Justice for All Families

By Mark L. Thomsen

A widow goes into the hospital for a pacemaker procedure.   During the procedure the doctor punctures the widow’s aorta causing her death.  Can the doctor be held accountable?  Can the family seek justice?  You’d think so.

Well, not in Wisconsin.

Under current Wisconsin law adult children don't have the right to seek justice if their single parent dies as a result of medical negligence.  It’s the same story for the parents of single adult children.

So if an 18-year-old high school senior, single (as most of them are) and living at home, were to die due to a doctor’s negligence – the parents would be unable to seek justice for her death.

If you think something is wrong with that, you’re not the only one.

Most families faced with this unfortunate situation react with anger and disbelief.  It is inconceivable to them that a death caused by medical negligence can go unpunished.

This is why the Wisconsin Association for Justice has been standing side by side with families from across the state fighting for the Family Justice Bill.  The legislation would ensure all families have the right to seek justice when a loved one dies as a result of a doctor’s negligence.  It’s a bill that helps real people facing real problems. 

Sounds sensible enough right?

Thankfully, committees in both the State Senate and State Assembly have recommended the bill be adopted.  Now its fate is in the hands of the full State Assembly and Senate, where we remain optimistic about the chances for finally fixing this loophole in Wisconsin law.  This legislation should cross party lines because it recognizes the important relationship parents and children share regardless of age or marital status.

Everyone deserves to be treated equally in Wisconsin.  Families should have the right to access the courts and seek justice when a loved one dies.  The Family Justice Bill ensures that the courthouse doors are open to deserving individuals who want seek justice and accountability when a loved one dies as a result of medical negligence.

Mark Thomsen is the President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice Wisconsin’s largest statewide voluntary attorney organization defending the civil justice system.  Look for Mark’s columns each month.

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