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Illinois Appeals Court Allows Abortion-Related Wrongful Death Claim to Continue

Posted on in Wrongful Death

Waukegan wrongful death lawyersThe Illinois Wrongful Death Act can be difficult to understand and interpret correctly. As with many pieces of legislation, the way the law should be interpreted is established in large part through case law. Recently, the First District Appellate Court announced a ruling that demonstrates the complex nature of the Wrongful Death Act with regard to unborn fetuses. If you have lost an unborn child due to medical negligence, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about your options under Illinois law.

Surgeon’s Failure to Recognize Pregnancy Leads to Elective Abortion

According to court records, when the Illinois woman bringing the unprecedented lawsuit was admitted to the hospital for an elective surgery, she did not know that she was pregnant. During presurgical assessment, samples of her blood and urine were tested and lab results showed an increased amount of Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HGC), the so-called “pregnancy hormone,” in her system. Although the lab results indicated a possible pregnancy, the woman was allegedly assured that she was not pregnant and the surgical procedure continued. Unfortunately, the woman was, in fact, pregnant. She claims that she later learned that the medications and general anesthesia used during the surgery may have resulted in major fetal abnormalities. Because of this, the woman elected to terminate her pregnancy.  

Liability for Fetal Death May Lie With the Surgeon Who Failed to Recognize Pregnancy

Although the woman’s decision to have an abortion was her own choice, she only made this decision because the fetus could potentially suffer from deformities. These possible deformities would not have occurred if the surgeon had recognized that the woman was pregnant and canceled the original surgery. Because of this, the woman filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the surgeon.

The Illinois Wrongful Death Act prohibits actions against healthcare professionals when a fetus is terminated via a lawful abortion. The trial court certified a question to the appeals court, however, on whether action should be barred if alleged malpractice created the circumstance that led to the choice of an elective abortion. The appellate court held that the claim should be allowed to continue because the surgeon knew or should have known that the woman was pregnant and that medications used during surgery could significantly impact the fetus’s health. Because the surgeon’s alleged malpractice caused the circumstances that led to the abortion, the lawsuit is being allowed to continue at the trial level.

Contact a Waukegan Wrongful Death Lawyer

Illinois laws regarding personal injury and wrongful death claims are complicated and often subject to change. If you have recently lost a loved one and you believe that medical negligence may have contributed to the death, contact Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. to learn about your legal options. Call our office at 847-662-3303 today and schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable Lake County personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

 

Sources:

https://courts.illinois.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2020/1stDistrict/1191052.pdf

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2059

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