Wrongful Death

When a person dies because of something another person did, the victim’s family may choose to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. The death may be due to an accident, violence, medical malpractice, or another action.
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Wrongful death cases are complex lawsuits that require not only experience and knowledge, but also sympathy.

Here at Weitz & Luxenberg P.C., our wrongful death attorneys have a unique blend of training, professionalism, and compassion that we bring to bear on behalf of our clients, especially during vulnerable times.

For a free consultation and more information about your legal options, please contact us today.

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Our attorneys have a lot of experience working with families who have suffered greatly due to the loss of a loved one. We try our best to help the family receive any compensation they deserve when a loved one has died due to someone else’s negligence.

And we’re glad our clients know we’re working hard on their behalf. “I very much appreciated that everyone on my Weitz & Luxenberg team was on top of things at all times,” says one wrongful death client. “I also appreciated that they treated me with great respect.”

She adds, “They could not have been more accommodating, more sympathetic, more caring. Weitz and Luxenberg treated us like family.”

What Is a Wrongful Death?

The exact legal definition of “wrongful death” varies by state. Overall, the term refers to a death that occurs due to another person’s intentional or unintentional actions.

Wrongful death covers a broad spectrum of personal injury. This makes it a highly complex area of legal practice. 

“Strong cases don’t always prevail. There are no guarantees, which is why our clients depend on our legal knowledge and the strength of our team to fight for them,” says Allan Zelikovic, a Weitz & Luxenberg attorney who has handled hundreds of successful wrongful death cases.

How Wrongful Death Lawsuits Happen

Wrongful death lawsuits arise from a wide range of circumstances, including car accidents, physical violence, hospital error, and medical malpractice.

The numbers of deaths that potentially fall under the category of wrongful death, of whatever type — accidental, violent, or medical error — are startling. 

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control report that in 2015, accidental or unintentional injuries alone resulted in 146,571 deaths in the U.S.(1)

The FBI’s 2016 Crime in the United States report estimates there were 1,248,185 violent crimes in the U.S. The report also said, “The violent crime rate rose 3.4 percent compared with the 2015 rate….”(2)

And, according to a May 2016 Johns Hopkins study, the third leading cause of death in the U.S. is medical error, representing more than 250,000 deaths per year.(3)

Given these statistics, it is easy to understand that the scope and magnitude of wrongful death cases is extensive. 

Such cases are complicated and can be difficult to win. This complexity requires experienced, trained wrongful death attorneys, such as those on our team here at Weitz & Luxenberg. 

W&L Wins $16.4 Million Wrongful Death Case

Weitz & Luxenberg has been winning wrongful death cases for our clients for decades. As a nationally recognized law firm, we are dedicated to helping clients win. 

Wrongful death lawsuits can take years to come to a successful conclusion. One such case began in February 1993 and is known as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.”

The wrongful death verdict in the case resulted in a $16.4 million award for the families of victims of murder at an apartment building. 

These families sued for pain and suffering. Their claim was that the landlord was negligent because the building security was inadequate. That inadequate security resulted in the wrongful deaths.

In another case, a wrongful death client said, “If not for Weitz & Luxenberg, what’s left of my family would never have had the opportunity to see justice done. I really believe that.”

The Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process

Each state has its own laws and procedures governing wrongful death. In all states, however, three factors must be taken into consideration:

  • Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased?
  • How is a representative for the deceased appointed?
  • What kinds of damages are allowed in a wrongful death lawsuit?

The closest living family member of the deceased is eligible to file a wrongful death suit. This could be the parents, spouse, or children. They file the claim on behalf of the deceased, who is known as the “plaintiff.” 

Also, people who can prove they were dependent upon the plaintiff may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The person filing the wrongful death lawsuit is very often the executor of the victim’s will or administrator of the estate.

When there is a dispute regarding who should bring suit on behalf of the deceased, a special court is held. This probate court determines the person or persons with legal authority to file, control, and settle a lawsuit.

