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There’s no asset more important or more valuable than your health. When your well-being or that of a loved one is compromised because of the carelessness or misconduct of a medical practitioner, you deserve to be fairly compensated for the resulting injuries, failing health, or pain and suffering.
We trust doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to exercise the utmost skill and care when delivering treatment, yet mistakes are an unfortunate reality of the medical industry. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 200,000 people in the U.S. die each year as the result of medical malpractice, from misdiagnosis incidents to pharmaceutical errors. And many more are left with significant injuries or illnesses, some of which have permanent and life-altering impacts.
Medical malpractice law refers to specific pieces of legislation that impact healthcare practitioners who are accused to failing to provide care that aligns with the medical field’s accepted standard of care.
Malpractice lawsuits are a type of civil case (versus a criminal case), although there are some extreme cases of malpractice that may also be considered criminal in nature.
Our personal injury lawyers frequently receive questions concerning what constitutes medical malpractice. Each state has slightly different legal definitions, but in Illinois, medical malpractice is defined as a case involving a physician or another healthcare professional (or healthcare institution) who commits a breach in the standard of care when providing treatment to a patient, ultimately resulting in some form of harm, injury or even death.
Another key definition concerns the “standard of care,” which Illinois law defines as the generally-accepted standards and practices that are in place throughout the medical community. If a doctor or another healthcare professional fails to provide the care or treatment that another medical professional would utilize under the same circumstances, then this may be considered a failure to meet the standard of care.
Medical malpractice and medical negligence are two very similar terms. Medical negligence is generally unintentional and it typically involves inaction or a failure to take the appropriate action. A medical malpractice case falls under the umbrella of professional negligence. Medical negligence is usually considered a form of malpractice.
Instances of medical malpractice occur across all areas of healthcare and with all types of healthcare providers, from hospital workers and private doctors to dentists and chiropractors. Some of the most common types of medical malpractice cases our Chicago personal injury attorneys handle include, but are not limited to:
Sadly, many people who have suffered or lost a loved one due to medical malpractice in Illinois never have the opportunity to obtain compensation. This is where an experienced medical malpractice attorney can assist. We work with clients to secure settlements and jury awards.
Attorneys see many different circumstances surrounding cases that ultimately lead to legal action. Some of the most common causes of malpractice include:
Medical professionals and institutions, such as hospitals and private practices, typically carry medical malpractice insurance policies, which offer coverage in the event of a lawsuit.
The insurance company typically covers some or all of the financial award in the event that a jury rules in favor of the plaintiff at trial.
Medical malpractice may be investigated by your lawyer or your law firm’s private investigation team in connection with your civil claim. But, in addition to this, a medical professional may also be investigated by others, such as the state medical board. If allegations of malpractice are found to have merit, then sanctions may be imposed. In some cases, a practitioner’s license may be revoked.
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More than 8,000 medical malpractice payment reports were made against Illinois medical professionals between 1990 and 2003, according to the state of Illinois. Yet it’s estimated that only 2 percent of medical malpractice victims actually seek compensation.
This means that hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents may have been able to recover damages during this period but failed to do so, either because they didn’t realize they were eligible to file suit, did not know or they felt intimidated by the process.
When a medical practitioner makes an error that leads to injury or death, they can and should be held legally responsible. This is where Phillips Law Offices can help.
Injuries and harm from medical malpractice routinely have devastating effects on patients, from deteriorating health to permanent disability.
In addition to the obvious health impacts, medical malpractice victims and their loved ones must often grapple with overwhelming medical bills, the financial strain of lost wages, and physical and psychological pain.
When you’re struggling to cope with the aftermath of a medical mistake, your number one priority should be healing and recovery – not worrying about how you’ll pay your bills.
At Phillips Law Offices, our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys have successfully assisted injured individuals and their families for more than 65 years. As one of the top law firms in Illinois and the Midwest, our vast wealth of knowledge and resources helps us obtain compensation and justice in even the most complex medical malpractice cases. In addition to economic compensation, our clients may also be eligible to recover non-economic damages such as compensation for pain and suffering, disability, and disfigurement.
Medical malpractice lawsuits provide injured people with the financial support and dignity they deserve, while motivating doctors, nurses, and hospitals to deliver better care. If you believe that an Illinois doctor or healthcare provider is responsible for injuries or ill health sustained by you or a loved one, our elite team of Chicago medical malpractice lawyers may be able to help.
