A duodenoscope is a lighted tube inserted in an individual’s mouth. It traverses down the patient’s digestive system to the top of their small intestine. The device is used during an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
The procedure assists in diagnosing and treating bile ducts and pancreas problems. It is used similarly to scopes that are used in colonoscopy examinations.
The Safe Medical Devices Act requires all healthcare facilities to report to manufacturers of the product any illnesses or harms caused by their devices. In August 2015, there was an outbreak of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, around the U.S. caused by a contaminated duodenoscope.
How Do Infections Occur When a Duodenoscope is Used?
The duodenoscope has many tiny parts. Fluid and tissue from an individual can remain on the device after being cleaned. This can cause what is known as a “patient-to-patient” infection.
Infections can be painful and may cause complications to existing medical treatments.
The infections may necessitate further medical procedures, therapies, or medication.
Can I Sue For a Duodenoscope Infection?
Depending on the circumstances, an individual who suffered a duodenoscope infection may bring specific kinds of lawsuits, such as:
- Defective product
- Medical malpractice
- Wrongful death
- Class action lawsuit
What Is a Defective Product Lawsuit?
A defective product is a product causing damage to an individual because of a design flaw, incorrect labeling, or flawed manufacturing.
When a defective product is placed on the market and harms individuals, the liability falls on the:
Establishing liability in each case will depend on the injury or medical condition. Evidence used during the lawsuit can include medical documents, past hospital records, eyewitness testimony, photographs, video footage, written declarations, and other items.
In cases where the court needs further information and investigation, they may involve an expert witness who can supply more facts about specific subjects. In a duodenoscope lawsuit, the expert witnesses can sometimes include physicians and doctors, product specialists, and others.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death action is a claim brought by a family member of a deceased victim against the individual who caused their death. While each state’s regulations differ concerning which persons can bring the lawsuit, it is usually an immediate family member (e.g., a spouse or parent) of the deceased who files the claim.
A wrongful death lawsuit can also be brought against companies, government agencies, or other organizations, not just individual defendants.
Since wrongful death actions are civil issues, the standard of proof for these claims is lower than in criminal cases. In other words, it is much more straightforward to win a wrongful death lawsuit than it is to get a conviction in a criminal case.
Wrongful death and criminal prosecutions, nevertheless, are not mutually exclusive actions. An individual may be sued for wrongful death in a civil law court and may be prosecuted in a criminal law court. A civil suit is usually filed after the criminal matter concludes if both situations happen.
What Are the Elements of a Claim for Wrongful Death?
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the survivors bring a claim on behalf of the victim that states that the victim’s death resulted from the defendant’s conduct.
To prevail on a claim for wrongful death, the survivors must demonstrate the following elements exist:
- That the defendant caused the victim’s death;
- That the defendant intentionally, recklessly, or negligently caused the victim’s death, or that the defendant was strictly liable for the victim’s death;
- Either beneficiaries or dependents survive the victim; and
- The victim’s death has affected any surviving beneficiaries or dependents in such a way as to cause financial damages to them.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
The immediate family members of the individual who died (i.e., the “decedent”) are allowed to sue for wrongful death. Although it hinges on a state’s regulations, this generally only includes the deceased victim’s spouses, children, and parents.
In general, the following individuals are those who usually bring wrongful death lawsuits:
- Surviving spouses;
- Children of the decedent;
- Dependent parents (i.e., the parent who lived with the deceased and depended upon the decedent for most or all monetary support);
- Personal representatives or designated heirs;
- Domestic partners (note that the domestic partnership must be registered with the state where the partners live and now extends to all types of couples, not just same-sex couples);
- Putative spouses (i.e., a surviving spouse whose marriage to the deceased was not proper, but a court could find that the spouse had a good faith belief that their marriage was, in fact, proper); and
- Minors (aside from their biological or adoptive children) lived with the deceased and depended on them for monetary support.
What Actions May Lead to a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Numerous scenarios may lead to a person becoming liable for another individual’s death.
Particularly, in a claim for wrongful death, the individual’s behavior will usually comport with one of the following actions:
- An intentional act, such as felony murder or other criminal behaviors;
- A negligent act, like a surgery that would have been prosperous had it been appropriately performed (e.g., medical malpractice)
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death?
Family members that sue an individual based on wrongful death can typically recover damages for the following:
- Medical costs and expenses for funeral arrangements;
- Loss of earnings;
- Loss of inheritance due to the untimely death of the decedent;
- Loss of benefits;
- Loss of care, safety, and friendship to survivors;
- Pain and suffering caused to the survivors; and
- Less common, punitive damages where the defendant’s conduct was intentional, malicious
How Are Damages Evaluated in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
It can be challenging to resolve how much the decedent would have earned if they had not died. Each state has adopted its own unique life expectancy table to simplify this process.
These tables have been designed to determine:
- How long the victim would have lived if not for the incident;
- How many more years the victim would have continued to work; and
- How long the victim would have survived during their retirement (if applicable).
The life expectancy table, coupled with the victim’s earnings at their death, allows a court or jury to estimate both the victim’s loss of earnings and potential retirement benefits.
How Do I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Each state has a specific “statute of limitations,” which refers to the time frame that a person is allowed to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If surviving individuals delay past the allotted period, they will be forbidden from bringing a wrongful death lawsuit in court.
The clock for the statute of limitations usually starts when the victim dies and continues for typically at least a year.
If you are looking to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one, you should consult a local lawyer to learn more about when you must bring a claim for wrongful death in your area.
When Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal option for a family member of a deceased victim of a duodenoscope infection. The family member filing the lawsuit must be a close relative such as a parent, sibling, spouse, or deceased’s kid.
The lawsuit can be filed against a company, individual, or government.
Should I Hire an Attorney for Help with a Duodenoscope Lawsuit?
Like other types of medical claims, duodenoscope lawsuits can be difficult. You may need to hire an attorney in your area if you need help with your case. To understand more about your rights regarding a duodenoscope infection, contact a local personal injury attorney.