Wisconsin’s Medical Malpractice Laws Prevent Justice, Some Say

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

Many in Appleton and around Wisconsin may not know that parents of an adult child cannot sue for certain damages in medical malpractice cases, however if their child is killed in a car accident, well that’s different. Thanks to a 1990 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, only minor children who lose a parent can sue the medical facility and or doctor responsible for loss of companionship and society in a wrongful death case caused by medical malpractice. And only parents can sue for the same, as long as their child is a minor.

Meaning if your 18-year-old child is killed through the negligence of a healthcare provider, you cannot sue that provider for loss of society and companionship.

Wisconsin trial lawyers have been attempting to correct this law for some years now, without success. The failure of the Family Justice Bill leaves the parents of a 32-year-old who died as a result of an overdose of methadone provided by a metro treatment center without the ability to seek justice for their loss. Defenders of the law claim it keeps healthcare costs down, while those who oppose the law say it denies victims of medical malpractice a voice in the justice system.

One trial attorney said the claim that preventing medical malpractice lawsuits to keep healthcare costs down is simply “ridiculous.” According to the Office of the Director of State Courts, Wisconsin had only 122 medical malpractice cases last year, and of those only 54 times were payouts made for malpractice. It is simply a matter of justice, said the attorney, negligence is negligence.

If an adult child is killed through medical malpractice on the operating table, his parents are denied justice, but if the child is killed through the negligence of another in any other manner, such as a car accident or animal attack, his parents are allowed to seek justice. It doesn’t make any sense. Loss of society and companionship is simply that, regardless of how it is brought about. To hold one party responsible but not another is not equal justice, some say.

Although efforts are being made to lobby for passage of the Family Justice Bill, there is little optimism it will pass in the Legislature any time soon.

Source: Superior Telegram, “Views differ on whether state malpractice law is adequate,” Tom Giffey, Aug. 20, 2012

Our personal injury law firm handles a variety of medical malpractice claims, the topic of today’s post. For more information on our practice, visit our personal injury page of our web site.