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Can Your Family File a Lawsuit for a Misdiagnosis Death?

Losing a loved one is never easy.  If a parent, child, or spouse was dependent on substandard medical care that resulted in a misdiagnosis, the medical care provider could have been responsible for the death.  You may be wondering what your family’s legal options are for recovery after such a devastating event.

Family members of a person who died as a result of a misdiagnosis may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit for medical malpractice.  Wrongful death lawsuits compensate the beneficiaries of the deceased for their harms.  In order to succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit, you will have to show that the medical professional negligently or recklessly misdiagnosed your loved one and caused the death by doing so.  You should speak to an attorney about certain jurisdictional issues, such as who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and how long you have to file it.

The Baltimore wrongful death lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras know how difficult your loss can be on you and your family.  Our goal is to get you the recovery necessary to make your grieving process just a little more comfortable.  To speak with us about your case for free, schedule your first appointment with us by calling (410) 694-7291.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil suit filed on behalf of the deceased’s family members against the person or entity responsible for the death.  Wrongful death suits can recover compensation in line with the harms that the deceased’s family suffered as a result of their loss.  the method and time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit depends on the jurisdiction that you are in, so you should speak to one of our medical malpractice wrongful death attorneys if you have questions.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for a Misdiagnosis

In order to be successful in your family’s wrongful death lawsuit after a misdiagnosis, you will have to prove four key elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Duty of Care

You will have to show in court that the other party had a responsibility to the victim as their medical care provider.  This may be as straightforward as showing that the doctor agreed to provide care.  You must also show what the other party’s responsibility entailed.  This can be shown by introducing expert testimony.  Your expert witness can explain the standard of care, which is what other professionals in the same area with similar expertise would have done in that situation.

Breach of Duty

Once you show what the standard of care is, you will then need to explain how the defendant breached it through their actions (or failure to act).  In cases of misdiagnosis, an example of a breach of duty might be where the physician failed to acknowledge certain symptoms that would have led others to conduct certain tests that may have uncovered the underlying condition.


In wrongful death lawsuits for misdiagnosis, causation can be particularly difficult to prove.  This is because the defendant may argue that the misdiagnosis was not the cause of death.  In other words, they could say that the victim would have died regardless of a correct diagnosis.  However, a misdiagnosis, or even a correct diagnosis that comes too late, can cause necessary treatment to be delayed or the wrong treatment to be administered.  Either of these can have severe consequences on a person with a serious condition.  You should speak to one of our excellent medical malpractice wrongful death attorneys about your loved one’s medical treatment history and the nature of their condition to determine whether you have a valid case.


Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit returns damages to compensate the loved ones of the victim for their loss.  This could include lost income that the victim would have earned as well as the personal impact from the loss of companionship provided.  Some states may place limits on damage calculations for wrongful death suits from medical malpractice.  the only way to get an idea of what you stand to recover in a wrongful death lawsuit is to speak with an experienced Mount Airy medical malpractice wrongful death lawyer.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Misdiagnosis?

Every state has its own rules for who can be named as a beneficiary in a wrongful death lawsuit.  Typically, spouses, parents, and children are all eligible beneficiaries in wrongful death lawsuits.  As many eligible beneficiaries as exist may be named in the lawsuit without reducing recovery, and plaintiffs must make best efforts to identify and notify all eligible parties of the lawsuit before filing it.  If you were an extended family member or otherwise financially dependent on the deceased, you may still be able to recover, but the process may be more complicated.  Your Rockville medical malpractice wrongful death lawyer can help you assess the requirements.

How Long Does Your Family Have to File a Lawsuit for a Misdiagnosis Wrongful Death?

Like beneficiaries, each state has its own rule on the time limit for a wrongful death lawsuit.  This time limit is called the statute of limitations.  In Maryland, for example, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases runs for three years.

However, most states include exceptions to their statute of limitations for medical malpractice.  This is because the misdiagnosis that caused the death may not be discovered for years after the death itself.  For this reason, many states allow for the clock to start only once the malpractice is discovered (or reasonably should have been discovered).

If you feel that your family may have a wrongful death case after a misdiagnosis, it is imperative that you speak to a medical malpractice wrongful death attorney immediately to avoid missing the state deadline for your lawsuit.

We Can Help Your Family File Your Lawsuit After a Misdiagnosis Death

You should never go through the legal process of recovery for a wrongful death alone.  the Towson medical malpractice wrongful death lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can help.  Call us for a free initial consultation on your options at (410) 694-7291.