Medical professionals save the lives of patients every day. But, unfortunately, some patients suffer serious consequences due to the medical negligence of a healthcare professional. Medical errors, surgical errors, medication errors, misdiagnoses, birth injuries, and other medical mistakes can have devastating consequences for patients and be grounds for medical malpractice lawsuits.Medical malpractice is a complex area, and the laws surrounding these cases can confuse people. You might not know if you can seek compensation or are curious about your rights. An experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer has the necessary qualifications to answer any questions you may have and let you know if you have a valid medical malpractice claim.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional commits negligence. Medical negligence is when a healthcare provider fails to act in accordance with what a reasonably competent provider would do. You can hold doctors, nurses, hospitals, healthcare facilities, and hospital workers liable for medical malpractice.Patients file between 15,000 and 19,000 new claims against healthcare workers every year. To have a valid case, you need to prove the doctor or nurse had a duty of care. You hired their services, and they agreed to offer their services. The provider has to have failed to meet the quality of care. As a result, the negligence led to your injuries. You need to prove your condition worsened and the decline in health caused considerable damage. Damages can include constant pain, disability, suffering, and death. If you believe you or a loved one was a victim of medical malpractice, consider consulting with a medical malpractice lawyer. There are time limits for filing medical malpractice lawsuits. If you miss the deadline, you will most likely miss the opportunity to seek compensation for your damages.
What Is Not Medical Malpractice?
Not every treatment or surgery delivers the expected results. Even though a procedure is unsuccessful, negligence might not have occurred. Patients cannot sue a healthcare worker simply if they do not feel satisfied with the results. They need to prove the elements of a medical malpractice case exist. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can review the details of your case to see if you have a valid medical malpractice claim.
Types of Medical Malpractice Cases
A surgeon or technician can make a medical error in a variety of ways. Examples of medical malpractice cases include:
- Patient abandonment. A few patients have had their doctors end their doctor-patient relationship suddenly without a valid reason. The person may not have received adequate notice to obtain a replacement provider to help them. Patient abandonment is considered a breach of duty as it can cause an illness or injury to worsen.
- Misdiagnosis. Around 12 million people in the United States receive an incorrect diagnosis. The medical provider may have failed to get accurate information or they might tell a patient they have a specific disease or condition, but the problem is something else.
- Premature discharge. Premature discharge is when a hospital releases a patient sooner than it should. Overcrowded or understaffed medical facilities are more likely to discharge early. Medical malpractice occurs if the hospital does not stabilize the person's condition, diagnose, or provide the appropriate treatment before discharging the patient.
- Infections. Between 2 percent and 4 percent of patients get a surgical site infection within 30 days of undergoing a procedure. An infection could be the result of the body's poor reaction to the operation, or the surgeon using unclean tools. Surgeons have a responsibility to use sterile equipment, and nurses should check the patient regularly for signs of infection.
- Anesthesia errors. The anesthesiologist might fail to teach the patient about the possible risks or review their medical history. You could have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit if the medical provider delayed the anesthesia or gave the incorrect amount during surgery.
What Type of Lawyer Do You Need?
Medical malpractice is one type of personal injury claim, and personal injury is a broad category. Therefore, you should find a lawyer who focuses on the area of medical malpractice. A medical malpractice lawyer can take you through the legal processes involved with medical malpractice lawsuits, including reaching a fair settlement or taking your case to court, if necessary.Since medical malpractice is a complex area of law, you will want to find a medical malpractice lawyer who has plenty of years of experience and who can connect with you on a personal level.
Advantages of Hiring One of Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Having an advocate can make a big difference in a medical malpractice lawsuit. You can gain several advantages in your case.Some benefits include:
- Meet deadlines. You need to file your claim before you run out of time. The statute of limitations limits for medical malpractice claims differs in each state. In Illinois, medical malpractice victims have two years from the date they discovered the medical malpractice to file a medical malpractice claim. There are several exceptions. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can work with you to ensure you file all the necessary documents on time.
- Handle insurance companies. Insurance companies tend to use certain tactics to reduce how much they have to pay when someone makes a claim. Some of them use pressure or intimidation. A Chicago medical malpractice lawyer can deal with an insurer and protect you from unfair settlement offers.
- Build a strong case. Medical malpractice lawyers know how to gather evidence and counter the defense's arguments. Not many medical malpractice cases make it to trial, but the chances of success lower significantly if a lawsuit goes to the courtroom. An experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer has the ability to present a convincing argument in front of a judge and jury.
- Prevent mistakes. The process of building a medical malpractice case is complex and involves a lot of paperwork. Someone is likely to make a mistake if they are unfamiliar with the process. Errors can create setbacks or cost an injured patient their case. Attorneys avoid oversights and get you fair compensation.
- Save you time. Filing a medical malpractice claim and building a case becomes time-consuming. Researching how to proceed with each phase of a lawsuit can take hours. Lawyers do the legal work so you can focus on your recovery. You can receive regular updates about the progress of your medical malpractice case.
What to Expect From a Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The consultation is a crucial time for your lawyer to know more about your situation. During a consultation, your attorney will ask about your medical condition before and after treatment, and have you explain why you believe you or your loved one is a victim of medical malpractice.You should bring all of your medical documents. They contain the facts of your diagnosis and treatment plan. You can get the necessary paperwork from your doctors. You should also write down what you can remember and bring the notes to the consultation. Your lawyers will want to review the information and ask questions. During the meeting, you can ask any questions you may have. You can learn more about fees and the attorney's qualifications. Afterward, the lawyer can determine if medical negligence occurred and if you have a valid case.
