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Failure to Prevent Suicide

Reputable Virginia Law Firm Brings Suicide Liability Lawsuits Against Negligent Healthcare Professionals

Charlottesville lawyers advise on failure to prevent suicide litigation

After a tragic death by suicide, determining if legal liability exists requires the attention of a skilled and experienced attorney. The Virginia legal team of Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C. represents the surviving loved ones of suicide victims in cases where the failure of authorities or healthcare providers might have contributed to the fatality. From offices in Charlottesville, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Palmyra, we work to hold medical facilities, school districts and other entities liable for their failure to protect vulnerable individuals. When the negligence of a defendant contributed to the decedent’s ability or willingness to commit suicide, we seek damages to help the victim’s family cope with their loss.

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Focused attorneys demonstrate fault of professionals who breach duty of care

If a defendant named in a wrongful death lawsuit could have foreseen that the deceased person would kill themself, but failed to take any action to prevent a suicide, he or she may be liable for that failure. What is considered “reasonable action” depends on the state of the at-risk individual and the amount of information available to the person who has a duty of care. The standard of care varies for:

  • Patients not hospitalized — Appropriate preventative measures for a patient at low risk of suicide may include writing a prescription for anti-depressants and checking in with regular support. If the patient is considered to be at high risk of committing suicide, the medical professional responsible for treating the patient must admit him or her to the hospital. A health professional may also be required to inform the patient’s family or close friends about the risk that exists.
  • Hospitalized patients — Once a known suicidal patient is admitted to a hospital, the facility has a serious responsibility. The hospital’s basic preventative actions should include frequent welfare checks, removal of any items that may be used for self-harm and communication of the patient’s condition to all relevant staff members.
  • Students — Virginia law requires school districts to notify a student’s parent(s) if the student appears to be at imminent risk of committing suicide. A teacher, guidance counselor or any other person employed by a school board may be made aware of imminent risk as a result of direct communication from the student.

The immediate family members of a person who commits or attempts suicide in Virginia may seek compensatory damages from a person who assisted them as they committed or attempted suicide, such as by providing the physical means (e.g. a gun or pills) or participating in the suicidal act (e.g. administering a fatal dosage). 

Our personal injury attorneys advise bereaved families on the potential viability of lawsuits seeking relief from those responsible for failing to prevent a suicide.

Seasoned legal professionals encourage community members to seek help

Too often, we fail to pay enough attention to the signs that someone is suffering until after they are gone. Some indications that a person may be considering suicide include:

  • Communication about suicidal ideation through speech or writing
  • Threatening or committing acts of self-harm
  • Distancing from friends and family
  • Engaging in dangerous or reckless activities
  • Reporting a feeling of purposelessness or hopelessness
  • Substance abuse
  • Drastic mood changes
  • Past suicide attempts

There is no pain like losing a loved one to suicide. If you fear that someone you know is at risk of suicide, seek help from a trained professional and encourage the individual to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Contact caring Charlottesville suicide liability attorneys to schedule a free consultation

The Virginia wrongful death attorneys of Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C. represent plaintiffs in failure to prevent suicide lawsuits against medical facilities and schools. Our offices are in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Palmyra and Staunton. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers, call 434-973-7474 or contact us online.

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