A number of lawyers handle suicide cases as wrongful death lawsuits due to the circumstances surrounding the cases. However, not many attorneys will handle the suicide case as a medical malpractice suit. When treating a suicide case as a medical malpractice one, issues like psychology of the patient need to be understood in order to discover the actual cause of the suicide death.
If suicide deaths are framed in a legal context, it can constitute a case for civil litigation. Not many lawyers focus on defending and handling suicide cases alone in court. Attorney Skip Simpson is on the board of the American Association of Suicidology. He also teaches forensic psychiatry at the medical school in San Antonio, which allows him to understand and deal liability in suicide cases.
Many suicide cases are often referred to as ‘impatient suicide cases.’ In these cases, the person or their family members admit to being admitted to a psychiatric facility as they are at an increased risk of committing suicide. These individuals or patients are either consulting a psychiatrist, or they regularly visit hospitals for their mental illness issues. If the hospital or psychiatric facility is not able to provide a safe and secure environment to the patient, if they are unable to protect the patient or if they do not monitor the patient closely, it may result in the patient killing himself. Such cases are typically handled as wrongful death or medical malpractice lawsuits.
In most of these cases, suicide by hanging is the most common option available to patients. However, they may try to use any other method that is easily accessible. In other cases, the patient may have tried to slit his wrists if he had access to sharp objects. Falling or jumping off a building may also be tried if the option is available to the patient. However, most hospitals and psychiatric facilities take precautions to ensure that none of these options is readily available.
Suicide cases that are pursued as medical malpractice lawsuits usually proceed like any other medical malpractice case in court. The attorney will consider several factors, particularly the standard of care followed at the facility. The attorney will see if a safe environment was given to the patient during the hospital or facility stay. If any violations of standard of care are seen, it can strengthen the medical malpractice claim.
How Common Are Suicide Cases?
Suicide cases are seen quite frequently. In fact, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. According to the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide, approximately 42,000 people die each year as a result of self-inflicted harm. Many of these suffer catastrophic injuries as they attempt to commit suicide but fail.
Families of these injured patients should contact a lawyer if they feel the facility was negligent in taking proper care of their loved one, resulting in a suicide attempt. These cases then go through civil litigation. Families of such victims go through a lot of emotional distress. They are also consumed with guilt, wondering what went wrong and what they could have done differently in order to prevent harm to their loved ones.
Family members are also consumed with the guilt that they put their loved one in a psychiatric facility which resulted in this mishap. However, they must understand that the responsibility lies on the psychiatric unit to prevent the suicide and keep a safe environment for the patients there.
In addition to pursuing your medical malpractice claim, a qualified and experienced attorney will help you find resources to work through the emotional challenges in your situation.
Whatever the case, contacting an experienced attorney in such cases is advised.