“Yes, this death was the result of malpractice, but there is no one with the right to sue and hold the doctor or hospital to account.”
As a medical malpractice lawyer in Wisconsin, I have had to deliver this sad and surprising news more than once to parents of an adult child who died because of medical malpractice. I have also had to inform adult children who lose a parent because of medical negligence: “Because you are adults, you cannot sue for the wrongful death of your parent. And if there is no surviving spouse, there is no one with the right to sue, and the wrong will have to go unaddressed.”
This may change. Wisconsin Assembly Bill 291, if adopted into law, would reverse two court decisions and confirm that a parent of an adult child whose injuries were the result of medical malpractice will have the right to sue for the loss of the child’s society and compansionship. The bill would reverse the 1994 decision in Estate of Wells v. Mt. Sinai Medical Center and allow a parent to recover for loss of society and companionship if the parent’s adult child is injured as the result of medical malpractice. The bill would also reverse the 2000 decision in Czapinski v. St. Francis Hospital, Inc. and permit an adult child to sue for the loss of society and companionship of a parent who died as the result of medical malpractice.
The death of a child due to medical malpractice can be a grievous loss no matter at what age it occurs. Fairness demands that this bill be passed into law.