Metro Verdicts Monthly’s graph this month is median settlements and verdicts in wrongful death claims in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The median wrongful death settlement in Maryland is $850,000. In Virginia and the District of Columbia, the medians are $675,000 and $750,000, respectively.
Previous blog posts have discussed motor vehicle accident and medical malpractice wrongful death case numbers.
For attorneys handling these cases, I used to think this kind of information falls under the category of “fascinating information but I have no idea what to do with it.” But I have found presenting adjusters with objective information sometimes helps the adjuster better appreciate the value of a case, particularly in truck collision cases where the adjusters are typically in other jurisdictions and do not fully appreciate the value of a certain case in your jurisdiction.
Wrongful Death Settlements and Verdicts
- 2020, Texas: $250,000 Settlement. A man died after a truck struck his vehicle. He was survived by his two minor children. Their mother sued the truck’s owner, alleging that their negligence resulted in the man’s death. This case settled for $250,000, which went to his two surviving children.
- 2020, Pennsylvania: $935,000 Settlement. A 14-month-old’s parents alleged that a pediatric facility mismanaged his care, which resulted in his death. Their son, who was born premature and ventilator dependent, was transferred to the facility to train his parents on proper ventilator care at home. A day into his stay, he suffered cyanosis during his bath. The staff could not find the oxygen tank key. As a result, he had no supplemental oxygen for 25 minutes. He was then put on life support. Three weeks later, the staff took him off it and he died from a severe brain injury. His parents alleged that the staff’s failure to protect their baby’s airway and failure to find the oxygen tank key resulted in his death. The facility contested the causation of the baby’s injuries and death. This case settled for $935,000.
- 2020, South Carolina: $600,000 Settlement. A 57-year-old man’s estate claimed that the hospital’s mismanagement of his fistula removal surgery caused his death. They alleged that the anesthetist and nurse anesthetist failed to identify in a timely fashion the man’s respiratory distress during a ligation exam that occurred post-surgery. The estate claimed that this delay caused the man to sustain a fatal brain injury. The hospital denied liability but agreed to a $600,000 settlement.
- 2020, Pennsylvania: $300,000 Settlement. A 43-year-old man suffered traumatic injuries after an ambulance struck his vehicle. After being brought to the hospital, the staff put him on life support. He never regained consciousness. Five days later, he was taken off life support and died shortly after. His estate alleged that the ambulance driver’s excessive speeding and inability to properly control the vehicle caused the man’s fatal injuries. This case settled for $300,000.
- 2020, California: $1,520,645 Verdict. A 73-year-old man’s estate alleged that the treating nurse’s negligent actions caused his death. The man initially underwent surgery for the treatment of a subdural hematoma. Following the procedure, he experienced swallowing difficulties. The nurse attempted to insert a feeding tube. However, the estate alleged that the nurse negligently inserted it into the man’s lungs, rather than his stomach. They claimed that this caused collapsed lungs that led to a fatal cardiac arrest episode. The estate also alleged that the hospital was vicariously liable. A jury awarded the estate a $1,520,645 verdict.
- 2020, South Carolina: $485,000 Settlement. An 80-year-old man’s estate alleged that the hospital’s mismanagement of his care resulted in his death. The man presented to the hospital, seeking treatment for a foot infection. The staff fitted him with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device and a pulse oximeter to monitor his heart rate, his breathing, and blood oxygen levels. Later that evening, he suffered cardiac arrest for 10 minutes as well as oxygen deprivation and an anoxic brain injury. The staff put him on life support. Three weeks later, they took him off life support and he died. His family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit that alleged that the staff improperly monitored and responded to the CPAP and pulse oximeter’s alarms. They claimed that this delayed treatment, allowing his injuries to become fatal. This case settled for $485,000.
- 2019, Maryland: $282,529 Verdict. A 56-year-old woman’s surviving family alleged that the physician’s failure to timely diagnose her breast cancer caused her death. The physician read her initial mammogram and ultrasound test results as benign. She was diagnosed with triple-negative cancer to her right breast a year later. The woman underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. She died three years later. Her estate alleged that the physician improperly interpreted her test results, causing a delayed diagnosis that allowed her breast cancer to metastasize. The Baltimore County jury awarded the woman a $282,529 Verdict.
- 2018, Maryland: $273,026 Verdict. A 56-year-old’s estate alleged that the nursing home mismanaged his care, which resulted in his death. During his dinner, he choked on his food. He sustained respiratory distress, which progressed into cardiac arrest. Three days later, the man died. His estate alleged that the treating doctor failed to recommend a soft-food diet, despite the man’s increased risk for choking. They also alleged the facility failed to properly monitor and supervise him during meals. The physician and facility denied liability. A Baltimore County jury awarded the estate a $48,026 verdict. His widow, individually, received $225,000 for her wrongful death claim.