Common Medical Malpractice Defenses
Your medical professional might argue that your injuries are not the result of a medical error. Their care met the standard quality the profession has to uphold. Healthcare workers may also try to shift the blame onto the patient as well.To prove medical malpractice, you will have to prove that the injury would not have occurred had the medical professional not acted carelessly. So, a physician could remove liability if they can prove the patient withheld information about their medical history. Illinois has a Good Samaritan Law which generally protects people who aid those in medical distress. Nurses and doctors might be able to avoid a lawsuit even if something goes wrong during an emergency. However, they still owe the injured person a duty of care. In Illinois, the statute of limitations period usually begins after the victim discovers the injury. The doctor could use the time limit as a technical defense if they prove the patient learned of the malpractice at a previous point in time
Before a treatment or procedure, a doctor or physician must make patients aware of possible benefits and risks. Illinois medical malpractice law states that medical professionals should also let you know of potential alternatives. The information is known as informed consent.The purpose of informed consent is to allow patients to decide if they want to follow through with an operation or treatment. However, some emergencies do not require informed consent before treating a person. Additionally, doctors generally do not need to tell someone about all the risks involved. They typically only mention the ones they find necessary. You can hold a physician liable for medical malpractice if another competent doctor would have disclosed the probability of an unfavorable outcome. However, you must also show that you would have made a different decision if you had been aware of all the potential risks.
Can You Sue if You Signed a Consent Form?
Many procedures have the patient sign a consent form. A consent form ensures the patient knew of all the possibilities and agreed to the operation. The paperwork helps limit medical malpractice claims. However, consent forms do not always waive liability, even if you sign one.You could prove the document had poor wording, and you did not fully understand the possible risks. Many doctors might be aware of the potentially high risks with specific procedures. If the form does not identify a known side effect, you could have grounds to file a claim of medical negligence. The consent form could also have had incorrect information. The paperwork might have reported a complication with a low percentage of occurring. However, the likelihood of the complication is known to be higher. Another reason a consent form may not waive liability is if a medical professional pressures the patient. A person cannot be under duress when they provide a signature. Additionally, the patient should be mentally competent at the time the document is signed. An experienced Chicago malpractice lawyer can help you determine whether medical negligence caused your injuries and if your medical provider can be held accountable.
Is a Hospital Liable for a Doctor's Mistake?
While hospitals can be a liable party, you usually cannot hold them liable for a doctor's medical errors. In most cases, doctors operate as independent contractors. You would need to sue the doctor directly instead of the hospital. However, a couple of exceptions exist.One way you can hold a hospital responsible is if the facility did not make the doctor's independent contractor status clear. Usually, admission forms inform patients of the non-employee relationship. However, the hospital does not have the opportunity to make the patient aware during emergencies. Therefore, you can hold the facility accountable for an emergency room doctor's medical negligence. Another exception is if the hospital provides an incompetent doctor with staff privileges. The healthcare facility should have known the doctor became dangerous to patients. You should speak to a medical malpractice lawyer to know which parties you can sue
Statutes for Fatal Medical Malpractice Injuries
In some cases, the actions or inactions of medical providers actions have caused a victim's death. Every state has laws regarding what damages the surviving family can recover. Survival statutes can apply to a medical malpractice claim.Living family members or the estate can recover the damages in the time between the initial incident and the patient's death. Survival statutes would allow the family to recover compensation the patient would have received if they had lived. Recoverable medical malpractice damages usually include medical bills and missed wages. A patient's death would result in reimbursement under wrongful death statutes as well. The statutes allow the deceased's family to obtain compensation for future monetary loss. A settlement would include the person's projected future earnings as well as funeral expenses. The court may consider non-economic damages as well. An example of one would be the loss of consortium. Illinois does not place damage caps on non-economic damages in cases of medical malpractice. Having an experienced Chicago medical malpractice lawyer on your side can help you get the compensation you deserve if you have lost a loved one due to medical malpractice.
Certificate of Merit
Before you can file an Illinois medical malpractice claim, you need to submit a certificate of merit. This document is a statement from a licensed medical professional confirming that the defendant deviated from the standard of care and your claim of medical malpractice has merit.To get a certificate of merit, you must have another competent physician review your medical records or the medical records of your loved one. Once the medical expert provides the statement, your lawyer files the certificate. Then, you can proceed to seek compensation via a medical malpractice case.
Can You Sue After the Case Ends?
A majority of medical malpractice lawsuits end in a pre-trial settlement. Some people do not discover they could have received more in damages until after a case resolves. Unfortunately, once you agree to a settlement, you cannot reopen the claim again.Since medical malpractice cases are civil suits, the injured party has to sign a release form. Afterward, the other side can send you your compensation as a lump sum or a structured settlement. The form waives the defendant from liability in the future. You can only sue the same defendant for a different incident. You might be able to reopen the case if you discover another party is responsible for your injuries. You should have your lawyer help you understand the full extent of your losses before you sign anything. If you suspect you or your loved one was a victim of medical malpractice, contact one of our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers today. Our legal team can review the details of your case to determine whether you have a valid claim and, if so, file the necessary paperwork before time runs out.