Illinois Wrongful Death Cases Based on Medical Malpractice Must Be Brought within Two Years of Death

Earlier this year, an Illinois appellate court decided a case holding that the time of accrual for a wrongful death action based on the legal theory of medical malpractice is the time of death, rather than the time the alleged negligence was discovered. In the case, Moon v. Rhode, the plaintiff was the son of a woman who died while in the care of the defendant doctors.

hourglass-1543596According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff’s mother was in the care of the defendant doctors for 11 days preceding her death. At some point in that period, a CT scan was conducted and the results examined by one of the defendant doctors. Action was not taken after reviewing the results, and several days later the woman passed.

The plaintiff obtained medical records one year after his mother’s death. Three years after that, he contacted a medical expert, who opined that any “reasonably, well-qualified radiologist and physician would have identified” a breakdown in anastomosis, which ultimately contributed to the death of his mother. The plaintiff then filed suit against several treating physicians, claiming that his mother’s death was a result of the allegedly negligent medical care provided by the defendants.

At trial, the defendants argued that the two-year statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases had expired, since the case was filed over four years after the plaintiff’s mother’s death. In response, the plaintiff argued that under the “discovery rule,” his cause of action did not accrue until he became aware of the allegedly negligent conduct that gave rise to the claim. The court ruled in favor of the defendants, holding that “even if we give everybody the benefit of the doubt and try to fix a date at which a reasonable person was placed on inquiry as to whether there was malpractice, even that was long gone by the time the complaint was filed.”

The Plaintiff Appeals to the Intermediate Appellate Court

On the plaintiff’s appeal, the case was affirmed in favor of the defendants. The court noted that there was conflicting case law on the topic, but it ultimately determined that starting the plaintiff’s time to file at the time of death is more in line with the legislative intent behind the wrongful death and medical malpractice statutes. Ultimately, the court determined that “the required knowledge is of the death or injury, not of the negligent conduct.”

Have You Lost a Loved One Due to Physician Error?

If you have recently lost a loved one, and you believe that medical malpractice was at play, you may only have two years from the death of your loved one to file suit. Therefore, it is imperative that you act quickly to consult with a dedicated Illinois medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case. The attorneys at Moll Law Group have decades of collective experience litigating medical malpractice cases in Illinois courts, and we know what it takes to be successful for our clients. Call 312-462-1700 to set up a free consultation with an attorney today.

See More Posts:

Six-Vehicle Chain-Reaction Accident Caused When Semi-Truck Rear-Ends Van, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, October 20, 2015.

Fatal O’Fallon Truck Accident May Have Been Caused by Medical Emergency, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, October 18, 2015.