One key element in every Illinois wrongful death case is medical proof of the death and injuries. By that, I am not talking about showing that someone is actually dead – there is almost never any controversy about that.
However, in some cases, there is controversy about whether the death was caused by the accident. One of the things that a plaintiff in a wrongful death suit must prove is that the death was caused by the accident. If there is no proof that the death was caused by the accident, the defendants do not have to pay any damages for death, no matter how serious they are. This is a common issue in Illinois medical malpractice suits, Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect cases, and any other case where there is a lengthy delay between the time of the accident and the death.
To help establish the needed proof, we review medical records to find evidence that links the cause of death back to the initial accident. We identify the doctors who are needed come to court to testify about the cause of death and supply the needed link between the accident and the ultimate cause of death. Where there are no readily identifiable doctors, we retain the services of highly-qualified experts to review medical records and other materials to determine the cause of the death.
Issues of medical proof can be important in the survival portion of a wrongful death case also. Damages in a survival action can be recovered only for conscious pain and suffering prior to death. In some cases, the medical issue of whether death was instantaneous or whether the deceased could perceive pain may be crucial in determining whether or not there will be compensation under the survival aspect of the case. Where this is an issue, we not only review the medical records for forensic evidence of conscious pain and suffering, but also locate witnesses who can testify as to the appearance and actions of the deceased in their last moments before passing away.
Medical proof is an important part of every wrongful death case and cannot be left to chance.