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Wrongful Death Claim Permitted After Personal Injury Case Based on Same Conduct Resolved

babyMedical malpractice cases are extremely complex, and multiple causes of action may be appropriate in a single situation. The success of a claim depends heavily on having significant and concrete evidence to show a medical facility or doctor’s malpractice. This is why it is important to consult a capable Miami injury lawyer if you are considering a potential medical malpractice claim.

In Spangler v. Mcquitty, the parents of a boy, Dylan, filed a personal injury lawsuit against a physician who delivered the child on behalf of their son, contending that the son’s severe disabilities were a result of birth injuries caused by medical negligence.

While pregnant with Dylan, the mother’s doctor failed to obtain informed consent for the treatment that was administered to her, causing a placental abruption, which ultimately left the son with cerebral palsy and other long-term injuries. Cerebral palsy is a broad term for a variety of disorders that impair the motor functions and development of a child.

The jury found in favor of Dylan, and he was ultimately awarded approximately $5 million. Shortly afterward, Dylan died. His parents filed a separate cause of action, rooted in the same facts, against the defendant for wrongful death. In response to the new lawsuit, the defendants claimed that they had already been held accountable for their negligent conduct in the prior case and could not be put through trial again for the same conduct. The trial court agreed with the defendants. The parents appealed.

In the initial appellate ruling, the court reversed the lower court’s decision. Some time later, the entire court granted certiorari.

The court examined Maryland’s wrongful death statute and found that the language of the statute permitted an entirely new cause of action that was separate from a personal injury claim. This is because the statute allowed plaintiffs to seek new categories of damages due to the loss of a family member. Put another way, the medical malpractice lawsuit was brought on behalf of Dylan himself, whereas the plaintiffs in the wrongful death lawsuit were the parents. Admittedly, the damages that were awarded in the medical malpractice case could not be awarded again in the wrongful death case. However, the parents could seek damages for their own loss, which was not possible in Dylan’s personal injury case.

Just as in the Spangler case, Florida law allows plaintiffs to file a personal injury lawsuit and later file a wrongful death claim after a victim dies. The subsequent lawsuit allows surviving family members to pursue specific damages sustained by the victim’s family.

If you or a loved one has been harmed due to medical malpractice in the Miami area, it is important to contact a reputable medical malpractice attorney who can examine the facts of your case. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon we will work closely with you at every step of the way, and we understand that the circumstances often change in these types of cases. We proudly represent clients throughout South Florida. To learn more about your legal rights and options, do not hesitate to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online.

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Stages of a Florida Personal Injury Case, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, August 5, 2016

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Fireworks Injuries on the Fourth of July in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, August 5, 2016