A Detroit family lost 46-year-old April Walters in 2016 after she passed away shortly after undergoing dental surgery to remove infected teeth. Despite facing a multitude of health issues such as sarcoidosis, COPD, diabetes, asthma, and high blood pressure, Walters had been medically cleared to proceed with the extraction of 18 teeth.
Amber Waddell, Walters' daughter, expressed bewilderment at how her mother could seem well upon leaving the dental office, only to pass away so abruptly. Walters' elevated heart rate of 130 beats per minute had already alarmed a medical assistant at the dental practice. However, the dentist chose to move forward with the procedure. Sixteen teeth were ultimately extracted before the dentist decided it would be prudent to stop and suggested that Walters seek immediate medical attention for her heart rate.
As they were leaving the clinic, Walters began to experience severe breathing difficulties. Walters' sister who had accompanied her to the appointment hurried back to the dental office to ask for assistance, believing that her sister's oxygen tank was low. Although staff provided more oxygen, none were trained in administering CPR.
Upon arriving back at the practice, the dentist admonished the family for not taking Walters to the hospital. An ambulance was eventually called, but sadly, it was too late to save Walters.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Loved One Dies As a Result of a Dental Procedure in Florida
The loss of a loved one is an emotionally charged event, more so when it occurs under circumstances that should have been avoidable, such as during a routine dental procedure. In the state of Florida, specific legal avenues exist for families seeking justice for their loved ones. Below, we’ll talk about the steps involved in pursuing a wrongful death claim in Florida after a dental procedure goes horribly wrong.
Understanding Wrongful Death in Florida
In Florida, a wrongful death is defined as a fatality that occurs due to the negligence, default, or intentional act of another person or entity. It is vital to understand this definition when considering legal action.
Who Can File a Claim?
Typically, the deceased's estate or immediate family members can file a wrongful death claim. This usually includes spouses, children, and sometimes parents.
Preliminary Steps: Gathering Information
Secure Medical Records
One of the first steps to take is obtaining all the deceased's medical records related to the dental procedure. These documents can provide crucial evidence regarding what went wrong during the operation.
Consult Medical Experts
You and your Florida dental malpractice attorney will engage medical experts to review the records and establish a cause of death. This step is critical in proving negligence or malpractice, and it’s also required in Florida to bring a dental malpractice claim.
The Legal Process: From Consultation to Court
Seek Legal Counsel
Find a qualified attorney who handles in dental malpractice and wrongful death cases. Due to the complicated nature of these cases, hiring the right attorney is critical.
File the Claim
Your attorney will help you initiate the lawsuit by filing a complaint against the responsible parties, which could include the dentist, the dental practice, as well as any other medical staff involved.
Discovery and Negotiations
After the claim is filed, both parties will engage in a discovery process, gathering evidence and taking depositions. Often, a settlement may be negotiated at this stage.
If no settlement is reached, the case will proceed to trial. Here, both parties will present their evidence, and a judge or jury will render a verdict.
Financial Compensation: What Can You Expect?
Types of Damages
In a successful wrongful death claim, you might be entitled to various types of compensation, including but not limited to medical expenses, loss of income, funeral costs, and emotional suffering.
Wrongful death cases can be protracted, often taking months or even years to resolve. Patience and perseverance are essential.