This is the story of the tragic death of a 49-year-old husband and father of two. The names have been changed. The story is true.
On December 29th I received a call from Daniel, an extremely distraught father. My staff told me he wanted to sue a hospital for the wrongful death of John, his 49- year-old son. I always take the call of a parent of a dead child. My job is to listen patiently and, without judgment, hear the full story.
I learned from John’s crying father that John was a retired paramedic who taught high school fire science and emergency medical care. He was extremely popular with this students and an active community volunteer.
On 9/7 John went to a hospital emergency department with shortness of breath, fever, and body aches. He tested positive for Covid. The hospital was not able to admit him and he was sent home.. His condition worsened. On 9/10 he returned and was admitted. On 9/16 John died.
Daniel cried as he explained that John had put his trust in the medical community but it had failed him and his wife of 20 years and their two children. Daniel was adamant that early and aggressive treatment should have been provided, including antivirals, antibiotics, corticosteroids, supplemental oxygen and/or breathing treatment, and monoclonal antibodies. Instead, his son was sent home. In Daniel view John died because the doctors and the hospital were second rate and incompetent. They had to be held accountable.
Daniel admitted he had spoken with several lawyers and told me they had refused to take John’s case because of the $250,000 cap on general damages. That did not ring true. John could have been expected to work another 21 years, making $70,000 a year. Total lost wages would be $1,470,000, in addition to $250,000 for general damages for the loss of love, care and comfort suffered by John’s family as a result of his death. The total damages would be $1,720,000, not $250,000. Nobody had told Daniel the reason they had declined taking his malpractice case.
It was time for me to ask: “When was John vaccinated?”
He wasn’t. And Daniel had just had his first shot 30 days ago.
It was hard to believe that no lawyer had told Daniel that the malpractice claim was nonsense. Both father and son had rejected medical science. It was ridiculous for Daniel to believe he had a chance to hold “medical community” responsible for not immediately admitting John to the hospital on 9/7.
What a terrible price to pay for ignorant and arrogant decisions by John and Daniel. They decided that they knew better than the doctors of the Center for Disease Control and the Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease who have been advocating for vaccinations since January 2021.
My heart was filled with grief for Daniel. What a terrible burden for this father to take to his grave. John not being vaccinated will plague Daniel for the rest of his life.
I recommended that Daniel give up talking to lawyers. If he wanted an informed decision, he could hire a board-certified specialist in infectious disease or pulmonology to evaluate John’s hospital records and decide if care had been instituted three days earlier whether John would be alive today. The answer would be “no.” Daniel’s grandchildren would be better off with the money spent on a medical evaluation.
John should have received his first vaccination in January 2021 and a second within a month. He must have been teaching remotely. Cannot imagine a school district allowing an unvaccinated employee in daily close contact with children.
No infectious disease specialist or pulmonologist was ever going to testify that the hospital’s triage protocol violated the standard of care by not immediately admitting an unvaccinated man. Daniel needed to hear that. His anger was focused on medical care that could have saved his son, but neither he nor his son had acted responsibly to fight a deadly virus, despite overwhelming medical advice dominating the media.
And no jury was going to blame doctors and nurses for the Covid death of an unvaccinated man during an epidemic.
And what of Daniel waiting until November to get his first vaccination? His doing so was an admission that he and his son should have done this long ago. How painful for him.
It would have been easier not to have taken a very stressful call, but this man needed help.
My goal is to provide five-star help to everyone who has suffered a serious injury, or in this case a death, and take the time to evaluate if and how I can help. I take my work seriously. After all, I am a personal injury lawyer and nothing is more personal than the death of a child.
It takes time and patience to listen, analyze the facts and explain what I believe the future holds and to do so honestly and gently, with care and respect. That’s what I do. This father was trying to navigate his decision-making through a fog of grief and he needed honest answers. I hope that I have helped him.
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