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How To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Illinois

Offered by Clifford Law Offices

A medical negligence attorney can help you obtain justice and accountability

We trust medical professionals to provide us with care that meets the standards of the medical community. When that trust is broken due to medical negligence or preventable errors, it’s crucial to address the consequences we face as a result.

Medical malpractice can lead to permanent injuries, ongoing medical costs, or even death. Although a lawsuit cannot undo the harm caused by a negligent healthcare provider, it can offer essential financial support to affected families. 

Furthermore, a successful medical malpractice lawsuit can provide financial support to victims and deter future negligence by holding healthcare providers accountable and sending a strong message that the safety and well-being of patients must always be a top priority.

If you or someone you love was harmed due to medical negligence in Illinois, it’s important to know that you have the right to seek justice and compensation. Navigating the nuances of a medical malpractice claim in Illinois can be challenging, but you don’t have to face it alone. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help evaluate your case, guide you through the legal process, and work tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve.

What is the definition of medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice refers to negligence by various healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, technicians, and radiologists, as well as hospital procedures. While we hold our healthcare providers in high regard, it’s important to remember that they sometimes are negligent. Negligence is often serious and can have a significant effect on patients’ lives.

Common types of medical malpractice

Medical malpractice can have different causes, each representing a failure to practice within the expected standard of care. Understanding these causes can help patients recognize when they might have been victims of negligence and when they may be able to pursue a claim. Below are some medical malpractice scenarios:

Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis

When a healthcare provider negligently does not correctly identify a patient’s condition in a timely manner, leading to delayed treatment, incorrect treatment, or no treatment at all. Misdiagnosis can result in the worsening of an existing condition or the development of new complications.

Surgical errors

Incorrect surgical procedures, surgery on the wrong body part, or leaving surgical instruments inside a patient’s body are all negligent. This negligence can lead to severe complications or the need for additional surgeries.

Medication errors

Administering the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or a medication to which the patient has a known allergy can have serious, sometimes fatal, consequences. This can occur at any point from prescription to dispensing and administration.

Childbirth injuries

Negligence during childbirth can lead to injuries to both the mother and the baby. These injuries can be the result of delayed actions, failure to recognize distress signals, improper use of delivery tools, or failure to perform a necessary cesarean section.

Anesthesia errors

Anesthesiologists must carefully calculate the amount of anesthesia required based on various patient factors. Too little anesthesia can result in consciousness during surgery, while too much can lead to severe complications or death.

Failure to obtain informed consent

Healthcare providers must fully inform patients about the risks and benefits of treatments or procedures. Failure to obtain informed consent before proceeding is malpractice, especially if the patient would have made a different choice if fully informed.

Poor communication

Miscommunication among medical providers can lead to negligent care, such as administering the wrong treatment or failing to convey important patient information that could influence treatment decisions.

Hospital-acquired infections

Patients can acquire infections while in the hospital if staff fail to follow proper sterilization procedures. These infections can be severe and complicate existing health conditions.

Systemic problems within healthcare facilities

The underlying cause of medical malpractice is sometimes due to systemic issues within the healthcare facility, such as understaffing, inadequate training, or poor management. This leads to a culture where negligent care is more likely to happen.

Keep in mind that presenting a successful medical malpractice case requires not only identification of the negligence but also substantiating the claim with expert testimony. It’s not enough to suggest a healthcare professional made a mistake; the specifics of the mistake must be clearly explained to a jury through credible expert testimony. A patient must have a lawyer well-versed in the medical issues who is equipped with the resources to bring in qualified experts.

What are the core elements of a medical malpractice lawsuit?

