Cooper & Elliott Blog

A Close-Knit Family and Wrongful Death, but a Positive Outcome

Posted on Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 9:27 PM

When most people think about the victim in a wrongful death case, they probably envision a person cut down in the prime of life. But people of all ages can be victimized by medical malpractice that prematurely ends their life. This is such a case.

A loving mother and grandmother

Mrs. Etta Cowan* was the family matriarch. She made quilts and afghans for her granddaughters. She loved to bake, and she was famous for a special dessert she would make only once a year. Etta took care of her husband and a grown son who lived at home and required assistance. Despite that, she and her husband were able to travel, and they made trips across the country to visit their other grown children and grandchildren. Etta was an influential force in the lives of her entire family.

One sad day, Etta suffered a serious heart attack. Once under hospital care, though, she started getting better. In fact, her prognosis was good. Then, without warning, this beautiful 70-year old wife, mother, and grandmother died.

The family Etta left behind needed to know why. Was it just something terrible that no one could have prevented, or was it a wrongful death? Was it medical malpractice?

A wrongful death?

In cases like these, the person’s age is certainly a factor. Sometimes, families—and attorneys—believe that an older person’s death is simply a matter of it being “time,” and they won’t look further into the case for that reason. But when our firm began looking into Mrs. Cowan’s case, we discovered that the hospital had made a medication error. As it turned out, medication that might have saved Mrs. Cowan had been withheld from her, resulting in Etta’s untimely death.

After a couple of depositions, the hospital recognized its liability in Mrs. Cowan’s wrongful death, and it agreed to a fair settlement—an amount that was very close to what we would have expected the Cowans to receive had we gone to trial.

A medical malpractice case with a positive outcome

The Cowans are an especially tight-knit family, and their closeness made their case very compelling to us. They lost Mrs. Cowan before they should have, and the loss rippled through the lives of everyone she touched.

The financial settlement for Mrs. Cowan’s wrongful death helped continue care for the Cowans’ son who couldn’t care for himself, and it helped make life for Mr. Cowan and the rest of the family as close as possible to normal.  Even more importantly, in the settlement the hospital acknowledged its responsibility for Etta’s untimely death.  Such an acknowledgment allowed Etta’s loved ones to move on with their lives, together as a family, even without their beloved matriarch.

*Names in this article have been changed to protect our client’s privacy. 

 The outcome of any client’s case will depend on the particular legal and factual circumstances of the case.

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