David S. Jasmer
Setting the Standard in Personal Injury
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Illinois widow: Airline neglected husband’s fatal chest pains

Doing something wrong may be better or worse than doing nothing at all. However, either behavior -- a mistake or a failure to take reasonable action to prevent an injury or death – can be considered negligence in a Chicago liability case. The word "reasonable" is the key.

A determination of negligence depends upon how a defendant acted prior to or during an accident. A speeding driver who causes a fatal accident dismisses the danger of driving too fast and at the same time, disregards the safety of everyone else. Speeding falls outside what a jury might conclude is a reasonable action for law-abiding drivers.

A Pekin, Illinois, widow, who recently filed a combined survival action and wrongful death claim, alleges American Airlines' failure to act contributed to her husband's death. The 52-year-old man developed chest pains while on a Pittsburgh-to-Chicago flight in 2012. The lawsuit claims airline personnel did nothing to help the man after the passenger informed the staff of the symptoms.

The complaint said the carrier's employees did not search for a medical professional among the passengers or administer oxygen or drugs that might have saved the man's life. Both nitroglycerine and aspirin were available on the flight. Shortly thereafter, the passenger's heart stopped functioning.

The man lost consciousness when the plane touched down. Paramedics at O'Hare Airport were unable to revive him. A spokesperson for American Airlines later said no diversion for emergency medical care was necessary because the flight was direct.

It's true: There is a liability risk in some cases where people try to help ill or injured parties. Imagine that you could be of help but because of concerns about the impact upon you, you failed to do anything at all. It would be terribly hard and quite possibly negligent to watch a person suffer or die knowing you could have but didn't act to save him or her.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Wife of man who died after American Airlines flight suing" Megan Graham, Aug. 27, 2014

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