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Jury finds for siblings in wrongful death case

Illinois residents who require surgeries often understand that there are risks associated with the procedures. What they most likely would not understand are medical mistakes that cost them their lives. When mistakes happen, surviving family members retain the right to file wrongful death claims against the parties believed to be responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.

In December 2014, a brother and sister filed such a claim after their mother died as a result of mistakes made during a surgical procedure in November 2013. The woman needed the operation in order to repair a hiatal hernia, which is a condition in which the stomach protrudes up through the diaphragm. During the surgery, the woman's stomach was perforated. 

Doctors at UCLA failed to notice the tear during the surgery, and she was sent home in due course. Over the course of the next month, the woman's condition failed to improve. On Dec. 27, 2013, just two days after Christmas, she died.

Her children then filed the lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California. After less than a day of deliberation, the jury decided in favor of the siblings and awarded them $1.75 million. However, due to a California law that caps pain and suffering awards at $250,000, the verdict could only be symbolic.

Monetary restitution often helps with the unexpected financial losses a family incurs upon losing one of its members. However, many medical malpractice cases are also filed with the aim of preventing the same medical mistakes from happening again. Like many Illinois families who file wrongful death claims in the aftermath of surgical mistakes, this case could help prevent another family from losing a loved one.

Source:, "Jury awards family $1.75M in UCLA malpractice lawsuit", Hoa Quach, July 15, 2016

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Q: What is medical malpractice?

A: Medical malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider, such as a doctor, nurse, dentist, technician, hospital worker or hospital, whose treatment of a patient departs from a standard of care met by those with similar training and experience, resulting in harm to a patient...

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