Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States. As many as 440,000 Americans die each year due to mistakes by medical professionals.

These deaths can be devastating to the families left behind. Loved ones feel angry and helpless. Often, they must also struggle with bills and other difficult financial realities in the wake of their loss. 

Wrongful death claims can help families get the justice and resources they deserve. Here’s what you need to know about filing these claims and winning.  

When Are Wrongful Death Claims Appropriate?

A death is considered “wrongful” when it is caused by the negligence or willful intent of another party. Common examples of wrongful death situations include:

Families may file wrongful death claims against parties they believe to be directly or indirectly responsible for a loved one’s death. 

Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits. They can be filed independently or in tandem with criminal proceedings. 

The Purpose of the Claim

There are three common reasons why families file wrongful death claims:

  • To get justice for their lost loved one
  • To prevent other families from suffering the same fate
  • To ease the financial burden of their loss

Civil suits can force the individuals at fault to pay for their actions, even if a criminal case is impossible or unsuccessful. These suits can also force systems to change, protecting other people from the same mistakes or errors in the future. 

Claims can also help families recoup some of the costs they face after losing a loved one. These can include:

Who Can File One?

Wrongful death claims must necessarily be made by someone other than the victim. In most cases, claims are filed by the family of the deceased. This may include their: 

In most circumstances, the closest available next of kin or the estate executrix should file the claim. This will give the filer the strongest possible case. 

What You Need to Win a Claim

To win a wrongful death claim, families need to prove two things.

First, they need to show that their loved one died due to the intentional actions or negligence of someone else. Specifically, they need to show that the deceased was not in any way responsible for their own death. Depending on the circumstances, families may also need to show that the person being sued had a “responsibility to care.”

Second, the family must demonstrate that they have been directly and negatively impacted by the loss. This can include:

  • Mental and emotional impacts
  • Physical impacts
  • Financial impacts 

In each case, families will need to quantify the damages they have suffered. For example, they will need to calculate:

  • The benefits and wages they have lost as the result of their loved one’s death
  • The funeral and end-of-life costs incurred
  • New costs incurred as they pay for work or care the deceased formerly provided

Calculating mental and emotional impacts is more complicated. Families will need the assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney to understand how those figures are legally determined. 

Filing and Proving a Claim

A wrongful death lawyer can help a victim’s family file their suit in the appropriate court. To be successful, however, the family will need to be able to prove that their loved one died as a result of neglect or intentional action. 

In cases of medical malpractice, for instance, families might need to provide:

  • Their loved one’s medical records
  • Documentation of the accepted standard of care relevant to the loved one’s condition or case
  • Testimony from a doctor that the care provided did not align with the relevant standard of care 

The case will go before a judge and both the family and the individual being accused will have an opportunity to make their cases. The judge will then evaluate:

  • The evidence
  • Legal precedent
  • The specific circumstances involved

If the judge rules in favor of the family, the next step will be the evaluation of the damages being claimed. The judge will decide if the amount the family is asking for is reasonable in light of the circumstances. Judges may award families what they’ve asked for, more, or less, depending on their assessment of the case. 

Why a Wrongful Death Attorney Is Key to Winning Your Claim

Hiring good wrongful death attorneys is a critical step in filing and winning a claim. There are several main reasons for this. 

First, losing a loved one is a deeply traumatic event. Families are often seriously struggling. They may be barely able to manage day-to-day responsibilities, much less the intense and emotional work of filing, managing, and successfully proving their claim in court. 

Having attorneys handle the majority of your case gives you the time, space, and energy you need to focus on your life, family, and responsibilities to the deceased’s estate.

Second, a wrongful death attorney understands Oklahoma law in ways that a layperson does not. Your attorney will be able to:

  • Navigate the court system competently
  • Identify and comply with critical cutoff and filing dates
  • Calculate your damages in ways that comply with the law and legal precedents
  • Clearly articulate your case
  • Find and identify the best experts and witnesses to testify on your behalf, if necessary

Good attorneys can meaningfully convey your loss and the terrible circumstances surrounding it to the judge on the case. This is something that families often cannot do themselves in the midst of their grief. 

Third, a wrongful death lawyer knows what to watch out for. They understand the ways that providers, insurance companies, and other defendants typically try to get out of responsibility for cases like yours. Your lawyer can help you structure your case in a way that does not leave loopholes and keeps the guilty parties on the hook. 

