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It’s a question asked by most anyone involved in a case of medical malpractice: how much is my case worth? With the time, expense and stress that goes in to a case, it is understandable to want to know a cases’ worth even when your main goal is to prevent a similar medical error from happening to a different patient in the future.
Unfortunately, there is not a “formula” for calculating the value of a claim and, in fact, the worth of a case depends on a slew of different factors. These include, but are not limited to, jurisdiction, severity, life expectancy, income loss, future treatment or pre-existing conditions. Here’s the lowdown on some of the factors that can make or break the worth of your medical malpractice case.
Essentially, it comes down to economic and non-economic damages. However, both can be complicated to determine.
Economic damages or “specific” damages, refer to more actual, measurable losses, such as lost earnings, future earnings or to expenses incurred as a result of an injury, such as medical costs, co-payments and insurance costs. Lost earnings and medical costs are more specific and concrete figures and are easier to calculate. However, with medical costs they can become problematic as doctors may disagree about the necessary medical treatments needed. And since treatments costs differently, this can alter the claim cost. Future earnings are where it gets really tricky. Without knowing the remaining numbers of working years a person has or what those years earnings would offer, future earnings are more speculative and harder to predict in advance. As a result, in many malpractice cases an economist will testify to try and establish a financial harm.
Non-economic damages or “general” damages, on the other hand, are not measurable. Meaning the damages cannot be calculated or added up with documented bills and receipts and are non-monetary and not readily quantifiable losses. Examples of non-economic damages include loss of consortium (the inability to have normal marital relations, sexually and emotionally), pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and disability, just to name a few. Again, these damages are highly subjective and vary from case to case. Punitive damages are not allowed in Illinois malpractice cases, but it does seem that the more egregious the error, the higher the non-economic damages are.
The location where the incident took place also counts. Bigger counties like Cook County are more likely to yield higher reward than smaller southern counties such as Urbana or Winnebago. This can be due politics or doctor liability by county. Some rural counties in Illinois have not had a medical malpractice case in a number of years.
Lastly, in any type of case, choosing the right lawyer for your type of case greatly influences the worth of your case. If the representing law firm has a positive and proven track record as well as resources, cases often will settle for a higher amount than they might otherwise. Based on the facts of your case, an experienced lawyer will know which expert witnesses can be vital importance as well as where to file for the best verdict possible. While $4 million is a big number for a case, if a lawyer feels pressure to take that offer when the case is really worth $15 million, they are doing a bad job for you. In our opinion there are really only around ten law firms in Illinois with the track record to get you the most money that a case can be worth.
Medical malpractice suits have the potential to get complicated quickly. Seeking the most experienced and successful lawyers helps ensure you receive the best settlement possible. The compensation does not undo the harm caused by a health care provider, but it can provide much needed medical and personal care for someone injured by a medical provider. If you’d like our help in finding the right lawyer for your unique case, please contact us any time.