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Proving medical malpractice in the wrongful death context

Just about all of us will require medical attention at one time or another. Fortunately, the Chicago area has some of the best hospitals in the country. With that in mind, Illinois residents may feel like their lives are in good hands, comfortable that they will receive effective treatment that will leave them better off than before they went to the hospital. Although this is true for many people, for some negligent medical professionals cause them serious harm that leads to death.

When the negligence of another party causes death, surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. But, what must be shown in a medical malpractice lawsuit in order to impose liability and recover compensation? First, the deceased individual's family must show that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care. Most commonly this will exist in the form of the doctor-patient relationship. Second, the surviving family has to establish what standard of care applies to the situation, and they must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the negligent medical professional or institution deviated from that standard.

Third, a plaintiff must show that the deviation from the standard of care, which constitutes a breach of the medical professional's owed duty, is causally connected to the victim's death. Lastly, the surviving family must prove that the victim did suffer actual harm. It is also imperative that surviving families illustrate the extent of their losses by providing the court and jurors with evidence of income and medical expenses.

The emotional toll imposed by a wrongful death can be difficult to handle. At a time of grief, surviving families are often forced to confront the very real financial losses associated with the death. However, by taking the right approach, these families may be able to hold negligent parties liable and recover the compensation they deserve.

Source: FindLaw, "Proving Fault in Medical Malpractice Cases," accessed on April 16, 2016

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