An Overview of Medical Malpractice in Illinois


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If you, or someone you know, have/has suffered an injury during medical treatment, you or they may have a claim for medical malpractice. Illinois malpractice law dictates a number of requirements for bringing these types of claims as a lawsuit, including how much time an injured patient has to file that lawsuit.

If you are planning to file an Illinois malpractice claim, you should have a basic knowledge of medical malpractice in Illinois. You should also contact an Illinois malpractice attorneys. Medical malpractice cases can become very complicated, and an attorney with experience in this field will know how to navigate through the process, obtain expert witnesses, get your medical examinations, etc.

What is Malpractice?

Under Illinois law, medical malpractice occurs when:

1. a doctor or other healthcare professional or institution
2. breaches a standard of care when treating a patient
3. resulting in an injury or death.

The “standard of care” is the generally accepted set of standards and practices that other medical professionals would use when treating a similar patient under similar circumstances. Obviously, this requires an analysis of a number of factors, such as the patient's age, health before treatment, and the specifics of his or her condition. But, a violation of the standard of care can constitute medical negligence. This negligence must result in an injury, and the injured patient must prove that the medical professional's negligence directly caused their injuries.

What Constitutes Treatment?

People often think of “treatment” as receiving medicine to treat a disease. But “treatment” can actually include a number of things, like a diagnosis, surgery, administration of certain procedures, etc. Consequently, a misdiagnosis, botching a surgery, prescribing the wrong medication, or failing to administer a certain procedure could all constitute medical malpractice. Basically, if the action is taken by a doctor or other healthcare professional or institution in a medically negligent way and results in an injury, it will probably be enough to constitute an actionable incident, meaning that you can sue for medical malpractice.

Statute of Limitations and Statute of Repose for Medical Malpractice

A statute of limitations and statute of repose are designed to require a person who wants to bring a lawsuit (also known as the plaintiff) to start that case within a certain amount of time or lose the right to do so. The point of these laws is to give people some period after which they can breathe easy knowing they will not be sued for an earlier incident. A statute of limitations begins to run from the point at which a plaintiff knew, or should have known, of the injury for which that plaintiff wants to sue. A statute of repose, on the other hand, runs from the date the injury actually occurred, regardless of whether the plaintiff knew or should have known of the injury at that point.

According to Illinois malpractice law, the patient has up to two (2) years from the date the patient knew or should have known of the injury to file a lawsuit under the statute of limitations. In addition, under no circumstances does Illinois malpractice law allow a patient to bring a lawsuit more than four (4) years after the medically negligent act occurred due to the statute of repose.

Illinois also has a special statute of limitations for patients who are minors at the time the medical malpractice occurred. Anyone under the age of 18 has up to eight (8) years to file a lawsuit, as long as the suit is filed before the patient turns 22.

There may be other deadlines to be aware of, and new requirements can be imposed by the law in the future. As a result, because of these strict limitations on when a patient may bring a suit, it is important to contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after your injury occurs.

Damages

When you file suit for medical malpractice, you are attempting to collect what are known as damages. Damages are monetary awards designed to compensate a plaintiff for injuries they suffered and expenses they incurred as a result such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and others. Currently, there are no caps on compensatory damages in Illinois, which includes money for medical bills, but so called tort-reform laws have been sweeping the country, meaning this could change at any time. Technically there are caps on non-economic damages, which compensate a victim for things such as pain and suffering, but these have been ruled unconstitutional in past court cases.

Conclusion

If you think you or someone you know has been injured by a medical professional, doctor, or medical institution, then you should contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney. They will be able to analyze the facts of your case, guide you through the process of making your claims, and help you with obtaining the assistance of other doctors to examine your injuries, treat the resulting harm, and testify on your behalf at trial.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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