Governor Quinn Signs Family Medical Records Legislation

Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys work with many family members who are seeking legal action on behalf of their deceased senior loved one who died after receiving inadequate care. Legal cases involving a death present a few legal complications that do not exist in cases where the one harmed is alive and named as a plaintiff. Usually cases following a death are actual multiple cases, one filed in the relatives’ own name as a wrongful death lawsuit and another in the name of the victim’s estate.

Beyond these basic procedural differences, cases with the death of a loved have also presented some evidentiary problems. For one thing, it was often time-consuming and needlessly complicated for loved ones to obtain the medical records of their deceased relatives. These records are essential in nursing home neglect lawsuits, because a key factor in the legal case involves issues of harm to the resident, how they died, and for what ailments they were treated. It is incumbent for those involved in these suits to obtain the medical records of their loved one so that these and other medical facts can be understood and conclusively established. Yet, obtaining the records has always presented a red tape hurdle for family members. That is because a separate legal court proceeding had to be initiated to get access to those records.

Fortunately, common sense recently prevailed, and the law has been changed to allow for an easier method for family members to obtain the medical records of a loved one. The official “opening” of an estate is no longer necessary following Pat Quinn’s signature of SB 1694-a Senate bill that changes the medical records process. Per the terms of the new law, the deceased’s executor, administrator, or agent can submit a written request for the records without initiating a separate legal proceeding. If none of those parties exists (and the deceased did not object to disclosure while alive), then a spouse, adult children, parents or siblings of the deceased may obtain the documents after a written request. The legislation which changed the process includes specific language that can be used in the written request by the relatives. It includes a relatively brief few sentences whereby the writer certifies that they are the appropriate relation to the deceased and then formally requested for the documents.

The death of a loved one is perhaps the toughest experience that many residents go through. Our Chicago injury lawyers know that the situation is often made worse when the death was caused in full or part by the misconduct of another. Our lawyers know that the last thing these families need are any more unnecessary legal hurdles that take up time, money, and emotional stress. This bipartisan bill was long overdue, and it represents a simple way that lawmakers can help the lives of community members without any cost. We applaud those involved in this decision, and look forward to helping families take advantage of the new system when it relates to legal matters.

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