Seeking Justice For All Wisconsin Families

By Christine Bremer Muggli
February 2008

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, a majority of the State Senate agreed and voted in favor of the Family Justice Bill.  Now it's fate is in the hands of the State Assembly.  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 seek justice and accountability when a loved one dies as a result of medical negligence.

Christine Bremer Muggli is the President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice (formerly the Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers), Wisconsin's largest statewide voluntary attorney organization defending the civil justice system.  Look for Christine's columns each month.

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