In a medical malpractice case, the key factor is the standard of comparison. You compare the doctor in question with a physician with similar training. If a reasonably competent doctor would have provided the correct diagnosis, then the negligent doctor may be liable for medical malpractice damages. At Pracht Injury Lawyers, we’ll closely evaluate your situation to see if you have a viable case. Even in nonfatal instances, medical malpractice cases can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements.

Types of Medical Misdiagnoses

A misdiagnosis leading to death takes many different forms. Common examples of misdiagnoses include:

  • Failure to diagnose. The doctor misses the diagnosis entirely, such as negligently dismissing symptoms and not suggesting proper testing.
  • Wrong diagnosis. A health care provider diagnoses the patient with the incorrect condition, possibly due to misinterpreting lab results and leading to the wrong treatment.
  • Delayed diagnosis. A physician took too long to diagnose your loved one’s medical condition, worsening their prognosis and outcome.
  • Failure to identify other conditions. While the provider may have recognized one condition, they missed other related or unrelated conditions that contributed to poorer outcomes. 

Required Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

Under South Carolina law, a wrongful death claim must meet four main criteria. This includes instances of medical malpractice like a misdiagnosis. You won’t have a successful wrongful death case without proving all of the following four factors.

Owed a Duty of Care

The first step in filing a wrongful death lawsuit for medical malpractice is proving the physician owed their patient a reasonable duty of care. When your loved one visited the hospital or with their family doctor for their symptoms, this established a medical relationship. The doctor or hospital staff agreed to provide medical care. 

If your loved one mentioned a symptom to the receptionist in passing but didn’t see a doctor about it, the physician isn’t legally liable for missing this diagnosis. They did not yet owe the patient a duty of care. 

Breached the Duty of Care

Arguably the most important but also most difficult element to prove is that the physician breached their duty of care to the patient. They were either negligent in their actions or their failure to act—such as providing an incorrect or delayed diagnosis. If another reasonably competent doctor would have ordered other tests and correctly diagnosed the condition, then the negligent doctor may be liable in a medical malpractice wrongful death claim. 

Misdiagnosis can sometimes be more difficult to prove than other situations, like when a surgeon removes the wrong body part. At Pracht Injury Lawyers, one of our key strategies in cases like these is to enlist expert witnesses who provide medical insight into whether other doctors would have provided the correct diagnosis. 

Caused the Patient’s Death

A health care provider’s misdiagnosis may not necessarily cause the patient’s death. If the patient would have passed away even if they received the correct diagnosis, the argument for a wrongful death claim may be weak. For a successful claim, you must prove that the breach of duty of care is what was ultimately responsible for your loved one’s death.  

The statute of limitations for South Carolina wrongful death claims is three years. It might sound like a long time, but initiating the process as early as possible preserves valuable evidence. 

Created Significant Damages

While winning a wrongful death lawsuit can help provide your family with closure and a sense of justice, the outcome of a case is financial in nature. A claim is meant to compensate beneficiaries for damages caused by wrongful death. The decedent and their estate suffered economic and non-economic losses as a result of medical malpractice and untimely death.  

Recoverable damages may include lost wages, loss of future earnings, medical bills, and funeral and burial expenses. It may also include loss of consortium, emotional trauma, and punitive damages. 

How a SC Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help Your Case

Wrongful death cases involving medical malpractice can be remarkably complex, especially when the defendants may have large insurance companies in their corners. The matter is further complicated in misdiagnosis cases, as they can be more challenging to prove.  

The skilled legal team at Pracht Injury Lawyers will advise and guide you throughout this process, accessing key resources to strengthen your claim. We may request an autopsy, get expert testimony, and gather other critical evidence to support misdiagnosis. When the time comes, we’ll also alleviate the burden of dealing with insurers by handling all negotiations and fighting for the fair and full settlement your family deserves.

Christopher Pracht
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Christopher Pracht is an experienced attorney at Pracht Injury Lawyers.