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Judge awards $5M to the family of woman who died of aneurysm

There are many different circumstances that could cause a resident of Pennsylvania to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Whether the lawsuit is based in a motor vehicle accident, a defective product or, medical malpractice, the thing they all have in common is that they are being brought because someone has died after another person or behaved in a manor deemed to be negligent.

Earlier this month, the family of a woman who died due to substandard care, she received at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Altoona was awarded more than $5 million. The family had sued after the woman died from a brain aneurysm. The award was based on the Wrongful Death Act and the Survival Act.

Over two thirds, or 70 percent, of the award was based on the behavior of a radiologist who while employed by the VA, failed to report properly what was on the CT scans the woman had done. Though two other doctors were also held responsible as a part of another case that was settled, the case against the radiologist indicated that those two doctors would have pursued a different course of action-one different than what they did do-if they had the correct information. Their cases were previously settled outside of court.

This situation is particularly tragic since the woman who died was the main caretaker for her son who was born with a variety of medical issues such as cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy and optic nerve damage. Thought the majority of the award is for his benefit to help pay for his treatment, it is nowhere near what the family really needs. The man is currently a resident at a care facility in a neighboring state. According to a life-care planner annually, it costs approximately $84,760.

This is a sad outcome to an already tragic episode. What do you think about it? Should the woman's son receive more that he did?

Source: The Legal Intelligencer, "Judge awards $5.3 million to family of deceased VA patient," Saranac Hale Spencer, Aug. 6, 2012

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