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Do I have a medical malpractice suit if my sisters death was caused by prescription pain pills.Or a wrongful death?

Orange Park, FL |

She was seeing a dr for about 2 yrs who started prescribing her percocet,morphine as well as vicoden.During this time she overdosed twice and was hospitalized for 5 mo due to her systems shutting down which also almost ended in her death.On November 6 this year she overdosed and didnt make it this time. I think this Dr was very negligent but do I have a case?

Attorney Answers 5


What you have is a potential wrongful death case based upon medical malpractice. The statute of limitations that applies is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice case is not the one for wrongful death cases. Medical malpractice prescreening requirements apply.

For there to be a case under either designation, you would have to show negligence, causation, and damages.

In this situation negligence means the failure to follow the standard of care. So if the doctor prescribed medications which were unreasonable for your sister given the circumstances that would be negligence. The fact that your sister died from those medications does not necessarily establish negligence.

Then, you would have to establish causation. That means that it was the doctors negligence and not your sister's acts which cause her death. So you would have to investigate why she overdosed. Was it intentional, or accidental? The answer to that question might impact the analysis of the first question as well.

Then there have to be damages to justify a lawsuit. For medical malpractice lawsuit ending in the wrongful death of the patient, damages are limited by statute. One can always recover for funeral bills and medical expenses. Usually these are not enough to justify the lawsuit. Medical expenses paid by an insurance company are also reimbursable. Any income your sister would have earned for the rest of her life minus what she would have spent for the rest of her life is recoverable. But this figure is often zero. If your sister left any minor children (which for this purpose means twenty-five years old or younger) those children could also have a claim for their losses. If your sister left a spouse, the spouse could also have a claim for the spouses losses. If you sister left neither minor children nor spouse there is nobody left to collect damages.

Then one has to look at the practicalities of lawsuit: What are the likely damages? How much will it cost to prosecute a case to get those damages? Is the targeted defendant able to pay those damages (your insurance or other assets)?

There are also other potential defendants to consider: pharmacies, the person who administered the drugs (if it was not your sister), and perhaps others.

This is a summary based on incomplete facts. You should not rely on it as legal advise. No attorney-client relationship is intended to be formed.

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The only way to know if you have a medical malpractice case is to have her medical records reviewed by an attorney. Another issue is whether you can bring the case as her sister. Unless you were a dependent of hers, you cannot bring such a case. You can thank the Florida Legislature for that. Still, there may be other family members who could bring the case. You need to speak with an attorney ASAP.

My answer to your question does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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Sorry to hear about your loss. You would have to get your sister’s medical records and have then reviewed by an attorney to determine if there was malpractice.

Good luck.

DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.

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I am sorry to hear about your loss. Contact a medical malpractice attorney in your area to discuss this issue. Contact our office if you require a referral or recommendation for an attorney.

You should retain an attorney to address this issue. The above answer is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. I have provided this answer only based on the information presented in the question. The specific actions or answers to this issue require additional information. The above information and answering this question does not constitute an attorney-client privilege. I am not responsible for any issues, problems or losses from any reliance on this answer and information, and the consequences of such reliance.

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2 lawyers agree


Talk to a local lawyer who handales these kinds of cases.

The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Howard Roitman, Esq. and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.

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