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Articles Tagged with wrongful death

law-OXGhu60NwxU-unsplash-1024x566The First District Appellate Court issued a recent decision addressing whether a pregnant woman, who is compelled to abort her fetus because of a possible injury to the fetus caused by a doctor’s negligence, can sue the doctor for the injury and death of her unborn child even though she elected to have the abortion.

The First District answered in the affirmative and ruled that the woman’s claims against the doctor for the wrongful death of the unborn fetus could proceed under Illinois’ Wrongful Death Act.

In Thomas v. Khoury, Monique Thomas was admitted to the hospital for elective surgery and during presurgical testing, her urine and blood samples displayed elevated levels of hCG, which is a potential indicator of pregnancy. An ultrasound failed to definitively show the pregnancy even though it was consistent with a pregnancy of fewer than four weeks. The surgeon told Thomas not to worry about the test results and that she was not pregnant. Thereafter, Thomas proceeded with the surgery under general anesthesia.

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Note: These numbers have been updated as of  May 12, 2020.

With elderly residents and close living quarters, nursing homes are extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. As the coronavirus crisis continues to develop in Illinois, numbers are emerging showing that nursing homes account for about 50% of the state’s COVID-19  deaths. That number is not surprising when you consider that 410 nursing homes in the state have been affected by the virus.  Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, recognized that nursing homes would be vulnerable back in a March 12 statement, during which she prioritized restricting visits to nursing homes as a method of limiting the spread of coronavirus.

Despite Illinois banning the majority of visitors at nursing homes, the latest infection reports are still showing coronavirus on the rise in senior facilities. Daily news reports and infection data highlight the widespread problem of COVID-19 infections in Illinois nursing homes. Recently released data from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows that over 14,882 cases of coronavirus and 2400 deaths are linked to nursing homes in the state and the numbers continue to grow.  Hardest hit has been Cook County, which has reported 1350 nursing home-related deaths and multiple nursing homes with serious outbreaks. At least four other Illinois counties–including Will, DuPage, Lake, and Kane– have reported 500 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in long-term assisted care facilities.

funeral-2511124_1280-300x200The loss of a loved one can cause great emotional and financial strain on a family member especially if the loss was caused by another person’s misconduct or negligent actions.  In these types of situations, a family member or next of kin has the ability to recover damages caused by the wrongful death of the deceased person.  Family members have two options to recover damages from the at-fault party.  A claim can be brought under either the Illinois Wrongful Death Act (740 ILCS 180) or the Illinois Survival Statute (755 ILCS 5/27-6).  The two statutes function differently with regard to what damages can be recovered and the mechanism for seeking recovery.

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act creates a cause of action for the deceased person’s next of kin.  The next of kin can sue the at-fault party seeking to recover damages they suffered and need in order to move forward with their lives.  A jury will award damages that they deem are fair and just based on the injury suffered.  Typically, damages for grief, sorrow, mental suffering, loss of companionship and society are sought by the next of kin.  Additionally, the next of kin can request damages in an amount equal to the deceased person’s contribution to the income of the household.

Conversely, the Illinois Survival Statute does not create a new cause of action but rather preserves for the representative of the decedent causes of action that existed prior to the death of the decedent.  Thus, in order to recover under the Illinois Survival Statute, an estate needs to be opened on behalf of the decedent.  The Illinois Survival Statute is typically used on behalf of a person who died before they could sue for their injury.  Examples of causes of action that survive under the statute include legal and medical malpractice claims, wrongful death actions, and claims for injury to personal property including actions for loss of consortium.  The decedent’s estate can recover the same compensatory damages that the decedent was entitled to recover.  A jury may provide damages to the estate for pain and suffering, loss of earnings, medical expenses, physical disability, and property damage.

If you are putting your infant to sleep in an inclined sleeper, you should stop using it and find an alternative.

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Photo courtesy of the Consumer Product Safety Commission

On April 12th, Fisher-Price recalled 4.7 million of their inclined Rock ‘N Play Sleepers and advised parents to stop using the product immediately. The American Academy of Pediatrics had previously urged the Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall the Fisher-Price Sleeper after a Consumer Reports investigation revealed that it was tied to 32 infant deaths.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for headache-1540220_1920.jpgPatients undergoing major surgery or those dealing with chronic pain are often prescribed opioid medications. These opioids have given rise to a crisis of massive proportions. Opioid addiction and overdose deaths are increasing dramatically. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all fatal opioid overdoses involve a prescription. Furthermore, for every one of these opioid overdose death, experts estimate nearly 130 people abuse or have a dependency on these drugs.

