When a loved one tragically dies due to the negligence or misconduct of a hospital, you can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

This course of action not only provides an opportunity to seek justice but also serves to hold the hospital accountable for its actions. 

Wrongful death cases are complex and involve a detailed analysis of medical records and documents. Consulting medical and legal experts specializing in wrongful deaths can help with your claims.

While the average range for wrongful death cases falls between $500,000 and $1 million, these figures cannot be considered standards.

Let's discuss wrongful death lawsuits and how much you can sue a hospital for. Read on!

Legal Disclaimer: This article is only informational and not legal advice. Please seek the guidance of a lawyer to address any issues or problems. This article's contents, including any links, should not be understood as creating an attorney-client relationship. The author's views also do not reflect those of the firm or any specific attorney.


Highlights of the Article

  • When hospital negligence leads to the death of a family member, you can sue them for economic and non-economic damages
  • The surviving family can bring suit against the people who work in the hospital and the hospital itself.
  • Some states place caps or limits on damages, impacting the amount you can file.
  • California's maximum award for wrongful death due to medical malpractice is $500,000.
  • Most states limit compensation for non-economic damages in medical malpractice and hospital death claims.
  • In most states, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years

Can You Sue A Hospital For Wrongful Death?


​​Wrongful death is a legal term where another party's negligent, reckless, intentional, or wrongful actions cause a person's death. Surviving family members can pursue a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages and losses resulting from the death.

Yes. When hospital negligence leads to the death of a family member, you can sue them for economic and non-economic damages. 

A family of a 70-year-old woman who died due to an incorrect heart procedure was awarded a $31 million wrongful death verdict. The verdict against Montefiore Medical Center was one of the largest of 2018 in New York.

Medical errors are so prevalent that they are reported as the third leading cause of death in the US. Furthermore, it was estimated that 40,000 to 80,000 deaths occur annually due to misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis is one of the leading causes of wrongful death lawsuits in US hospitals. 

The surviving family members can bring suit against the people who work in the hospital and the hospital itself. Also, depending on what state you live in, the law may allow the following people to sue a hospital for wrongful death: 

  • Parents 
  • Children 
  • Siblings 
  • Spouse

Factors Affecting Wrongful Death Lawsuit Compensation

Determining the exact cost of living without a family member can be challenging. Filing a case against the hospital for wrongful death claims includes estimating the financial impact of losing a family member.

It may include some or all of the following factors:

State Where the Injury Happened

Each state has laws regarding wrongful death claims. Some states place caps or limits on particular types of damages that can impact the amount you can file. 

In California, wrongful death caused by medical malpractice is limited to $500,000, while New York is one of the states that doesn't limit the amount of damages that can be recovered. 

💡Did You Know? 

Different jurisdictions have varying legal standards and guidelines for determining liability and awarding damages in wrongful death cases. It's important to understand the specific laws and regulations of the jurisdiction where the case is being pursued.

Medical Bills

Medical bills are the medical expenses that cover the care before the victim's death. It includes hospitalization costs, surgery fees, rehabilitation costs, and other related medical treatments. 

Loss of Income

Loss of income refers to the financial support the deceased person would have provided if they had survived.

Pain and Suffering

The purpose of these damages is to compensate the deceased person for their physical and emotional suffering before death. It includes the pain endured and the anguish or mental suffering.

Loss of Household Care

The loss of household care makes up for the value of the services and help the deceased provided within the household. It includes housekeeping, childcare, home maintenance, and other tasks a deceased person performs. 

Funeral and Burial Costs

Funeral and burial costs relate to the victim's funeral arrangements, including embalming, a burial plot, a casket or urn, cremation, transportation, a hearse, and a grave marker.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium is the omission of the benefits and companionship the surviving partner would have received from the deceased. It can include loss of intimacy, emotional support, companionship, and an impact on marital or domestic relationships. 

Loss of Parental Guidance

It covers the guidance, nurturing, support, and education a victim would provide for their children. The amount awarded will depend on factors like the age of the children and the parent-child relationship. 

How to Sue a Hospital for a Wrongful Death?

If a family member or loved one dies due to negligence, you're entitled to personal injury compensation. 

To increase your chances of success in a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital and its medical practitioners, follow these steps:

How to Sue a Hospital for a Wrongful Death

1. Hire the Right Lawyer

Find a medical malpractice/wrongful death attorney. You need an experienced lawyer who specializes in similar cases. The following are some roles that an experienced attorney will have: 

  • In-depth knowledge of relevant statutes and precedents 
  • Familiarity with wrongful death laws and legal procedures for suing a hospital
  • Ability to provide sound advice on the best course of action 
  • Expedite case development 
  • Increase chances of securing compensation for damages

By seeking out a knowledgeable lawyer, you ensure you have an advocate who understands the complexities of your situation and can effectively navigate the legal process on your behalf.

