If my mother had a stroke that was caused by an defective artificial heart valve, does she had standing to sue?

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If my mother had a stroke that was caused by an defective artificial heart valve, does she had standing to sue?

The heart valve grew bacteria around it that caused the stroke. She is currently residing in a nursing home facility that does not offer any type of stroke rehabilitation. Is there anything that the family can do legally? Should we consult with a personal injury attorney? In Long Beach, CA.

Asked on May 27, 2011 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is probably worthwhile to consult with a personal injury attorney--specifically, one that does medical malpractice and/or medical product cases. Here are some general principalls to bear in mind, however:

1) The fact that there is a bad outcome does not mean there is liability. Medicine is still more of an art than a science, and sometimes patients have a problem when all the medical care was excellent. There must have been something done wrong for liabilty to attach.

2) For medical malpractice liability (e.g. against the surgeon or another doctor), there must have been neglience--an absence of the care normally expected of a doctor or other medical professional of that type. That can be in the diagnosis (did you mother need the valve? was this the right type of valve for her?) or in the surgury (was the valve implanted correctly) or in the follow-up care.

3) For liability against the device manufacturer--the maker of the valve--the valve must have been designed or manufactured incorrectly.


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