Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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The Legal Intelligencer reported last week on a change in one state’s wrongful death law that was prompted by a brain injury lawsuit. The case, Rettger v. UPMC Shadyside, involves the death of a 24-year old man who passed away after he suffered a brain herniation caused by a delayed diagnosis of his brain infection. It goes without saying that when an infection strikes any part of the body-particularly the brain-it is essential to receive treatment as soon as possible. Any delay, as this case shows, can have life threatening consequences.

Following the young man’s death, his parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit. These legal actions are brought by family members of victims who are killed by the negligence of others. They are unique legal actions in that they seek recovery for losses to the survivors themselves, caused by the loss of their family member. This must be distinguished from legal actions that seek to provide relief for the harm caused to the actual victim. Usually these wrongful death claims are brought in conjunction with a survivorship action (which is brought in the name of the victim). Wrongful death actions are most often brought by the spouse or children of the victim. In this case, however, the man who died because of the medical malpractice was unmarried and had no children. Therefore, the wrongful death suit was brought by the man’s parents.

The article explains that when a wrongful death action is bought by parents, the award is usually less than when children or spouse brings the suit. The damage amount depends on the connection of the victim to the deceased, the support that the deceased provided to the plaintiff, and similar factors. In this case, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the parents in the amount of $2.5 million. Following the decision, the defense appealed the verdict, claiming that it was owed a remittitur (a judge’s decrease of an award amount) because the jury verdict was excessive. The defense claimed that the victim has no children or spouse, and therefore it was unreasonable for the jury to have awarded the victim’s parents that much money for their losses.

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Our Illinois brain injury attorneys recently learned of a brain injury/wrongful death lawsuit that was filed by the mother of the victim of negligence that died while he was supposed to be receiving treatment at a drug rehabilitation center. The young man had been in the center for only two days when he died of hypoxic brain injury following what is believed to have been an over dosage of a medicine as well as an allergy to that same medication that he was being given at the rehabilitation center. The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that not only was he given medications that his body was not reacting well to and too much of that medicine, but that he was not monitored or paid attention to even after he was clearly reacting negatively to the medication.

Once the brain injury/wrongful death lawsuit was filed, family members of other patients from the facility also spoke out about all their problems with the drug rehabilitation center. Allegedly, other patients were also over-medicated and not monitored properly, and at least one of these other patients died as a result of this alleged negligence on the part of the rehab center. According to The Tennessean, the rehab center has just spent a great deal of money on expanding the rehab center and the center is the largest in the state. In addition to the claim that the patients are not medicated properly and are not monitored properly, many patients and their families feel that the center was severely understaffed, which could also add to the lack of monitoring patients issue. As a result of the issues that have been reported in connection with this facility, the state has at least temporarily stopped sending underage drug abusers to this particular facility for treatment. The fact that this kind of negligence may be occurring, and that patients may not actually be receiving the help they need, is very upsetting especially at a center that has the resources available to really be able to help their patients with their drug addictions.

The young man’s hypoxic brain injury may have resulted directly from the over-medication and from him not being monitored properly. A hypoxic brain injury occurs when the flow of oxygen to the brain is disrupted, and in this young man’s case that disruption was too severe and led to his death. If he was receiving too much medication, or the wrong medication for his body, a hypoxic brain injury could result. The rehab center claims that if the victim’s medical records were viewed that it would be clear that he was treated properly and that his death was not the result of the center’s negligence. However, the rehabilitation center will not release the victim’s medical records for what they claim is a confidentiality issue.

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Our Chicago personal injury attorneys, Steven Levin and Michael Bonamarte, recently helped the family of a victim of a wrongful death reach a $975,000 settlement after the victim fell off of a porch, where the railing was not up code, and then later died as a result of his personal injuries. The mother of the victim brought the wrongful death lawsuit against the management company of the building where the porch was located, alleging that because of the management company’s negligence the young man fell onto the concrete below (from two stories up) and then died as a result of his severe head and brain injuries. The tragic fall occurred in the summer of 2007, while the victim was hanging out on the porch at his girlfriend’s apartment in downtown Chicago, and the victim died as a result of his injuries in January of 2008.

The wrongful death lawsuit alleged that the management company for the girlfriend’s building failed to keep the premises in a reasonable and safe condition, and because of this failure, the victim fell from the porch. The lawsuit was filed in January of 2008, but the settlement was just this week approved for $975,000 for the family of the victim. The mother of the victim filed this lawsuit against the building managers with the hope of saving other families from having to go through the pain and the suffering that she has had to deal with as a result of her son’s untimely death. Building managers and landlords of all buildings have certain responsibilities and certain duties that are owed to the tenants, and to the tenant’s guests, and when this level of care is not met, the parties responsible must be held liable for the damage that results. When a building has a balcony and porch with a railing, that railing must be up to code and safe for people to stand near it, and it is the building managements or landlord’s duty to make sure that the railing is up to code and is safe to stand near. In this specific instance, the lawsuit alleged that the railing was ten inches shorter than the mandatory railing height requirement that is set out by the city of Chicago.

