Bill offers new wrongful death lawsuit options

Doctors and hospital industry groups are fuming over a bill working its way through the Illinois legislature which would expand consumers' ability to sue for wrongful death damages. The bill would allow family members of patients who die to seek compensation for "grief, sorrow and mental anguish" in addition to other forms of damages. The bill, which would extend to both accidental deaths and medical malpractice, has ignited a major controversy in the state, which is still recovering from battles over medical malpractice rates. Critics of the new bill say that it would expand wrongful death awards beyond what is appropriate, given that existing law allows for damages such as "loss of society," which takes in love, care and affection. Since 2005, the state has had a $500,000 per doctor and $1 million per hospital cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, but relationships between providers and the state are still fragile. 

To learn more about the legislation:
- read this St. Louis Post-Dispatch piece