In Illinois, opioid use is rampant. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) data, there were 1,826 opioid-related deaths in the state in 2016. This represents an increase of over 70 percent from the number of opioid-related deaths reported in 2013 and a 32.1 percent increase over the 1,382 opioid-related deaths reported by IDPH in 2015.

Once people begin taking opioids, many of them become hooked on these highly addictive drugs. Often it is the result of patients obtaining prescriptions from “pill mills”, where doctors perfunctorily write opioid prescriptions without first examining the patient.

Here is the latest press coverage of a story about Karen Dobner, a strong, courageous and determined mom, who worked for seven years to help law enforcement take down the drug ring that sold her son, Max, the synthetic marijuana that ultimately caused his death. Karen was one of our clients, and our investigation in her case turned up a nationwide distribution network that now, thanks to the work of Karen, law enforcement, and Dave Savini at CBS 2, will be brought to justice instead of making and selling synthetic drugs to unsuspecting teens who may not know how dangerous they are. It’s not often you get to work on a case that can make an impact like this.

See the CBS 2 news coverage here:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2018/02/06/2-investigators-mom-gets-revenge-on-drug-ring/

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for medications-342462_1920.jpgThe Oklahoma Attorney General just charged Dr. Regan Nichols with second-degree murder in the deaths of 5 of her patients, for allegedly prescribing them too many painkillers and related drugs.

The specific allegations against Dr. Nichols are shocking. They include that she prescribed:

  • 3 million doses of controlled dangerous drugs from 2010 to 2014

Thumbnail image for headache-1540220_1920.jpgAmerica has a pain killer problem. And it’s killing us.

The just-released statistics are truly shocking: in 2015, while more than 52,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, two-thirds of those deaths were attributable to opioids like Percocet, OxyContin, heroin, and fentanyl.

We are losing tens of thousands of Americans a year to opioid overdose, which is more than die from gun homicides or car crashes. We are losing more Americans to overdose from “legal” than from illegal drugs.

Jennifer Flory of Illinois thought she was getting her daughter, Alison, the help she needed when she sent Alison to what had been advertised as a home for addiction treatment in South Florida. Sadly, however, Alison died from a drug overdose, smoking crack cocaine laced with an opiate. Jennifer learned in the most tragic way possible that she had been deceived into thinking that such places would help her daughter.

Perhaps predictably, the dramatic rise in opiate and other drug abuse has spawned an industry of so-called “drug treatment” centers and “sober homes”, often located in warm, sunny and inviting Florida. Many have aggressive recruiters, seemingly thorough and informative websites, and TV commercials. The idea is that the addict is sent to live in one of these facilities, where, caring loved ones are lead to believe, the addict is getting virtually round-the-clock attention and professional care.

But, while there are indeed proven and effective facilities in this industry, many are scams, set up to drain the insurance policies of terrified parents who will do anything to help their child through his drug problem. These unscrupulous places frequently offer very little support or structure-or even professional treatment-for the addict; some even allow the addict they are supposed to be treating to continue to abuse drugs.

The Illinois Supreme Court recently decided a case that directly affects the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a wrongful death suit after the death occurs. Prior to the case, the statute of limitations proscribed a two-year window for the filing of a lawsuit after a death caused by negligence. After the Supreme Court’s decision in Moon v. Rhode, plaintiffs now have two years after discovering that the death was wrongfully caused to file suit. This distinction could be the difference between having your case dismissed for being untimely and being able to successfully prosecute a claim for damages.

The Moon decision incorporates the discovery rule, a rule often used in personal injury cases. The rule states that the statute of limitations only begins to run once the injured party “discovers” their injury and the cause of that injury. A classic example would be cancer caused from exposure to chemicals in the workplace that are only discovered years after being exposed to the chemicals. Because the injured party did not “discover” the injury (cancer) until later in life, the two-year statute of limitations did not begin to run until this discovery. The same is now true for wrongful death cases. The statute of limitations does not begin to run until the plaintiff “knows or reasonably should have known” that the death was wrongfully caused. Typically, this will apply to medical malpractice cases where a layperson may not immediately understand that the death of a loved one was caused or contributed to by negligent medical care.

While this new holding will be extremely helpful to those plaintiffs who do not know that their loved one’s death was wrongfully caused, those who believe there was an issue of medical malpractice should not wait to talk to an attorney. The statute of limitations applies to those who should have known that the death was wrongfully caused and any time spent waiting could compromise your case. Hopefully, this new rule will benefit those families who have lost a loved one only to find out later that their death was wrongfully caused. Now, that discovery can be used to restore their family and hold those responsible for the death accountable.

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