Even when there is agreement on who represents the deceased’s estate, a probate court still must make the official appointment.

Damages allowed in a wrongful death lawsuit depend on the state. They may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost income
  • Child support
  • Education expenses
  • Consortium (companionship, comfort and love for spouses)
  • Loss of parental guidance or nurturing (for children)
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses
  • Punitive damages

Some states place a cap on damages in wrongful death lawsuits.

Additionally, a statute of limitations (the maximum length of time after an event in which legal action may be taken) usually applies.

Because the scope of wrongful death cases is so broad, knowledge of your state’s laws governing wrongful death becomes vital to winning your lawsuit

When considering a wrongful death lawsuit, it is advisable to contact a qualified wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

Situations Classified as Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is a broad legal term covering a variety of malpractice and personal injury circumstances. These negligent circumstances can include:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Recalled or dangerous products
  • Assaults (even when death was unintentional)
  • Defective devices
  • Medical malpractice
  • Birth and delivery errors
  • Nursing home abuse or neglect
  • Recalled or contaminated food

Clearly, this is a very broad range of personal injury law. In many cases, these personal injury cases are also wrongful death medical malpractice cases.

Your best bet to navigating the legal waters is to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney.

Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death

Wrongful death lawsuits can also arise due to medical reasons: bad hospital, bad surgeon, or misdiagnosis. These types of cases involve neglect, carelessness, and wrongful acts that result in death.

Medical malpractice lawsuits occur when a health care provider is negligent in any of these areas:

  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose
  • Delayed treatment
  • Medication errors
  • Surgical errors
  • Injuries arising from birth/delivery
  • Nursing home abuse

These are just some of the more common areas; there are others.

Medical malpractice lawsuits can apply to hospitals and staff members; doctors, nurses and midwives; and pharmacists. 

Medical providers are accountable for their carelessness and inattentive or distracted actions. Their liability depends upon the specifics of any negligence.

We would feel privileged to assist you. For a free consultation and more information about your legal options, please contact us today.
(800) 476-6070

Weitz & Luxenberg Negotiates $1.975 Million Settlement

W&L has worked on more than 1,000 lawsuits dealing with substandard medical care and dangerous drugs or devices.

In one case, W&L negotiated a $1.975 million settlement for a client in an appendicitis death.

The W&L legal team settled the wrongful death lawsuit for the estate of a 51-year-old woman who died in 2005 from a ruptured appendix

The woman’s ruptured appendix was misdiagnosed twice, once as gastritis and again as carcinomatosis, a type of metastasized cancer. She was given pain medication but no treatment.

With her family’s agreement, our attorneys maintained that had she undergone a procedure to remove her appendix, she would have survived. The misdiagnosis meant that the opportunity to administer proper timely treatment was lost.

Allan Zelikovic, the W&L attorney in charge of the case, said, “The impressive settlement amount paid to the woman’s estate demonstrates the importance of injured parties selecting as their legal counsel a law firm with the right blend of size, strength, and compassionate caring.”

W&L Recovers $4.5 Million as Wrongful Death Attorneys

When the families of two single mothers in their 30s sued for wrongful death, W&L settled both cases successfully. 

In the first case, a single mother of a young daughter went to a hospital exhibiting signs of pancreatitis, but was discharged without getting a CT scan or a diagnosis. In another hospital, she was ignored for hours.

Her family settled for $2.35 million.

In a second case, a single mother of a young son underwent a tonsillectomy. When days later she could not swallow and her throat hurt, she went to the emergency room (ER). 

The ER determined that she was dehydrated. She was admitted and treated with antibiotics, intravenous (IV) fluids, and pain medications. The woman continued to complain of pain and difficulty swallowing. Then, 48 hours after being released from the hospital, she died because her surgical wound ruptured.

Her postoperative care was negligent, and her death was due to malpractice. The settlement reached was for $2.2 million.

Allan Zelikovic, head of the W&L malpractice team says, “In these cases, especially, the patient’s families deserve to be compensated for their loss.”

