Family Justice

**PLEASE SUPPORT Senate Bill 138**

DATE: December 3, 2007

BILL: Senate Bill 138 - Sen. Jeff Plale & Rep. Tony Staskunas

ISSUE: The Family Justice Bill


Background: Under current law, many Wisconsin families are left with no remedy when an unmarried, widowed or divorced family member dies as a result of medical malpractice.  Parents can file for the loss of their minor child but not once the child reaches 18 years of age.  Wisconsin also prohibits the right of an adult child to file action if their elderly parent dies due to medical malpractice.  The only person that can file a claim in this case is the spouse of the elderly parent.  If that spouse is already deceased, then there is no one to file a claim to recover for the wrongful death. 

This bill allows the parents of children over age 18 to pursue wrongful death claims in medical malpractice cases.  It also allows adult children to pursue similar claims in cases involving an unmarried, divorced or widowed parent.

Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that deprive adult children of the right to bring a wrongful death claim for the death of a parent in a medical malpractice case.  In fact, if the doctor had killed the parent in an automobile accident, a wrongful death claim could be filed.  This is absolutely nonsensical. 

Reason for Support: Wisconsin families deserve the right to a fair and just civil remedy through our court system when a loved one is killed in a medical malpractice case.  Age and marital status should not be the determining factors!

How would you deal with the awful prospect of the loss of your own 18-year-old son or daughter due to medical errors?  How would you react to the fact that there is no legal recourse for the medical negligence that lead to the death of your 18-year-old child or your elderly parent? 

Everyone deserves to be treated equally in Wisconsin.  Our laws should not discriminate against people based on their age or martial status.  Negligent health care providers in an operating room should not be treated differently than negligent car drivers.

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