Denver, CO – People go to a doctor to be diagnosed and healed, but sometimes things can go wrong. Awfully wrong. When someone dies following a medical intervention gone wrong, the surviving relatives can file a medical malpractice suit. However, a wrongful death lawsuit based on medical malpractice is much more complicated than an accident suit. If someone is hit by a truck, there’s no doubt what killed him. On the other hand, when someone goes to the hospital for surgery and dies one month later, it’s not easy to prove that their death was caused by a medical error.
If you recently lost someone following a suspected case of medical malpractice, you must get in touch with an experienced Denver wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Technically, you have 2 years to file a claim, but you cannot afford to wait as in the meantime important evidence may go missing.
How is medical malpractice defined in Colorado?
Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a doctor or other medical professional who fails to competently perform his or her medical duties. You may have a medical malpractice case if a medical professional
- Misdiagnosed a patient / Failed to diagnose a condition
- Prescribed the wrong medication or wrong dosage of a medication,
- Committed a surgical error
For instance, if a woman goes to the doctor complaining of abdominal pains and the doctor puts it down as indigestion or menstrual cramps, but the patient has cancer, this may be a malpractice case. Had the doctor diagnosed the condition earlier, the patient could have received prompt treatment and this could have saved her life.
How can you sue a doctor or a hospital?
Under Colorado law, the family of the victim must obtain a “certificate of review” before they can sue someone for wrongful death. The idea behind this provision is to weed out frivolous lawsuits that don’t have legal grounds. This certificate of review serves as proof that you have serious grounds to accuse a doctor of malpractice, although you can bring more evidence later.
According to the law, after filing a wrongful death claim, your lawyers have 60 days to present a certificate of review stating that:
- They have consulted with a qualified expert who has reviewed the facts of the case, including the medical records
- The expert has the necessary education, training, knowledge, and experience to give an opinion about the case (the expert must be a doctor in the same field as the one you accuse of negligence)
- The expert has concluded that the lawsuit “does not lack substantial justification”, which basically means you have a case.
If there are more defendants in the case, each must be served with a certificate of review.
In a complex case, your lawyers may petition the judge to obtain an extension of the 60-day deadline.
The actual trial may begin after several months, which will give your lawyers more time to document the medical errors that led to the death of your loved one.
Are medical malpractice damages capped in Colorado?
Most states have caps on medical malpractice damages and Colorado is no exception. On top of that, Colorado also limits the damages you can seek in a wrongful death claim. The damages are adjusted for inflation every two years.
At present, non-economic damages in most wrongful death suits to $571,870, an amount that is adjusted every two years. Besides that, you can get economic damages related to funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support, and any outstanding medical bills paid by the estate of the deceased.
If you lost someone following a case of medical malpractice, talk to an experienced lawyer at the Bryan & Terrill law firm which offers help to bereaved families in the Denver area.
333 W. Hampden Ave., #420B
Englewood, CO 80110
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