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A very nice woman contacted me about a possible medical malpractice lawsuit. She had a previous breast implant surgery and was now in a lot of pain due to scar tissue building up. She told me that she believed the doctor would settle quickly because he had insurance and wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to his reputation.
I get similar calls for people who want to sue huge companies like Amazon, McDonalds, etc. They will tell me that the company will settle because they are worth billions.
In the words of that famous commercial which I think is for car insurance, “That’s not how any of this works!”
Insurance companies and big corporations don’t just give money away. Might they pay someone $1,500 to make a headache go away? At times, sure. But if you are looking for real money, you need the facts on your side.
When it comes to settling a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois, there are typically two things you need in your favor: 1. Provable negligence. 2. Major injuries.
When it comes to provable negligence, that’s not just showing that you were harmed by a doctor or they messed up, but also showing that their mistake was against the standard of care and caused you a harm that you wouldn’t have otherwise suffered. By that I mean, if your doctor nicks your colon in a colonoscopy, that is a mistake, but it’s a risk of that procedure. If they tell you on October 1 that you don’t have cancer, but you learn on October 10th that you have stage four cancer, it’s a screw up, but not one that will make a difference in your ultimate outcome. In other words, that ten day delay won’t change anything.
As for major injuries, let’s say you go to a hospital with chest pain and they send you home saying you are fine. That night you have more pain and go to a different hospital where they discover an aneurysm that is about to burst. Emergency surgery saves your life. That first hospital was negligent, but their error didn’t cause a major injury. Even if you have a surgical error that causes you to miss three months of work, the value of that case isn’t much. No matter the case, it costs a lot to bring a lawsuit because you have to pay for experts. A lot of cases cost $100,000.00 or more to go to trial. Insurance companies of course know this, so generally they don’t pay much for minor injuries because they know that no lawyer is going to spend 100k in hopes of recovering 150k for a client.
This doesn’t mean there are never five and low six figure malpractice settlements in Illinois. What it does mean though is finding an attorney to take on a case like this can be challenging. When push comes to shove, doctors win more than 80% of cases that go to trial. So most lawyers we know are very selective in the cases they take on.
Cases that do settle tend to be ones that have very big injuries. Death, brain damage, permanent disability, etc. Those aren’t guaranteed wins, but you have a better chance of getting an insurance company to offer money if they think you can also prove negligence.
I don’t write any of this to discourage you, but rather to be honest about how most cases seem to go. Please call us any time for a free consultation to see if you have a case. There is never a fee to pursue a claim unless a recovery is made for you.