Medical malpractice case adds twist to laws for same-sex couples

Wednesday July 30, 2014

It is always a traumatic experience to see a loved one suffer due to the error of a medical care provider. While the emotional distress can never be recompensed, there are legal measures to make sure that such professional negligence does not go unpunished. Such laws help guarantee that when a caregiver is consulted, they take up their task as carefully as needed and do their best to provide patients adequate care. However, these legal remedies are apparently not available to everyone, as a recent case adjudicated by a Connecticut Supreme Court reveals.

The case was brought by a woman, whose same-sex spouse died as a result of medical negligence. However, she apparently did not have the legal authority to file a lawsuit against the errant doctor until the court ruled that she could do so. While the outcome of the medical malpractice lawsuit is not known, the ruling is being seen as a landmark in legislation relating to same-sex couples, as it allows them to receive retroactive benefits that were earlier restricted to partners in heterosexual marriages.

In Connecticut, as in many other states, a person filing a medical malpractice claim can receive compensation related to the loss of his or her companion, as well as their livelihood and income. While this does depend on the independent opinion of another caregiver that the care provided was indeed inadequate or negligent, there seems no reason to limit benefits to heterosexual couples. Given that those filing the petition are already aggrieved, denying them legal aid can be perceived as adding to the injury.

The loss of a spouse or a near relative can leave the bereaved questioning if anything could have been done to prevent the death. This doubt is often also pushed on to those responsible for providing medical treatment or support. While it may not always be the fault of the doctor, in some cases there is enough cause to believe that the death could have been prevented.

Source: CBS Connecticut, “Court’s Ruling Adds To Debate On Retroactive Benefits In Same-Sex Marriage,” Dave Collins, July 17, 2014

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