In an Illinois medical malpractice claim, the following elements must be proven:

  • Establishment of a professional relationship (duty): This relationship can be substantiated through medical records or billing documentation. It’s important to note that informal advice received outside a professional setting, such as recommendations from a physician at a social gathering, may not constitute a professional relationship and may not lay the groundwork for a malpractice suit.
  • Breach of duty of care (negligence): At the heart of a medical malpractice lawsuit is the concept of a breach of duty. This requires solid evidence that the healthcare provider engaged in negligent acts or omissions. Examples of such breaches include reporting to work under the influence or the misinterpretation of diagnostic tests.
  • Causation: It is essential to establish a direct link between the healthcare provider’s negligence and the injury sustained by the patient. The negligence must be a cause of the injuries. 
  • Damages or injuries: The claimant must prove that injuries resulted from the negligence. Damages can include medical expenses, physical and emotional suffering, diminished quality of life, and financial losses (medical bills and loss of income).

The process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois

In Illinois, pursuing legal action against a negligent healthcare professional for malpractice is a structured procedure governed by the Healing Arts Malpractice Act (HAMA). While similar in principle to ordinary negligence cases, the complexity of medical malpractice claims involve a multi-step process, including:

  • Assessment: Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit begins with a thorough assessment of the case’s viability. This involves reviewing the circumstances surrounding the alleged malpractice, identifying potential defendants, and evaluating the extent of the patient’s injuries.
  • Acquisition and review of medical records: Obtaining comprehensive medical records pertinent to the malpractice claim is an essential step in the process. These records serve as the foundation for the expert review and subsequent affidavit, offering critical insights into the patient’s treatment history and the alleged negligence.
  • Expert review and affidavit requirement: Unlike ordinary negligence cases, medical malpractice lawsuits mandate an additional step. According to Section 2-622 of the Healing Arts Malpractice Act, a licensed physician who has practiced or taught in the same area within the last six years must review the patient’s medical records and sign a report describing the negligence in the case. This report is a prerequisite for initiating the lawsuit and must accompany the complaint upon filing.

How much is a medical malpractice lawsuit worth?

Determining the value of a medical malpractice lawsuit is a complex process that depends on various factors unique to each case. These factors include the extent of the injury or harm, the cost of medical treatment and ongoing care, lost wages or earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other components of damages.

In general, the value of a medical malpractice lawsuit is influenced by the severity and long-term impact of the injury, as well as the strength of the evidence supporting the claim of negligence. Additionally, the jurisdiction where the lawsuit is filed and the specific laws governing medical malpractice cases in that jurisdiction can also affect the claim’s potential value.

In Illinois, the Illinois Supreme Court has declared caps on damages in medical malpractice cases unconstitutional. Caps or limits on damages limits compensation for victims of medical negligence. 

To determine the potential value of a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is essential to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can evaluate the unique circumstances of your case and provide personalized legal advice. An attorney can assess the damages you have suffered, gather relevant evidence, and advocate on your behalf in litigation to seek fair and just compensation for your losses.

What is the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice suit in Illinois?

A medical malpractice case has a statute of limitations. In Illinois, it must be filed within two years from the date of the alleged malpractice. Sometimes it can be within two years after the patient knew or reasonably should have known about the injury. 

Illinois law provides certain exceptions and extensions under specific circumstances, in cases involving minors or individuals under legal disability, or rarely in cases when the healthcare provider fraudulently concealed evidence of the malpractice.

Given the nuances of Illinois medical malpractice laws and the strict adherence to statutory deadlines, individuals considering legal action for medical negligence must consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can assess the specific circumstances of the case, determine the applicable statute of limitations, and ensure timely compliance with filing requirements.

How a medical malpractice lawyer can help with your claim

If you suspect you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, you owe it to yourself to get a clear understanding of your potential legal options. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can provide a thorough and compassionate examination of your situation and help guide you through the legal process in Illinois.

By seeking legal representation, you can gain valuable insight into the strength of your case, navigate Illinois’ complex medical malpractice laws, and pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Don’t hesitate to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your jurisdiction as soon as possible to advocate for your rights and hold negligent healthcare providers accountable for their actions.

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