto accident, negligence can unfortunately result in death. In most personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff filing the lawsuit is the one that suffered some sort of physical injury. They are suing because they desire compensation for the injuries that they sustained and the costs associated with those injuries.

When the plaintiff dies, although they have sustained harm from another’s negligence, they are obviously not around to sue that party. A wrongful death claim allows those who were affected by that person’s death to sue the person responsible. However, there are two separate types of claims involving deaths: Wrongful Death Claim and Survival Action.

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malpracticelawsuitfailsI’ve previously written about my concerns of courts letting procedure prevail over substance in personal injury cases – usually in favor of the defendant. Last week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals handed down a case that underscores this problem in Bothun v. Martin LM, a medical malpractice lawsuit brought by the decedent’s surviving husband.

In 2008, a woman was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm that required surgery. Before undergoing the necessary surgery, decedent began a regimen of blood thinners and had stents inserted into her heart. In January 2009, decedent had surgery. During the procedure there was a 32-minute loss of blood to her kidneys due to renal ischemia and transient hypotension. The patient was discharged five days after the surgery and no further complications were reported. In fact, her husband reported that she looked healthy when they were leaving the hospital. All seemed well.

Less than 24 hours later an ambulance rushed the decedent to the hospital and she was pronounced dead following CPR and other emergency procedures. The attending nurses reported that the decedent’s condition changed in a matter of minutes while they were deciding on a course of action for her care.