Illinois law allows families to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit when the negligence of the defendant was more probably true than not “a” cause of the death. It does not have to be the sole cause or the major cause, just “a” cause.This is significant in nursing home cases because many nursing home residents have significant pre-existing illnesses or other medical conditions which are contributing causes to the resident’s death. However as long as the negligence was “a” cause, then the family is entitled to recover damages for the wrongful death.
Further, many times the death of the resident comes days or even weeks after the event and may not be directly caused by the injury. For example, in one case we handled, the client’s father fell in a hospital and suffered a broken hip. He underwent surgery and had a post-operative heart attack. The heart attack was caused by a drop in blood pressure caused by the pain medications he received following the surgery. In that case, the family was permitted to recover damages for wrongful death.