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When Surgical Mistakes Cost a Patient's Life

When surgical mistakes cost a patient's life, a case of wrongful death may be brought against the surgeon, hospital or other healthcare professional. Medical malpractice happens when healthcare providers fail in their responsibility to deliver quality healthcare to their patients. There are many types of medical malpractice that can result in personal injuries or even death. When surgeons fail to deliver the best possible care and make surgical errors that cause wrongful death, families may seek compensation for their loss.

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Wrongful death caused by surgical error is classified under personal injury law and is a form of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a situation where a health care provider did not follow the normal standards of care, and an injury resulted from this negligence. Hospitals may also be held liable for wrongful death claims. When complications arise during surgery, mistakes can occur such as an error of judgment by the surgeon, an anesthesia mistake or a hospital error. Patients can suffer severe repercussions from surgical mistakes and anesthesia mistakes.

 According to the State of Illinois and the Wrongful Death Act, "wrongful death" is defined as a death that is "caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act... [would] have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages" [if death had not occurred]. The law states that the person, company or corporation responsible for the death may be held liable in a lawsuit. In Illinois, families may file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation for their loss within one year and up to two years after the surgical procedure that resulted in death. The person filing a wrongful death case must be the "personal representative" of the deceased's estate. Usually, this is the spouse, the parent (of a minor) or the adult child of the deceased.

The personal representative may seek compensation for funeral expenses and damages for "grief, sorrow and mental suffering" of the family of the deceased (as stated in the Wrongful Death Act). According to the law, this includes only the surviving spouse and children of the deceased. The court determines the amount of damages awarded based on the circumstances and the person's dependency on the deceased. For Chicago, Illinois families seeking damages in a wrongful death case, a personal injury lawyer may help the personal representative file before the statute of limitations has expired, and help families deal with the grief and financial burden of their loss.

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