According to a Centers for Disease Control Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in early May 2013, U.S. suicide rates have increased by 28.4 percent from 1999 to 2010 for individuals 35 to 64 years of age.
Anytime you lose a loved one to suicide, it’s tragic. Those left behind often ask themselves what caused their loved one to commit suicide and whether it could have been prevented. In some cases, a medical professional providing psychological assessment and counseling may have practiced negligently and contributed to the suicide.
In such cases, you may be within your rights to file a wrongful death claim within two years of the death or when you became aware that the medical professional’s negligence contributed to the death.
Malpractice and Suicide in Pennsylvania
Some of the circumstances that may indicate a mental health professional contributed to your loved one’s suicide include failure to assess risk of suicide, administering improper treatment that contributed to the suicide, or failing to account for the risk of suicide when administering treatment.
In some cases, a healthcare professional who prescribes a medication with suicide as a possible side effect, then that professional may be partially liable as well.
Call a lawyer as soon as possible to look over the mountain of medical evidence and any other information related to your potential wrongful death claim to decide if you have a claim that you should pursue.
Proving a medical malpractice suit based on an inaccurate psychological assessment or poor, negligent treatment requires evidence to demonstrate how the medical professional(s) failed to provide adequate care based on the standard of care expected of other professionals in a similar circumstance.
Establishing Liability in a Wrongful Death Case Related to Suicide
The patient’s medical records from healthcare professionals and/or mental health professionals can be important evidence in establishing negligence. In some cases, another mental health professional or healthcare professional might provide testimony regarding the defendant’s actions and whether they were in violation of an accepted standard of care.
Like other wrongful death cases, you must establish that the defendant:
- owed your loved one a duty of care;
- acted negligently (violated the standard of care); and
- acted negligently or contributed to your loved one’s suicide.
If you can successfully establish the a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other healthcare or mental health professional acted negligently and contributed to the suicide, the damages you recover might include:
- lost wages/benefits of the decedent;
- medical bills, including ambulance and hospital stays;
- funeral costs; and
- noneconomic damages related to the mental anguish and other damages surviving family members experience.
Ready to Talk
Suicide and wrongful death claims are not easy topics to discuss and bring with them various complications. But Cordisco & Saile LLC can help Newtown, PA families explore their legal options and evaluate whether they have a valid case. Call 215-642-2335 to set up a free consultation, or fill out our contact form to schedule your free appointment.