Choosing the right attorney can make or break your case, and it is important that you hire a good attorney right from the start. If you attempt to sue on your own and the case fails, you will not get another chance. 

Schedule a Consultation Today

If your loved one suffered a wrongful death, the Barkett Law Firm can help. We specialize in wrongful death cases and can help you get the justice you deserve. 

Schedule a free consultation today to learn how our experts can help you. 

Surgical errors may be more common than you think. About one per 100,000 surgeries involve a doctor operating on the wrong body part. A whopping one per 7,600 surgeries ends with a doctor leaving behind a foreign object inside the patient’s body.

If you are the victim of a surgical error, it’s important to act fast in filing your claim.

The question is, what steps do you need to take to do so? What will you need to prove in order to build a winning case?

Let’s take a look at the seven steps you should take from the moment you leave the ER after a doctor commits a surgical error.

1. Request Copies of Your Medical Records

After the surgery is complete, request a copy of all relevant medical records. To be on the safe side, it’s recommended that you ask for any records of your interactions with the doctor in question or any records from the past two to three years.

Your medical records should include documentation of any consultations or appointments you received before the surgery as well as all records made of the surgery. You want to establish what your condition was before the surgery, what the doctor was supposed to treat, and what the results of the surgery were.

2. Hire a Surgical Error Lawyer

Time is of the essence when you’re filing a claim for surgical error. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the statute of limitations on a medical malpractice case is two years. That means that you have two years from the point of surgery or from the point you should reasonably have known about the resulting injuries.

To get the ball rolling as quickly as possible, you’re going to want to hire a surgical error lawyer right away. Medical malpractice cases are tricky and without a lawyer by your side, your chances of winning the suit are much lower.

3. Follow Up with Another Doctor

It is important that you follow up with another doctor, both to ensure your personal health and safety and to establish the extent of the damage. Following up with the doctor you are bringing a claim against is not an option as it creates an unavoidable conflict within your case. A new doctor, however, can establish physical evidence of the surgical error.

4. Ask for Witness Statements

Were there other doctors in the operating room when this surgical error occurred? What about nurses or students in training? 

The odds that your doctor was the only person in the room during surgery is quite low. If you were under any anesthesia, there would have been an anesthesiologist nearby, if not several nurses assisting with any medical equipment.

To strengthen your case, you’re going to need to talk to these individuals and ask them to submit witness statements. In addition to these witness statements, you may also be able to submit statements from family and friends. These apply only if the surgical error led to an alteration in behavior or clear signs of physical discomfort that friends and family noticed.

5. Establish the Doctor’s Negligence

Negligence is key to your claim and it is also one of the most difficult things to prove. Causes of negligence in surgery are often things like exhaustion, distraction, miscommunication, and technical malfunctions. 

Along these same lines, you have to prove that your doctor failed to meet the reasonable standard of care. What this means is that the surgical error in question would not have been committed had another doctor handled your case.

This is often where an expert witness comes into play, someone that your lawyer will bring into the case for you. An expert witness is usually someone who works in the same field as your doctor, which in this case relates to surgical procedures. It is the expert witness’s job to review the facts of your case and explain why your doctor acted negligently and failed to meet the standard of care.

6. Establish That All Injuries Were Not Foreseeable 

There are instances where a patient comes out of surgery with a new or worse injury or illness and don’t qualify to file for damages. Why is that?

There are what are considered foreseeable damages in the medical field. Chances are, the patient was made reasonably aware of them before agreeing to undergo the operation. Many procedures do come with possible side effects and these are considered foreseeable risks the patient was willing to take.

However, surgical errors such as leaving behind equipment, operating on the wrong body part, or performing the wrong operation, altogether, are not foreseeable risks. If you have experienced any of these, this step should not be difficult to manage.

7. Quantify the Damage

There are two reasons why quantifying the damage resulting from your doctor’s surgical error is important.

The first is that you want to show that there is enough damage to justify your claim. Something minor that involves a quick and easy recovery will oftentimes not hold in court. 

The second is that the more you can quantify the damage, the easier it is to set a number for compensation. In other words, quantifying the damage will allow your lawyer to fight for the money you deserve.

Find a Surgical Error Lawyer Near You

If you are the victim of a surgical error, don’t let this list overwhelm you. It may seem like a big mountain to climb, but that’s what your surgical error lawyer is for. They will know how to gather the proper information and put together a winning case.

