New Wisconsin Law Provides Immunity For Medical Negligence
Jeff Pitman, partner and attorney at PKSD Law firm spoke out on a new state law in a Fox 6 News interview this week. Wisconsin Act 185, which was originally intended and touted as the state’s COVID-19 bill, had overwhelming bipartisan support and was enacted into law earlier this month.
However, there were some last-minute alterations to the wording of the bill that has many lawyers, including Pitman, concerned. Not only does this amendment seem to drastically change the bill’s purpose, but it may also negatively impact families and their loved ones.
What Are The Concerns For Wisconsin Act 185?
The original language of this new state bill, when presented at the Wisconsin State Assembly earlier this month, included a provision for immunity from civil lawsuits to healthcare providers responding to COVID-19. The bill applies from March 12, 2019 through 60 days following the resolution of the pandemic.
However, before the final vote on the bill occurred, assembly speaker Robin Vos introduced a last-minute amendment which altered some of the wording. The new language, which the Wisconsin Medical Society contributed to, involved what Vos called “technical corrections.” These changes completely remove all references to the “2019 novel coronavirus” under the immunity provision.
Lawyers who were previously in support of the bill, including Pitman, are disturbed by the change, because it seems to now provide “carte blanche” immunity to healthcare workers for negligence resulting in the injury or wrongful death of a loved one.
During the Fox 6 News interview, Pitman, who is a long-time advocate for victims of nursing home abuse and negligence, stated that, “This bill does not make families more safe. It makes your family less safe and your loved one less safe because there’s no consequences for any actions.”
How Might the Changes Impact Families and Their Loved Ones?
One mother, Linda Berger, who understands negligence firsthand and was interviewed for this Fox 6 News investigative report by Amanda St. Hilaire speaks out, “I don’t believe in frivolous lawsuits at all. I can’t stand them. But for people not to be able to pursue some kind of justice for their loved ones, that’s just wrong.”
Four years ago, Berger’s daughter, Kelly, who suffered brain damage from a lack of oxygen at birth, was an inpatient resident in a group home. She was almost 50 years-old when she died in a choking incident after being left unattended by her caregivers, in spite of being told that she could not be left alone. The family sued the group home for negligence and received a settlement.
Being able to hold the caregivers accountable while obtaining some justice for their daughter is the type of action that may no longer be available under Wisconsin Act 185.
It should be noted that the bill expires 60 days following the conclusion of the pandemic, and it does not extend immunity for acts of “reckless or wanton conduct or intentional misconduct.” However, Pitman and other attorneys say that most of their victims suffer from acts of negligence, rather than reckless behavior. Negligence is neither mentioned nor addressed in Wisconsin Act 185.
Seek Legal Help With Our Trusted Lawyers Today
At PKSD Law, our Wisconsin nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers continue to advocate for your injured loved ones throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
We can handle your claim online without the need for a face-to-face meeting. Contact us today to get answers to your legal questions, including whether you may have a valid claim.
PKSD Law. Available to take your call 24/7: 877-877-2228