Since 1950, members of the military have not possessed the right, enjoyed by civilians in Kentucky and across the nation who receive care from doctors or hospitals, to file medical malpractice lawsuits against military doctors or hospitals. But Congress may remove part of this legal privilege blocking these lawsuits. This bill could lower the bar to the filing of lawsuits by military personnel or the filing of wrongful death lawsuits by their families.
Since 1952, police in Kentucky have been immune from lawsuits in the event that a car chase caused death or injury to third parties. Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court issued a ruling eliminating this blanket immunity and overturning its 67-year-old decision. The decision allowed a wrongful death lawsuit against two sheriffs for the death of a motorist.
Kentucky, like other states, has legal requirements for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Meeting these procedures is essential for a wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit when doctors or health care facilities provided substandard care. Otherwise, there may not be financial reckoning for medical harm.
The push-button ignition starter is a recent and popular innovation that allows motorists to keep their key-fobs in their pockets. However, this innovation has proven fatal in dozens of cases where people died from carbon monoxide inhalation after they forgot to push the starter button off. While this may be grounds for a wrongful death action, a bill was also introduced in the U.S. Senate addressing this danger.
The Kentucky state Supreme Court unanimously declared that the state's medical review panels, which required a panel evaluation of pending lawsuits, were unconstitutional. A constitutional amendment is being considered, which would re-establish these panels. However, medical review panels are not justified and do not improve the system for litigating wrongful death and other medical malpractice claims.
Drunk driving is not only a threat onshore and with cars. Drunk boating has also been a major factor in wrongful death in lakes and rivers in this country. It was uncovered that alcohol was the major contributor and the primary factor in 15 percent of fatal boating accident deaths in 2016. There were 4,500 boating accidents and more than 700 deaths in these accidents that year, according to the American Boating Association. People who have a blood alcohol content of at least 0.10 percent are 10 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than sober boaters.
For patients and their families, medical malpractice can have devastating and long-term consequences. In fact, evidence shows medical errors could become a major component of wrongful death lawsuits. Approximately 9.5 percent of all deaths in this country can be attributed to medical error, according to a John Hopkins 2016 study.
The state Supreme Court has struck down 2017 law that required those filing a medical malpractice lawsuit to first go before a medical review panel. Only after the review panel signed off on a case was it allowed to proceed.