Surgeons Can Be Held Liable For Errors

Allan Zelikovic explains that when doctors make mistakes, “They end up using broken equipment, missing diagnoses, or making surgical errors.”

This is precisely what happened in the case of a woman in her 30s who went to a plastic surgeon for a $10,000 tummy tuck. Two days later she suffered a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs) and was taken to the ER. Five days later she died.

Hospitals regularly use a piece of medical equipment to prevent blood from pooling in the legs. This is done to prevent deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in a vein deep inside the body) and pulmonary embolism. And in this case, the doctor did use that piece of equipment.

However, when W&L attorneys requested to examine the piece of equipment in question, and to see its purchasing records, the machine and records had disappeared.

The surgeon admitted to an employee and a partner that he discarded the machine and purchase records after the patient’s death.

The surgeon feared criticism that the machine might not have been certified since it was used when he bought it on the Internet.

The family of the mother of two settled for $1.2 million due to her wrongful death.

W&L Gets $1.1 Million Settlement for Undisclosed Diagnosis Client

In another wrongful death case, the family sued on behalf of a 70-year-old man who died, due to the failure of his doctor to disclose that he had colon cancer. 

The man underwent a colonoscopy in 2007. Although a biopsy taken at the time was positive for colon cancer, the patient was told his results were normal.

For a free consultation and more information about your legal options, please contact us today.

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He finally learned of his diagnosis in March 2009 when he went to the ER complaining of pain and weight loss.

He died from complications of Stage IV colon cancer. The cancer had been in stage I when it was initially found. If he had been treated when the cancer was first detected, he might have had a better outcome and lived a longer life. 

The case was settled for $1.1 million for wrongful death.

His widow said, “…what I didn’t find out until later, was that the finding of cancer was in Albert’s chart the whole time – and even though the doctors who were at fault saw Albert several times after they put the finding of cancer in his chart, they still never told him, never ordered any treatment, never lifted a finger to help him.”

Diagnostic Errors Not Uncommon

A diagnostic error is defined as a missed, wrong, or delayed diagnosis. “There’s a lot more harm associated with diagnostic errors than we imagined,” says David E. Newman-Toker, M.D., Ph.D.(4)

Newman-Toker heads the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Center for Diagnostic Excellence and is a recognized world expert in diagnostic error research.

According to the Armstrong Center for Diagnostic Excellence, “These errors may account for 40,000 to 80,000 preventable deaths” per year.(5)

The center states that, “12 million Americans are affected each year….”(6)

If you are one of the millions of Americans affected by misdiagnosis or malpractice leading to wrongful death, let us help you fight back.

W&L Fights for You

One wrongful death client put it this way, “Mr. Zelikovic was an absolute point of strength for me. He certainly knew every inch of what was ahead. He had been doing this type of law for a very long time and he knew the players on the opposing side.”

Your case is unique and deserves the attention of a compassionate, experienced, and knowledgeable team of qualified wrongful death attorneys who would feel privileged to fight for the compensation you seek.

That is why you need Weitz & Luxenberg’s professional wrongful death legal team to fight for you.

Contact W&L for a free consultation and more information about your legal options. Please call us at (800) 476-6070 or complete our form. Our client relations representative will contact you shortly.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, May 3). National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2016, Table 19. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm
  2. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2017, September 25). 2016 Crime in the United States Report. Retrieved from https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2016-crime-statistics
  3. McMains, V. (2016, May 3). Johns Hopkins study suggests medical errors are third-leading cause of death in U.S. Retrieved from https://hub.jhu.edu/2016/05/03/medical-errors-third-leading-cause-of-death/
  4. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. News and Publications. (2013, April 23). Diagnostic Errors More Common, Costly and Harmful Than Treatment Mistakes. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/diagnostic_errors_more_common_costly_and_harmful_than_treatment_mistakes
  5. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. (n.d.). Center for Diagnostic Excellence. Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/armstrong_institute/centers/center_for_diagnostic_excellence/index.html
  6. Ibid.

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