Can I Sue for Wrongful Death from Sepsis?

Wrongful death due to medical negligence affects countless grieving loved ones who are left behind to wonder if their family member’s death could have been prevented. When a healthcare provider’s negligence results in death, their family deserves justice.

Thankfully, Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice laws allow specific personal representatives to file medical malpractice lawsuits related to the death of their loved one because of sepsis or septic shock.


Understanding: What Is Sepsis?

Sepsis is an extreme, life-threatening bodily response to an existing infection that sets off a chain reaction that ravages the body. Infections leading to sepsis will typically manifest in the gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, skin, or lungs. If left untreated, sepsis will rapidly damage tissue, result in organ failure, and ultimately cause death.

Sepsis is one of the leading causes of disease-related death in the country. It is dangerous because it often attacks when people are in recovery from another illness and can arise from even minor infections. Sepsis hospitalizes more than one million people each year, many of whom die.

While not every sepsis case results from medical negligence, if a doctor or other medical provider unreasonably fails to diagnose and treat the infection, leading to death, the victim’s family has a right to seek fair compensation.


Legal Claims for Negligence Resulting in Sepsis Death

To file a wrongful death claim for medical negligence, you and your medical malpractice attorney must be able to demonstrate four things:

  • The doctor or medical provider owed the deceased a duty of care. In other words, they were responsible provide treatment to your loved one that was appropriate under the circumstances.
  • The doctor or medical professional failed to exercise the appropriate care. In short, you’ll need to prove that the doctor or some other responsible party made a mistake in failing to detect sepsis in time or by discharging the deceased patient from the medical facility too soon.
  • The loved one in question did die from sepsis.
  • The doctor or other healthcare provider’s mistake or negligence was the cause of your loved one’s death.

Of these elements, the second is the one that is most often disputed in a medical negligence case. To prove this point, a medical negligence attorney will likely consult expert witnesses to conduct a review of the actions of the doctor or healthcare professional and identify any mistakes they may have made in the treatment of your loved one.


First Steps in a Sepsis Wrongful Death Claim

Following the death of a loved one, you will likely be in shock and mourning the loss. However, you must do everything your power to protect the right of your family to seek compensation. In doing so, you may have the ability to file a wrongful death claim against the health care provider, doctor, or anyone else responsible for your loved one’s sepsis death.

Following their death, immediately take notes on everything you can remember about the deceased individual’s treatment.

Be sure to cover the following:

  • What were the events that occurred leading up to their death?
  • What can you remember about conversations with the doctor and other staff about your loved one’s condition?
  • Did you or your deceased loved one have any concerns that you brought to the doctor or the medical staff before the death from sepsis?

Next, you should immediately contact an experienced Pennsylvania medical malpractice lawyer to review the case. The attorney will obtain the medical records of your loved one and check them thoroughly to see if your case warrants a claim.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

FAQs About Sepsis Medical Malpractice

The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about medical malpractice lawsuits involving sepsis death:

Is sepsis caused by negligence?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 250,000 Americans die from sepsis each year. While sepsis is not always caused by medical malpractice, some cases result from negligence on the part of surgeons, doctors, and other medical professionals.  

Who can file wrongful death in PA?

In Pennsylvania, wrongful death cases may be brought by a personal representative of a deceased individual’s estate. The personal representative is usually named in the deceased’s will. If no will exists, a spouse or another family member may be eligible to bring a lawsuit.

What is the statute of limitations on wrongful death in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, a personal representative has up to two years after the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

How long do wrongful death cases take?

Some wrongful death lawsuits settle quickly (sometimes in just months), while others can take much longer (up to four years). It is essential to recognize that even if a wrongful death lawsuit does not go to trial, it could still take a significant amount of time to settle the case.

What should I do if I suspect medical malpractice in my loved one’s sepsis death?

If someone you loved died due to sepsis and you believe there may be medical malpractice involved, contact the Pennsylvania sepsis attorneys at The Thistle Law Firm today for a free consultation, either through our online form here or by calling 215-525-6824

The Thistle Law Firm is a family-owned practice that specializes in medical malpractice, negligence, and wrongful death cases involving sepsis. 


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