MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

How do I find out if my injuries were caused by medical malpractice?

By having us order all of your medical records and then having those records reviewed by the appropriate medical professionals.    An experienced medical malpractice lawyer often knows what to look for in the medical records to see if medical malpractice occurred.  If the injury is serious enough, the records are then sent to the appropriate board certified doctors for review.  If they find find that the doctor or hospital deviated from the appropriate standard of care, then you may have a medical malpractice case. 

What type of injuries do you need to have in order to have a medical malpractice case?

Serious life altering injuries or death.   The cost of bringing a medical malpractice case is substantial.  For that reason, a case involving relatively minor injuries will not be worth the time and expense involved, even if the doctor was clearly at fault.   Serious injuries include operations on the wrong area of the body,  unnecessary amputations, injuries that cause a stroke, or loss of limb.    Medical negligence during the birth of a baby can cause profound injuries, such as cerebral palsy.    Parents are usually not told that their child’s injuries could have been prevented and in fact, parents may not discover the medical negligence until years later. 

How long do you have to file a medical malpractice case in Illinois?

It depends on many different factors.   For adults, the statute of limitations could be as short as one year if your claim is against the state or a local governmental agency.   In many cases, adults will have 2 years from the date the injury occurred to file suit.  Sometimes, the statute of limitations may be extended in cases where the injury caused by the malpractice is not discovered until a later date.  This is known as the Discovery Rule.  However, Illinois has a four-year statute of repose on medical malpractice meaning that the discovery rule will not extend the statute of limitations beyond four years.  With regard to minors, the rules are different.    Someone who is under the age of 18 when the malpractice occurs may have up to 8 years from the date of injury or before their 22nd birthday, which ever occurs first.   Thus, in cases of birth injuries, the parents would have until the child turns 8 years old to bring a claim.   There are different rules that apply to federal employers and the foregoing is not meant to be an exhaustive list of all the different statute of limitations and notice requirement that may be applicable.    If you or someone you know believe that they have been a victim of medical malpractice, the sooner you contact a lawyer the better.   Filing a medical malpractice suit takes time and requires consultations with a doctor to review the case.  This means that the lawyer must obtain copies of the records.   The process of obtaining and reviewing medical records can take months.  Therefore, you should not wait if you believe you have a medical malpractice case.  Contact a lawyer immediately.

Will the doctor lose his license or job if I file a medical malpractice case?

Most likely not.   Unless there is very egregious conduct, usually a single act of negligence will not result in a doctor losing his license.  Whether a doctor should lose his or her license is not decided in a civil suit but instead, by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation.   Sometimes a medical malpractice case may trigger a review by the IDPR and this could lead to the doctor being suspended or revoked.    The filing of a lawsuit may help a hospital correct errors and change procedures that leads to better care in the future.  

I signed consent forms before my procedure, will this prevent me from bringing a claim?

No.  No matter what you signed, the doctor and hospital are not allowed to commit malpractice.  The forms are important because they may warn of many of the normal complications of certain procedures.  Sometimes, complications cannot be avoided despite the best of care and the risks of these complications should be fully explained to the patient.   A doctor is not required to provide a perfect result but instead, must comply with the standard of care.

How much money is my case worth?

If you win your medical malpractice case, you may be entitled to receive money for pain and suffering, both past and future, medical bills, lost wages and disability.  Every case is different.  How strong the liability is, your age, your occupation, the jurisdiction where the malpractice occurred, the available insurance coverage, are all factors that play a role in determining case value.