In January, Wisconsin's Senate passed a major medical malpractice reform bill that would permit a parent to recover for the loss of an adult child due to medical malpractice. Senate Bill 203 was advanced to the Assembly for a vote.
Justice for families
The Family Justice bill would not only enable parents to receive compensation for the loss of society and companionship of an adult child who dies as a result of medical malpractice, but it would also enable an adult child to recover for the loss of a parent caused by medical negligence.
Currently, neither a parent nor adult child can recover compensation in those circumstances. This means that if either a widow or a widower with no minor children dies as the result of medical malpractice, there is no one who can bring a claim for that malpractice.
The Family Justice bill has been slowly working its way through the legislature. The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended it for passage in September of 2009.
State Bar President Douglas W. Kammer wrote to Senate members that "Senate Bill 203 is about fairness and accountability. It will make the law more consistent as to who can recover and will ensure that a negligent health care provider can be held accountable when a family loses a loved one due to that provider's negligence."
More reform possible
In addition to the Family Justice bill, a second reform proposal is expected to soon receive a committee vote in the Senate. Senate Bill 127 would remove the current 180-day deadline for potential malpractice claims against state-run facilities and replace it with the three-year statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice at non-state facilities.
This would give patients grappling with often severe injuries due to medical negligence much more time to deal with their medical problems before deciding to move forward with legal action.
Critics of the current disparity in deadlines have long said few patients are aware that if they're harmed in a state-operated facility, they have a mere six months in which to file notice compared to the 36 months they have if injured in a private hospital or other health care facility.
How to protect yourself and your family
If you or a loved one has been injured due to medical malpractice, negligence or neglect, contact a medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate the details of your case and advise you of how best to proceed to protect your rights and interests.