Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits are unique as compared to other injury cases like car accidents in many ways. They are harder to win, they are much more complex and unlike a car accident lawsuit that can be filed in a day or two if you have a police report, a medical malpractice lawsuit usually takes at least six months to investigate and pull together.
As a result, if you call a lawyer looking to hire them for a medical malpractice case and only have a month before the statute of limitations expires, it will be very difficult to find a good firm to take your case.
The reason it takes so long to investigate a case is because there are usually tens of thousands of pages of medical records to go through when you sustain a serious injury and often they are from numerous medical providers. We have to request records from those providers which can itself take 30-60 days.
For example, in a recent case we are investigating after a client had heart and kidney problems after a surgical error, there are 11 different medical providers we have asked to get records from. He had a week long hospital stay which alone will likely result in thousands of pages to review. A full internal review can’t be done until all of the records are received. After that, if the case seems to have merit, we then send the records to outside, independent medical experts for their analysis.
You can’t file a lawsuit without an affidavit that a medical provider believes malpractice has happened. In some cases you want to have opinions from more than one expert. In a birth injury case we are involved with we needed to have an expert discuss the actions of the nursing staff and another discuss what the doctor did.
So it’s possible that you could have had a great case, but if a lawyer doesn’t think there is enough time to investigate it, they will decline to get involved.
So you can certainly help yourself if you have medical records to give to a lawyer right away. That doesn’t guarantee they will look at it. The closer the time limits to sue are, the less likely they will. But I’ve seen cases where someone had the records and about two months left to sue and they were able to get a lawyer because they also had a big injury.
Bonus tip: Don’t wait to call a lawyer until you have the records. The sooner you call the better. And many law firms can facilitate getting your files faster than you can.
If you have any questions or want to speak to a lawyer for free, call us at 312-346-5320 or fill out our contact form.