There is an old saying in basketball, especially on pick up courts, that goes “No harm, no foul.” This essentially means that if it didn’t hurt you when I fouled you that you need to just play on and there’s nothing you can do. We’ve seen a bunch of hard fouls already during the NCAA basketball tournament, but many of them wouldn’t be fouls at all if it were just a bunch of buddies getting together for a pick up game.
Medical malpractice lawsuits in Illinois kind of work in a similar way. I get calls all the time from people who treated with a doctor or hospital who were clearly negligent. For example, I’ve talked to people who went to the hospital or urgent care with what clearly sounds like a blood clot in their leg. The doctor sends them away telling them that it’s likely just a sore muscle. Hours later they are in a lot of pain and go to a different hospital only to discover the blood clot and get rushed in to surgery or put on blood thinners.
Another common example is when someone goes to the hospital with an arm or ankle injury and are told after x-rays that it’s just a sprain. Maybe a month or so later after walking around in pain they discover that there is a broken bone. Unless they can show that they are now permanently disabled in a way that wouldn’t have happened any way it’s probably not a case worth bringing.
“I could have died” is what I’m told a lot and that is true. But to paraphrase basketball, no harm, no lawsuit. Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits are not about what could have happened, but instead are about what did happen. It costs often $50,000-$100,000.00 or more to go to trial in one of these lawsuits. There are strict standards for even bringing the case in the first place which involve numerous medical professionals testifying as to what was done wrong. That costs a lot of money. As a result, Illinois malpractice law firms can typically only bring lawsuits when there are damages which are really significant.
It sucks because it’s true that a lot of doctors get away with really bad treatment and when they do, they often go on to harm many others. It doesn’t make us money, but it’s a simple truth that you have to have negligence (not just a bad result) AND real damages to make bringing a lawsuit worthwhile.
If you do have a complaint against the doctor when they have been negligent, but it’s not worth a lawsuit, filing a complaint with the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. They license and discipline doctors and it’s their job to protect the public even when the doctor doesn’t cause a catastrophic harm. You can always call us at (312) 346-5320 to speak with an attorney for free, and we will let you know if it is worth filing a lawsuit.