Their expertise and experience will be invaluable in building a solid case and pursuing a successful outcome.

Find reputable lawyers that can help you in your case by checking reviews and lawyers' profiles on popular lawyer review sites like 

  • Avvo
  • Martindale
  • Lawyers.com
  • Findlaw
  • LegalMatch


The cost of hiring a medical lawyer varies depending on factors such as the complexity of the case and years of experience. On average, they earn an average of $155,748 yearly

2. Open an Independent Investigation

If an official investigation has not been initiated or completed, your lawyer may recommend conducting an independent investigation to gather additional evidence. This investigation aims to uncover facts and clearly understand what led to wrongful death.

To determine whether the doctor handling your loved one's case met the required medical standard of care, your attorney can review medical records and consult an expert witness.

Pro Tip: 

Wrongful death cases are subject to statutes of limitations, which specify the time limit within which a lawsuit must be filed. These time limits vary by jurisdiction and type of claim, emphasizing the importance of timely action.

3. Determine the Potential Liable Party (Parties)

Wrongful death cases may involve multiple parties, such as individuals, corporations, healthcare professionals, or government entities, who could be held responsible for the death. Identifying all liable parties can be crucial for a successful lawsuit.

In the case of a hospital, potentially liable parties may include:

  • The hospital itself
  • Individual healthcare provider
  • Nurses
  • Technicians
  • Other personnel involved in the patient's care 

💡Did You Know? 

Many wrongful death cases are settled out of court, with parties agreeing on compensation instead of going through a full trial. Settlements can provide a faster resolution and avoid a trial's uncertainties and emotional toll.

4. Gather the Required Evidence and Documentation

Collect all relevant evidence and documentation to support your claim. Your lawyer will guide you through the process of collecting the evidence and documentation that your case needs. 

This document may include: 

  • Medical records 
  • Autopsy reports 
  • Witness statements 
  • Expert opinions 
  • Hospital administration records showing shortcomings (sanitation or maintenance)
  • Death certificate 
  • Pay stab and tax return of the victim 

Pro Tip: 

eDiscovery facilitates the submission of electronic evidence, enabling lawyers and their clients to access essential electronically stored information for legal proceedings. This powerful tool empowers you to uncover crucial insights to bolster your case and contribute to a more effective legal strategy.

5. Initiate Settlement Negotiations 

Before filing a lawsuit, your lawyer may attempt to negotiate a settlement with the hospital or its insurance company. Your attorney will prepare and send a demand letter after determining the value of your case.

The calculation of the value of your claim includes the following: 

  • Funeral expenses 
  • Medical bills 
  • Lost income 
  • Lost support 
  • Pain and suffering

The insurance provider will likely object and make a lowball settlement offer. Your lawyer will request the highest possible settlement amount based on the insurance coverage limit of the defendant.

6. File the Lawsuit

If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful or the hospital denies liability, your attorney will file a lawsuit on your behalf. It involves preparing and submitting all the necessary legal documents, including a complaint outlining the facts of the case and the legal basis for holding the hospital accountable. 

7. Litigation


Litigation is the formal process of resolving legal disputes through the court system, involving presenting a case before a judge or jury. Its objective is to seek a legal resolution and obtain a judgment that determines the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved.

The litigation phase involves various legal procedures, such as discovery, where both parties exchange information and evidence.

The discovery process will typically take a few weeks in wrongful death cases. Those involving multiple defendants and witnesses might need months of discovery.

Pre-trial and trial happened during the litigation stage. Attorneys may request mediation, a session presided over by a neutral mediator, to resolve the conflict during the legal process.

If no settlement is reached, the case goes to a full trial. After hearing both sides, the judge or jury renders a decision and decides on the financial award.

8. Recover Wrongful Death Damages

The court will award damages if your attorney successfully shows that the hospital is at fault. The amount awarded depends on the case and laws in your jurisdiction. 

The Bottom Line 

Settlement negotiations can lead to a resolution without going to trial.  The amount you can sue a hospital for wrongful death varies based on jurisdiction, case specifics, and damages incurred. 

Compensation typically covers medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of financial support, and pain and suffering.  You can consult a skilled lawyer to evaluate your case and navigate the legal process.