We also deal in a number of other practice areas, such as personal injury cases from car accidents and on-the-job accidents. Call us today at (312) 346-4262 or contact us online to discuss your legal options in a free evaluation of your case.
Medical malpractice happens when a medical professional’s negligence leads to the deterioration of a patient’s medical condition, additional injury to the patient, or the patient’s wrongful death. If you have suffered harm at the hands of a medical professional, you may be entitled to seek legal damages with the help of our medical malpractice lawyers.
Offered here are the answers to a number of frequently asked questions about medical malpractice. These are general, introductory answers, but if you are yourself a victim of medical malpractice, you’ll need to seek the specific advice pertaining to your own circumstances by consulting an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney.
Usually, the answer to that question is “No.” One of the conditions you must agree to when you accept a settlement is that you will not pursue additional legal action. After a malpractice incident, a doctor’s or hospital’s insurance company may offer you a settlement that is far below the amount your lawsuit would actually be worth. In the Chicago area, always speak first with an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney before you do anything that might impair your ability to recover the maximum possible compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Proving that a doctor was negligent in a way that injured a patient may require the help of a medical authority who can testify – as an expert witness – that you would not have been injured if you had been treated by a competent physician in the same situation. In order to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must be able to establish that the allegations listed here are true:
In Illinois, if you sustain a medical malpractice injury because your doctor was negligent, speak to an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney regarding your legal rights and options. In this state, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim – in most cases – is two years from the date of the injury. However, the so-called “discovery rule” allows a lawsuit to be filed within two years after the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. Regardless of when you discover the injury, there is a total limit of four years from the date when the malpractice occurred.
The law allows several very precisely limited exceptions to these deadlines. There are exceptions, for example, for foreign objects left in the patient or when healthcare professionals fraudulently conceal their malpractice. If the injury victim was under age eighteen when the medical malpractice happened, the Illinois statute of limitations is eight years from the date of the injury or the date that the injured person turns age twenty-two, whichever comes first.
The answer to that question is almost always “Yes,” because when you sign a consent form, you are acknowledging the risks of the treatment you expect to receive, and you are assuming that your doctor will provide the accepted professional “standard of care.” A malpractice claim is – among other things – an allegation that the accepted professional standard of medical care was not provided. Thus, you may still file a medical malpractice claim if you were injured by your doctor’s failure to provide the accepted standard of care.
The accepted medical “standard of care” includes the routines, procedures, and processes widely and generally accepted by the professional medical community regarding the evaluation, care, and treatment of a medical condition. If a physician, a nurse, another medical professional, or a facility like a hospital or a hospice causes a patient to be injured by not meeting the accepted professional standard of care, the patient may have the grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Most doctors working at hospitals are considered independent contractors rather than employees, so in most cases, you will not be able to sue a hospital where medical malpractice happens. However, a hospital may be liable for a doctor’s actions if the hospital did not make it clear to the patient that the doctor was not an employee. “Making it clear” may be impossible in emergency situations, so hospitals sometimes may be legally responsible for an ER physician’s medical malpractice.
When a nurse does not fulfill his or her professional duties in the way that a normally competent nurse in the same circumstances would fulfill those duties, and when that failure to fulfill duties leads to negligence that injures a patient, the hospital may be liable for a nurse’s negligence if the nurse was a hospital employee who was performing a job duty when the injury occurred.
When a patient has been injured by medical malpractice, three types of awards may be available if the lawsuit prevails. “Special” damages may be paid for quantifiable and verifiable economic losses such as medical expenses and wages lost because of days missed from work.
“General” damages compensate for the suffering that malpractice entails – physical and mental pain, emotional suffering, the loss of the “enjoyment of life,” and possibly the loss of consortium. “Punitive” damages are intended as punishment for a doctor or a medical facility for egregious conduct, although such awards are rare in medical malpractice cases in Illinois.
If someone dies due to medical malpractice, the deceased person’s family may pursue a wrongful death claim and may recover damages that compensate for pain, suffering, and the loss of the deceased person’s income and future earnings capacity. Damages for the loss of companionship and loss of consortium are also sometimes paid to surviving family members in wrongful death cases. In any of these situations, let an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney provide the specific legal advice that medical malpractice injury victims and their families will need.