If you’re looking for a surgical error lawyer in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, consider the Barkett Law Firm. We have years of experience and a proven track record when it comes to winning medical malpractice cases.

Contact us to begin a consultation on your case.

Car accidents in the US cost more than $380 million in medical costs each year.

If you’re in a car crash in Tulsa, how will you cover your medical bills?

Being in a car accident is a frightening time, leading to not only medical bills but also missed time from work and costly vehicle repairs. Understanding the legal system after your accident can be tough, so the best way to gain a fair settlement is with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney.

To help your lawyer put together your case and advocate on your behalf, they need to fully understand what happened in the accident. What evidence or documents do they need to see to help you?

Read on to learn the seven most important documents that you should show your lawyer after your accident.

1. Photographs

When you’re at the scene of the accident, taking photos and videos is essential to prove your side of the story.

Photos are also extremely powerful in court, especially if you can show evidence of personal injury or damage to your vehicle. It can be tough to think about with all the stress after an accident, but try to snap some photos of the scene and the condition of your car with your phone.

If you weren’t able, your auto insurance company likely has photos that their adjusters took to value the repair costs of the car, so reach out and ask for copies.

Photos help your lawyer better understand the situation and can be very useful as evidence in court.

2. Police Report

If you’ve been in a car accident in Tulsa, it’s highly likely that the police were called.

The police will issue a police report, which will include important data, including the date, time, and location of the crash, the names of drivers, passengers, and witnesses, and the make, model, and license plate numbers of the cars involved.

If you don’t already have a personal injury lawyer after your accident, consider hiring one to ensure you get the highest amount of compensation for your physical and emotional pain from the accident. If any citations or tickets were issued at the scene of the accident, show your lawyer copies of these as well.

3. Medical Records

You should always show medical records to your lawyer after the case so that they can understand the pain and injury faced by yourself and the passengers in your car.

Doctor and medical bills, even for minor injuries, can quickly run into the tens of thousands, leaving you out of pocket. Keep track of all your medical records from ER visits, specialist appointments, and even pharmacy costs.

Together, they paint a full picture of your pain and suffering, which can help your lawyer advocate for your case. If you don’t have copies of all of your records, let your lawyer know the name and details of your doctors, and they may be able to request copies on your behalf.

4. Witness Statements

Were there any witnesses to your accident? Eye witness testimonies are an unbiased account of the accident from people who happened to witness it as it happened.

Witness statements in a car accident case are useful because they generally don’t have any personal stake in the outcome of the case, so their opinion is likely to be an honest account of what happened.

Witnesses may be other drivers, pedestrians, workers who witnessed the accident out a window, or cyclists. If there were no witness statements taken at the time, you could ask local businesses at the scene of the accident to see if anyone saw it happen.

Witnesses can add objectivity and credibility to your case, so make sure to show witness statements to your personal injury attorney.

5. Evidence of Missed Work

Often, injuries from the accident mean lost wages from work. If you’ve been injured and are unwell, or if the damage to your car meant you’ve lost the ability to work, this is costing you money.

Bring your personal injury attorney evidence of missed work. This could be paystubs, bank statements, or a letter from your employer.

You may be entitled compensation for your lost income, so it’s helpful for your lawyer to know how much income you lost as a result of the accident.

6. Insurance Policy Documents

Show your lawyer copies of your auto insurance policy, and possibly health insurance. This helps them understand what is and isn’t covered by your policy.

Any expenses that aren’t covered by your policy may leave you out of pocket, so knowing what is and isn’t covered helps them build your case accurately.

In addition to the actual policy documents, you may also need to show proof of insurance payment as evidence that your policy was paid for and active at the time of the accident.

7. Vehicle Damage Estimates

If your vehicle was damaged or totaled in the accident, it’s likely been assessed by your auto insurance company. They should tell you which repairs need to be done, along with the costs.

Or, if the car is totaled, you should be notified as to the value of the vehicle.

Provide all vehicle damage estimates to your lawyer to help them with your case. Car repairs can be extremely expensive, especially for rare or older cars, so this can help your lawyer know the full financial amount that you’re entitled to.

Have You Been in a Car Crash in Tulsa? Contact Us for Expert Advice

Being in a car accident is a scary and confusing time, especially if you’re unsure how to navigate the complex legal system.

