$5 Million Jury Verdict in Chicago Wrongful Death Lawsuit

March 28, 2012

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Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Pintas & Mullins support a recent jury decision awarding $5.18 million to the estate of a 15-year-old boy who died from a drug overdose. The Illinois wrongful death lawsuit was filed in 2005, a year after the boy's untimely death. The suit accused the city of Park Ridge of failing to properly evaluate and respond to an emergency situation. Sadly, this is the type of medical negligence that leads to thousands of serious injuries and death every year.

As the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting, the victim's family called 911 from their Devon Avenue home and explained that the boy was unresponsive. The victim's father tried to administer CPR but was unable to restore the boy's breathing. One of the issues in dispute is whether or not paramedics adequately responded to the call. The lawsuit alleges that after the paramedics arrived at the home, they failed to properly evaluate the victim. They merely asked how he was doing while standing several feet away. An attorney for the paramedics contends that the victim was still awake and responsive at the time of the paramedic's arrival, and his father refused medical services on his behalf. One important piece of evidence that was missing in this case was a release form confirming that the family refused medical care. The paramedic's lawyer admitted that a release form was never signed.

The report goes on to state that paramedics were called to the home a second time, approximately eight hours after the first call. Finally, paramedics took the boy to the hospital. But it was too late. The boy died the next day from opiate and cocaine intoxication. According to the lawsuit, paramedics either knew or should have known that the boy had a history of drug abuse. The paramedics involved in this case also knew or should have known that the boy's condition was life-threatening and provided him with adequate support.

The Illinois wrongful death lawsuit was originally dismissed by the Cook County Circuit Court, who held that the city of Park Ridge was immune from liability under the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. The Illinois Appellate Court upheld the dismissal. In October 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the decision and remanded the case back to the lower court. After a three-week jury trial, the city was ordered to pay the victim's estate $5.8 million.

Paramedics have a duty to provide patients with reasonable care under the circumstances. In a case such as this involving a claim of medical malpractice, the injured person or the injured person's legal representative must prove four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. When paramedics fail to conform to that duty, and a patient is injured as a result, compensation may be available in the form of pain and suffering, medical bill, and lost wages. A wrongful death lawsuit alleges negligent injury resulting in death. Other compensable medical mistakes may include failure to administer proper care, delayed ambulance arrival, and failure to diagnose.

It is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer immediately if you or a loved one has been injured by a negligent medical provider. There is a statutorily limited period of time in which you can file a claim, and you need to act quickly in order to protect your legal rights. The law holds paramedics and other medical personnel to a degree of reasonable care. When this responsibility is not met, and care falls below the established standard, it may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.