An Ohio nurse was literally worked to death by her hospital, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her husband last week. Attorney Jason Chalik says that if the suit succeeds it will revolutionize personal injury and worker protection law.
Beth Jasper allegedly worked through breaks during 12-hour shifts and was frequently called in while off-duty according to CNN (11.12.2013). Widower Jim Jasper claims the long hours led directly to her death in a car accident.
The accident happened after work in March when Jasper’s car veered off the road, hopped a curb and smashed into a tree. The lawsuit claims she was so tired she fell asleep at the wheel.
“This is a groundbreaking case for personal injury law, and for all nurses pulling long shifts,” said Chalik, a founder of The Law Offices of Chalik and Chalik. “Those hours are a threat to their lives and to the patients they’re caring for.”
But Chalik believes the case will face a difficult battle.
“No one can deny understaffing and overworking in hospitals,” Chalik said. “But her employer will argue that they never knew she worked through breaks. They’ll say they didn’t ask anything excessive of her.”
Chalik says proving the cause of her death will also be hard.
“Lawsuits like these can get ugly,” he said. “The hospital will ask if she might have been texting while she was driving, or drinking. They may try to blame her for her own death.”
If the lawsuit succeeds, however, Chalik says it will be pivotal.
“It will do more than just achieve justice for her husband,” he said. “Overworking is common practice in healthcare. If Mr. Jasper wins it means hospitals have to consider the consequences of their actions.”
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