Don’t try to go it alone; let us advocate on your behalf. If you’ve been in a car crash in Tulsa, contact us today. We would love to learn more about your case and advise how we can help.

With the right lawyer by your side, you can get full compensation for your medical bills, missed time from work, pain and suffering, and vehicle damage.

The US coastguard reported that there were 4,145 recreational boating accidents from 2017-18.

Whilst the number decreased from the previous year, it’s still far too high and shows just how dangerous the water can be.

It may even be hard to imagine how most accidents even occur. When we think of the ocean, we often imagine a vast amount of open space with minimal hazards.

But, we often don’t consider other factors that contribute to boating accidents and sadly many fatalities, including, alcohol consumption.

If you’re ever involved in a boating accident it’s important to know exactly what to do. Similar to car crashes, it’s likely you’re adrenaline will be pumping through your veins, and you’ll be in a state of shock and panic.

In this article, we’re going to share with you our guide of the 7 things you must do immediately if you’re ever involved in a boating accident.

Read on for more information.

1. Assess the Situation and Look For Casualties

Before you do anything, you need to ensure you’re ok first. If you’re in the water then get to a safe place as fast as you can. You then need to stay calm and check yourself for any injuries.

If you realize you’re injured, then tell someone what you think the injury is and that you need help.

However, if you determine that you’re not injured then start assessing your surroundings.

Are there other people in danger? Is anyone seriously injured? Try and find out as quickly as possible and then act in a swift manner, whether it be to hand out lifejackets or treat wounds.

2. Notify the Coast Guard

Whether the accident is minor or severe, the coast guard should always be notified of an accident.

To contact the US Coast Guard, you need to use VHF-FM Channel 16 (156.8 MHz), dial 911. You then need to inform them of your position and whether you require emergency medical help.

If you’re unable to do this, send up an emergency flare to signal help. Flares are usually stored in life vests. If you have no flares, either use a whistle and/or find something reflective like a mirror to reflect sunlight and be more visible.

3. Get the Boat Out Of Danger

Once you have fully assessed the situation, identified any casualties, and notified the Coast Guard, you need to get the boat to a safe position.

Although, ensure you only attempt this if nobody is in the water and once everybody is accounted for.

By getting the boat to a safer place, you reduce the likelihood of a further accident.

4. Stay at the Scene

Whilst important to make sure everyone and the boat are out of any more imminent danger, you need to stay there until the Coast Guard arrives.

If you attempt to get to shore, the Coast Guard will find it harder to locate you. This could be catastrophic if you or somebody else has serious medical injuries.

It may seem like a good idea to head back, or that it’s taking too long for the Coast Guard to find you, but they are experts with multiple resources at hand.

Once they locate and reach you, they will take charge of the situation. This is beneficial to you, as your decision-making skills will be hindered due to the shock.

5. Start To Collect Information

Once the Coast Guard has taken control of the situation and taken you to safety, it’s important to start collecting as much information as you can.

Start with the contact names and numbers of all those who were involved in the accident. If you were on a hired boat or on a trip, get all the contact information of the boating operators.

Ensure all the contact details are correct. If somebody has given you their cell phone number, then try calling it to make sure it’s the right.

Next, you’ll need to get the identification or registration numbers of all the vessels involved.

After that, get the insurance policy numbers, plus company names, of everyone who was involved in the accident. If anyone has gone to the hospital, try and establish their name and how you can contact them if you can.

Try and identify any eyewitnesses who may have seen what happened. Most of the time, when people witness an accident, they will stick around in order to give out their contact details for future reference.

Finally, enquire if anyone has anyone has video footage of what happened. If it was close to the shore or in a harbor, there’s a chance it could have been captured on film.

Don’t feel bad about asking and requesting copies.

6. Report It

There are several instances where reporting a boating accident is federal law.

This can include if somebody was killed and/or disappeared in the accident. Also, if anyone required medical help other than first aid and if total damage to vessel or property was $2,000 or more.

7. Seek Professional Help

In all circumstances, it’s worth seeking the advice of a personal injury lawyer to determine whether you’re entitled to any compensation.

Be advised to hold off agreeing to any settlements from insurance companies before consulting an expert.

What To Do If You Have a Boating Accident?

We hope this article about what to do if you have a boating accident has been useful and can prepare you for such an event.

Finally, if you have suffered a personal injury, then contact us for a free consultation.