Part of my job allows me to educate people in all areas of the Illinois law. Medical malpractice seems to be the trickiest to grasp, so here is a list of 39 great tidbits, in no particular order, on the law specifically for Illinois Medical Malpractice. Of course, every case is different and this is not legal advice. Always consult an attorney before making any decisions.
1. Medical Malpractice is the third leading cause of death, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
2. Just because you had a bad medical experience doesn’t mean there is a case. Many procedures are very risky in nature.
3. To win a malpractice lawsuit, you will need to be able to show negligence, resulting in further injury.
4. Symptoms of medical malpractice do not always appear right away.
5. Medical malpractice covers a wide range of medical errors. This could be in diagnosis, medication dosage, health management, treatment, surgery or aftercare.
6. In Illinois, a medical malpractice case is typically filed in the same county that the malpractice occurred in.
7. Illinois doctors are not required to carry malpractice insurance. However, most do. Those that do not carry medical malpractice insurance are required to post a sign informing patients that the doctor or doctors have no malpractice insurance.
8. Every medical malpractice case has a statute of limitations. According to Illinois malpractice law, the patient has up to two (2) years from the date they knew or should have known of the injury to file a lawsuit no more than four years from when it happened. The time limits are longer for minors.
9. On average, it will take six months for a lawyer to investigate a case. This starts from your first call. Your lawyer and you can then decide to move forward with a lawsuit or not.
10. If you feel you might have a case, it is important to document everything. Every appointment, conversation, procedure, diagnosis, and test completed should be properly documented.
11. There must be a direct link between an alleged negligence and the injuries claimed to be from the negligence.
12. The plaintiff, the person filing, has the burden of proof. This means it is their responsibility to prove there was negligence by the defending party.
13. Unfortunately, in most cases, when medical negligence suffered it is too minor and is not worth pursuing a lawsuit.
14. Birth injuries are one of the most devastating cases and, naturally, require some of the highest damage amounts.
15. Most infection cases are a result from having a medical procedure.
16. It is always a good idea to order your medical records as soon as possible.
17. Even if you signed a consent form, you might still have a case.
18. Medical malpractice cases are rarely quick cases. There is usually a delay by the insurance companies in hopes they can fight the case. Stay calm and fight the good fight.
19. With that being said, good lawyers will be aggressive to get you what you deserve in the quickest time possible. Remember, patience pays off. A case that gets you a $2 million settlement may take 18 mos. That same case could get you a settlement of $10 million settlement, but may take up to 4 years. Embrace patience.
20. Medical malpractices trials can easily last for 2-3 weeks.
21. The standard of care, or the level of care by a competent health care professional with a similar background would have provided under the same circumstances, can be very subjective and differs from location to location.
22. To have a strong medical malpractice case, you will need to have a doctor in the same area of practice certify with an affidavit that in their medical opinion malpractice did occur.
23. It’s a conflict of interest for doctors to speak ill about other doctors in their office. It is often best to seek an expert opinion from doctors out of their network.
24. Good lawyers will spend 1,000+ hours working on a medical malpractice case.
25. In medical malpractice cases, it could be doctors, nurses, hospitals, facilities and the like that are being sued. Each of these identities would need their own lawyers. Coordinating so many schedules can be a challenge so cases are often scheduled months down the road. This is often a reason for why a case may take longer than expected.
26. Young and eager attorneys, having less than ten (10) years’ experience, will gladly accept a medical malpractice case, but it is most beneficial to seek an experienced attorney.
27. Many law firms already have hired relationships with doctors and nurses to help perform initial reviews of cases.
28. While medical malpractice lawyers often handle personal injury cases, the reverse is not the same. Personal injury lawyers usually don’t handle medical malpractice cases.
29. There are very few firms that have a track-record of winning medical malpractice cases. Hiring inexperienced firms can ruin your chance of winning your case.
30. There is no legal published list stating how many times a doctor has been sued in the past or was a part of a medical malpractice settlement.
31. Veterans Administration hospitals is held liable for medical malpractice under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Still, their rules and procedures will be handled differently.
32. Cook County is known to be the most supportive in Illinois for plaintiffs to file, but the success rate for cases that go to trial is still only around 20%
33. The success for plaintiffs in smaller downstate regional counties is very low.
34. Sadly, medical malpractice cases for the elderly are hard cases to win. No matter how bad the care was their case damages are limited as their life expectancy is already short.
35. In a winning case, there is no cap as to how much can be won, but there are usually no punitive damages towards the defendant.
36. Medical malpractice attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means they can only be paid if your case wins. Under Illinois Law, lawyer fees are capped at 1/3 of the money recovered.
37. Medical malpractice cases are very expensive to bring to trial. Many attorneys will have to pay, out-of-pocket, over $100,000 in expenses for expert and court fees.
38. You hold responsibility for your own treatment. Failing to do so can be comparative negligence. This means if you found to be 50% responsible, then you may only recover 50% of the associated damages in an injury claim. If found more than 50% at fault, you will get nothing.
39. Every case is different and there is no way of outlining how much a case is worth if winning or settling.
If you have any questions or want our recommendation as to who the best Illinois malpractice attorney is for your case, please fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5320.