Can I File a Medical Malpractice Case on Behalf of a Loved One?

All too often, people who go to hospitals for treatment never come out. In fact, medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Even if a medical error does not result in death, it can result in serious disability that can leave a person unable to file a lawsuit themselves. Or, a child may have fallen victim to malpractice. In any of these cases, a loved one may file a lawsuit on their behalf.

In the event of death, the closest surviving relative would file the lawsuit. Usually, it is the person who was dependent on the decedent’s — that is, the deceased person’s — income. That could be a spouse or child. The decedent’s parents may also file the suit. In the event of permanent disability, the same group of people would also file the lawsuit on their loved one’s behalf. If a child is injured due to medical error, their parents or guardians would file the lawsuit.

For cases in which a loved one dies due to medical malpractice, a court will usually decide who will be the decedent’s representative in court. If there was a power of attorney or an heir named in a trust or will, that person assumes responsibility of the estate and lawsuit (unless they are a minor). An experienced attorney can go into more detail about this kind of situation.