We receive about ten calls per day from people who are looking for a lawyer for an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit. Our goal on these calls is to learn the facts of what happened, determine if there is a case worth investigating and if so, refer you to a malpractice attorney who has experience and a track record of success with a case similar to yours.
It’s important to know a few things about these cases: 1. They are marathons, not sprints. By that we mean that these cases take on average 2-4 years to resolve and the time between when you first call a lawyer and a lawsuit is filed if there’s a good case is about six months. That’s because all of the relevant medical records must be gathered and reviewed by an expert physician who is willing to state that malpractice occurred. 2. Even in the most obvious cases of malpractice, you can bet that the insurance company will try to fight the case. Doctors win 80% of the cases that go to trial in Cook County and in other counties they never lose. So don’t be surprised that the case will take some time and make sure the law firm you hire can demonstrate lots of success in these cases.
Beyond that, it’s important to know what medical malpractice is. In plain English it’s when a medical provider screws up AND causes a major, permanent injury. For cases that go to trial it can cost a lawyer around $100,000.00 in expenses. So if there isn’t a catastrophic result then it’s usually not worth pursuing. By catastrophic we mean death, becoming paralyzed, brain damage, severe nerve damage, going from being able to work to permanently disabled, requiring constant medical care, etc. It’s awful to say, but also honest to say that a physician can screw up badly and get away with it if there isn’t a bad result.
Sadly a medical provider can get away with being negligent if you can’t prove that the bad result wouldn’t have happened anyway. For example, if they fail to diagnose pancreatic cancer in a 90 year old and that person dies, the defense would be that at that age you have almost no life expectancy and couldn’t get treatment for cancer that severe. Like I said, insurance companies ruthlessly fight these cases. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a strong law firm in your corner.
It’s also important to know what malpractice is not. A woman called me upset that her doctor had spoken too loudly in the office about her medical condition. A man was frustrated because his doctor was rude to him. Another caller wasn’t happy that his doctor would no longer prescribe pain medications because he missed an appointment. None of these examples are medical malpractice, they are customer service issues. If you think your doctor has behaved in an inappropriate way you should file a complaint against them with the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulations as they license and discipline medial providers.
I hope this basic explanation clears up some myths. We know and work with the best medical malpractice lawyers in Illinois. If you would like a free consultation or a referral, call us any time at (312) 346-5320.