Any type of accident is traumatizing and painful for the victim and his or her family, but there are few things more devastating than losing a loved one as a result of someone else’s carelessness. At Therman Law Offices, our seasoned Chicago wrongful death lawyers have assisted grieving families with bringing wrongful death claims in a variety of accident types. There are many procedural issues that can arise in a wrongful death claim. A recent wrongful death action demonstrates some of these legal and procedural difficulties.
In the action, a woman signed a residency agreement with a nursing home facility. The agreement included a term stating that any disputes arising from the agreement must be resolved through binding arbitration instead of in a civil action. The woman eventually experienced a number of medical events, including diabetic shock that led to a diabetic coma. The woman was later transferred to a nearby hospital, where she tragically died.
The administrator of the woman’s estate filed a wrongful death action against the facility, alleging that the facility was negligent in its treatment and care of the woman and that her estate was entitled to damages as a result. The plaintiff sought damages pursuant to Illinois’ wrongful death statute in addition to the Rights of Married Persons Act and the Survival Act. In response to the complaint, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, stating that the residence agreement that the decedent signed required the court to dismiss the complaint and to direct the parties to binding arbitration. The plaintiff argued that the arbitration clause was unenforceable, but should the court enforce it, the wrongful death claim should be allowed to proceed in civil court concurrently with the arbitration proceeding on the other claims. In response, the defendant requested a stay of the wrongful death claim, pending the outcome of the arbitration procedure. The lower court denied the defendant’s request and entered an order allowing the wrongful death claim to proceed alongside the arbitration proceeding.