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Four Main Questions for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Illinois

By Gardi, Haught, Fischer & Bhosale LTD
July 18, 2017
Illinois Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Four Main Questions for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Illinois

By Thomas Haught

Medical malpractice can happen in an instant, but pursuing medical malpractice lawsuits in Illinois takes much longer, and is much more complicated. If you feel you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, there are a few things you need to know before you can pursue a lawsuit.

Do you have a case?

There are various requirements for a medical malpractice claim that you should be aware of before we can pursue your case. These specifically relate to the cause of the possible malpractice. In general, they should fall under one of the following reasons: failure to diagnose, an incorrect diagnosis, or a treatment that causes further illness or injury.

Are you in time?

Medical malpractice lawsuits in Illinois have a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a time period in which you are legally allowed to file a lawsuit against a health care provider. For medical malpractice lawsuits in Illinois, generally you must originate the lawsuit within two years of the malpractice. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you find a foreign object left in your body years after the surgery, or if the malpractice was fraudulently hidden somehow, an attorney may still be able to file a lawsuit on your behalf. Also, if the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the alleged malpractice, the statute of limitations may be extended.

Do you have an expert opinion?

To cut down on frivolous malpractice lawsuits, the state requires a Certificate of Merit be filed with the initial legal complaint for medical malpractice. The Certificate is an affidavit stating that a qualified medical expert believes that malpractice has been committed and that the case is therefore viable. It is specifically stated in 735 ILCS 5/2-622 that failure to file the affidavit could result in dismissal of the lawsuit.

In brief, the affidavit declares that the health professional who was consulted about the case met the following qualifications:

  • He/she was knowledgeable in the medical issues relevant to the plaintiff’s case
  • He/she practices or teaches (or has actively done so in the past six years) in the same area of health or medicine relevant to the plaintiff’s case
  • Is qualified, experienced and competent to review the case
  • He/she believes there is a “reasonable and meritorious cause” for the filing of the action.

A competent attorney will be able to help you navigate through any circumstances you may have with this, such as running out of time to file the Certificate because of the statute of limitations.

Is there a possible cap on your settlement?

In medical malpractice suits, plaintiffs seek damages in the form of monetary compensation. These are divided into economic (pertaining to employment or expenses from medical treatment that can be quantified in dollars) and non-economic (intangible damage that is difficult to quantify monetarily). These include:

  • Cost of pain and future medical treatment (economic)
  • Reimbursement for lost income/earning potential (economic)
  • Pain and suffering (noneconomic)
  • Punitive damages (usually only for egregious conduct)

Up until 2010, there were caps, or limits, in place for medical malpractice damages in Illinois: $500,000 on non-economic damages and $1M for lawsuits against a hospital or health care facility. However, in an Illinois Supreme Court case in 2010, Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, the Act mandating the caps was found invalid (735 ILCS 5/2-1706.5) and the legislature is now unable to cap non economic damages. This is good news for those, like the Lebron family, who suffered a malpractice incident during a Caesarean section and were left to care for a permanently disabled child for a lifetime.

There is no better ally on your side for a malpractice lawsuit than an attorney who is experienced and has been proven successful with representing plaintiffs in court. If you need legal advice regarding a possible case, please don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance at:847.944.9400.

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