Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Those who are confined to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are extremely vulnerable. While it would be nice to believe that these individuals are given the care and treatment that they need and deserve, this is not always so.

Unfortunately, South Carolina nursing home negligence and medical malpractice lawsuits are so commonplace as to barely raise an eyebrow these days. While such litigation cannot undo the harm that was done, sizable settlements and jury verdicts can send a powerful message – a message that may result in better care for those in such facilities in the future.

Facts of the Case

South Carolina medical malpractice cases can arise in a number of contexts, including not only obvious mistakes, such as leaving an instrument inside a patient’s body or surgically removing the wrong organ, but also more complicated situations, such as a failure to make a timely diagnosis of lung cancer.

While the physician may not have caused the underlying medical condition (such as cancer), if it can be said that his or her failure to make a diagnosis in accordance with the applicable standard of care caused ultimate harm to a patient, there is a possibility that a medical malpractice claim may lie against the doctor.

Of course, each case is fact-specific, and there must be competent evidence from expert witnesses – other doctors – to explain to the jury exactly what should have happened, what went wrong, and how the error ultimately affected the patient. Without expert testimony, most medical malpractice cases fail regardless of how seriously the patient was injured (or even if he or she passed away due to the alleged mistake).

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Being successful in a wrongful death lawsuit arising from a motor vehicle accident requires that the plaintiff prove the basic elements of negligence (duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation). Unfortunately, however, not every legally sound case results in a fair amount of compensation for the victim’s family.

The second – and more practical – inquiry focuses on the actual payment of the damages award entered by the trial court. If the responsible party does not have adequate insurance (or personal assets) to cover the judgment, the plaintiff could be left with very little, if any, monetary compensation, even in a clear-cut case of liability.

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A stillbirth occurs when a baby dies after the 20th week of pregnancy. According to the March of Dimes, this tragic event happens in about one out of every 160 pregnancies in the United States. It can be caused by a number of factors, including birth defects, problems with the placenta, infections, umbilical cord issues, and chronic health conditions in the mother.

Sometimes, a stillbirth is not preventable. Other times, it may be possible to save the baby if appropriate measures are taken by the mother’s physicians and other medical personnel. A recent decision by the South Carolina Court of Appeals addressed a case in which a mother whose son was stillborn alleged that her doctors’ negligence caused her son’s death.

The Facts of the Case

In the case of Jamison v. Hilton, the plaintiff was a woman who delivered a stillborn infant via Caesarean section after the baby’s heart stopped beating at 32 weeks gestation. She sued two of her doctors and their obstetrical practice, claiming that her son’s death could have been prevented if they had complied with the applicable standard of care.

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In a perfect world, the evidence in a lawsuit would be so obviously convincing in favor of one party or the other that a jury would be able to reach a quick and unanimous verdict. In the real world, however, a case in which the evidence is so clearly in one party’s favor usually gets settled out of court.

As for the rest, the question sometimes arises as to what a judge should do after the jury has said they are deadlocked. In the landmark case of Allen v. United States, 164 U.S. 492 (1896), the nation’s highest court approved, at least for the federal courts, a jury instruction advising jurors to listen to one another with a disposition towards being convinced of each other’s arguments.

Recently, the South Carolina Court of Appeals was called upon to consider whether an Allen charge was acceptable in a particular South Carolina state court case.

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A lawsuit against the Town of Cottageville involving the shooting death of a former mayor is scheduled to be begin in federal court on August 11. According to reports, the children of the former mayor of Cottageville initially filed the suit in 2012 against the town, the police department and a former police officer in response to the mayor’s shooting death by the officer, then with the Cottageville Police Department, in May 2011.

The suit alleges that the officer shot the former mayor in the chest during a confrontation and subsequent struggle, and it claims negligence on the part of the town and department in hiring the officer in 2008. The officer, who reportedly no longer works for the CPD, is accused of targeting the former mayor, behavior that ultimately led to the shooting.

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Residents of assisted living facilities are generally allowed to come and go as they please. They may be asked to sign in and out so that staff members are aware of the residents’ whereabouts, but assisted living facilities typically offer residents more mobility than would a nursing home. However, depending on the circumstances of a particular case, negligence on the part of facility staff could still factor into why a resident suffered injuries.

In the wake of a fatal hit-and-run accident, the family members of a Gaffney woman are looking for answers as to why their loved one was taken from them. The 46-year-old woman was reportedly hit by a pickup truck as she walked on the road near the assisted living facility where she resided.

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