This case, like far too many other personal injury lawsuits, could easily have been avoided if the management company had not acted negligently in maintaining the building they were responsible for. Because of the company’s negligence, this young man died and his family has to deal with pain of losing their son when he was so young. If you or a loved one suffered a personal injury from a fall, or if someone you loved died as a result of a management company or landlord’s negligence, please do not hesitate to contact our Illinois personal injury lawyers today. Our attorneys have helped out clients all over Illinois, including this mother who lost her young son, and our attorneys are here to talk to you about your case and help to see what possible next steps you should take and what options are available to you and your family.

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The Madison-St. Clair Record reported last week on a medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed on behalf of a woman who died following questionable treatment by several doctors at two hospitals-St. Elizabeth’s Hospital of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and Belleville Family Medical Associates.

According to the details of the wrongful death lawsuit, the victim arrived at St. Francis in February of 2009 with severe neck pain. The victim had a history of diabetes and renal failure, but the doctor who saw her discharged her shortly after her arrival. Several days later the victim was back at the hospital after calling an ambulance with a string of problems including full body pain, abnormal vital signs, hyperventilation, and an inability to take fluids. She was also quickly discharged after this second visit.

The same day that she was discharged the woman visited her primary care physician at Belleville-however, she merely prescribed her pain medicine and sent her away. The next day the victim had received no improvement and went back to the hospital. It was only then that doctors discovered that she was suffering from pneumonia. The condition interfered with her oxygen flow-providing insufficient oxygen to her brain. She soon suffered an anoxic brain injury, sending her into a vegetative state.

The woman was placed on hospice care and died shortly after.

The grieving husband eventually filed this brain injury lawsuit against the negligent medical professionals who failed to take appropriate action after the repeated attempts by the women to explain her serious symptoms. Specifically, the suit cites the facility’s failure to notice the significance of the symptoms, run appropriate tests, and adequately diagnose her condition.
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Fox 41 reported that a family’s van was struck by an alleged drunk driver while traveling on Highway U.S. 31 in Alabama. An 8-year old child dies as a result of the accident involving an alleged drunk driver. The mother suffered several broken ribs and a head injury, while the father was hospitalized in a coma for several days.

After the occurrence, the negligent driver of the other vehicle was charged with DUI, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and four counts of 1st degree assault. In addition, the family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver for their irreversible brain injuries and the death of their daughter.

Many drivers do not recognize the ramifications of drinking a few drinks socially and then getting into a motor vehicle. According to MADD, one person dies every 50 minutes as a result of a drunk driving accident. However, these actions have serious consequences including brain injury or death. This tragic incident will hopefully remind this community the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

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Several weeks ago, the Daily Herald reported that an Illinois family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the Kane County Circuit Court for the wrongful death of a 66-year-old woman from East Dundee. The woman suffered a fatal brain injury after being hit by a car as she crossed Route 31. According to the report of the pedestrian accident, the lawsuit alleges that the driver failed to drive safely or pay attention to the road. He was cited by police for failing to yield and failing to use due care.

Brain injuries are unfortunately all to common in car and pedestrian accidents throughout Illinois. In many instances, these injuries are fatal, or require years of recovery. To read more about this wrongful death lawsuit, follow the link provided.

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An attack, causing a brain injury, may have killed a person 8 years later. Two 18 year olds got into a fight and one of the individuals hit the other with a baseball bat causing a serious brain injury; 8 years later he died and the doctors are trying to determine whether the brain injury was the cause of death. Experts say that brain injuries can result in death years later; in fact people with brain injuries are more likely to die early. To read the entire article click here “brain injury

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Six months after a serious truck accident near the Illinois-Missouri border, Mark Tiburzi is left with severe brain trauma. The 53-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury after a truck crashed into a line of 10 vehicles, injuring 15 and killing 3. At least 5 personal injury lawsuits have been filed since the automobile accident. Due to his brain injury, Tiburzi can breathe independently, but needs a feeding tube to eat and lives in a nursing home. His wife of 25 years said, “I talk to him… but he doesn’t talk back.” The truck driver was distracted by his cell phone when he caused the accident. For the full story, click here.

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A nursing home lawsuit is to be filed by the family of a woman who was prone to nursing home wandering. The woman, a 46 year old, with a history of seizures and brain injuries was found naked in a motel in Chicago, Illinois after wandering off from an alleged negligent nursing home. The woman found in Cook County was beaten to death and had suffered serious personal injuries caused by an unknown suspect. The woman went missing after leaving Somerset Nursing Home. The family will likely also file a wrongful death suit against the defendant nursing home. To see the full story on this alleged Somerset Nursing home abuse click here.