Your relationship with your doctor is important. If you discover that your doctor harmed you or failed to help you, it can leave you devastated, especially when a health care professional or facility refuses to provide you with information regarding what happened or remedy the issues.
We prepared the following blog to inform you about medical malpractice lawsuits—but you do not have to handle the catastrophic consequences alone. You have legal options and possible remedies. More importantly, with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer on your side, you will not have to take on this challenging legal fight alone.
With medical malpractice lawyers fighting on your behalf, they will pursue the compensation you deserve while you focus on what matters most: your health and recovery.
What Exactly Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, hospital, or other health care professional or provider neglects to provide a patient-appropriate treatment, gives substandard treatment, or omits to take appropriate action that results in the patient's harm, injury, or death.
While malpractice generally involves a medical error, there are different ways these errors happen, including through a misdiagnosis, health mismanagement, incorrect medication dosage, aftercare mistakes, or error during the actual treatment. However, under the laws, for these errors to result in a viable medical malpractice claim, the following elements exist:
A Patient-Doctor Relationship Existed
Before a patient can pursue a claim for medical malpractice, you must establish that you had a patient-doctor relationship. Generally, this relationship forms when the doctor agrees to treat the patient and the patient agrees to be treated by the doctor.
The Doctor Breached the Duty of Care
The medical profession recognizes certain standards as acceptable treatments by a reasonably prudent medical care professional under like or similar circumstances. These standards are known as the standard of care, and patients have a right to expect that their doctors and health care professionals will provide them with care consistent with these standards. If they do not, you can hold the health care professional liable for negligence.
The Health Care Professional's Negligence Led to an Injury
It is not enough to show that a medical care professional simply violated the standard of care. The patient also needs to prove that they sustained an injury that would not have occurred without negligence.
This means that an unfavorable outcome will not establish negligence. Rather, plaintiffs must show that the doctor's negligence caused their injury. If negligence did not cause the injury, no medical malpractice took place.
Substantial Damages Resulted From the Harm
Because medical malpractice lawsuits are expensive, your medical malpractice case may not be viable unless you sustained significant damages. Pursuing this suit may result in higher costs than the possible recovery.
For these reasons, before you can pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit, it needs to be established that you suffered significant losses from your injuries, such as extensive medical bills, excruciating pain, suffering, a loss of income, or a disability.
Examples of Medical Malpractice That May Lead to a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
- Failing to diagnose a medical condition or disease
- Surgery errors, including operating on the wrong body part or wrong site
- Misdiagnosing an illness or condition
- Ignoring medical lab results or misreading these results
- Prescribing improper medications or dosage
- Performing unnecessary surgery
- Providing poor aftercare or not following-up after a patient's medical treatment or procedure
- Not taking the patient's history into account before a medical procedure
- Disregarding a patient's history
- Failing to recognize a patient's symptoms
- Failing to order proper tests
- Performing actions that result in birth injuries
- Failing to warn the patient of known risks related to their treatment
Even though these are the more common examples of incidents that can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit, they do not include every situation that can give rise to medical malpractice.
If you experienced medical malpractice for a reason not indicated above, do not wait to contact a lawyer. A medical malpractice lawyer can review what happened, determine if you have a valid case, and explain your legal options.
Who Can You Hold Responsible for Your Medical Malpractice Injuries?
Many assume they can only file medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors or hospitals.
In truth, numerous parties can be held responsible for medical malpractice, including:
- Medical specialists
- Nursing home facilities
- Hospice care centers
- Physical therapists
- Rehabilitation centers
- Urgent cares
Unfortunately, determining which healthcare professional or facility caused your injuries presents challenges. If you suffered injuries following a medical procedure, work with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer to determine who caused your injuries and hold the responsible parties accountable.
The Financial Damages You Can Pursue in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
If you suffered significant harm because of medical malpractice, you might be entitled to compensation. Possible compensation divides into the following damages:
Economic damages refer to actual monetary losses that quantify easily.
- Past and current medical bills, prescription medications, hospital stays, doctor visits, and surgeries
- Ongoing, future medical care
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity
- At-home nursing care
- Domestic replacement services, such as childcare services, grocery shopping services, or cleaning services
- Rehabilitative therapy, such as vocational and physical therapy
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic damages refer to the qualitative losses that result from an accident. These losses are difficult to quantify.
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life
- Reputation loss
- Limb loss
Unlike damages awarded that make victims whole after an accident, punitive damages punish defendants for their egregious actions and deter future bad conduct by holding companies, individuals, hospitals, and others responsible for socially unacceptable actions. Before a patient can claim punitive damages, their lawyer must show that the defendant committed willful, wanton, intentional, or fraudulent conduct and directly injured the victim.
If you want to know what damages to pursue following your medical malpractice incident, reach out to a knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can review the facts of your case, figure out which damages apply, and prepare the strongest case possible to fight for your maximum compensation.
When Should You Sue for Medical Malpractice?
Your time is limited to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. According to the statute of limitations, a law that dictates the maximum amount of time you have to file a legal claim following an alleged offense, you only have two years from the date of discovery to file a medical malpractice claim in Illinois. However, exceptions may apply affecting this filing period.
Do not wait to reach out to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. A lawyer can verify how much time you have to file your legal claim and prepare and file all of your documents and paperwork with the appropriate court before time expires.
How to Protect Your Legal Rights Following a Medical Malpractice Injury?
If you sustained serious injuries in a medical malpractice incident, the last thing you want to worry about is what steps to take next or what documents to collect. To ensure your legal rights remain protected, consider doing the following:
Get to Another Health Care Professional
After a medical malpractice injury, your health is your priority. Seek another doctor as soon as possible and continue to get the medical treatment you need. In addition to supporting your physical recovery, necessary medical treatments can assist your lawyer in understanding the extent of your injuries and their repercussions in your life.
Do not continue to receive treatment from the medical professional that caused your injuries. If you return to the doctor that harmed you and they know that you are pursuing legal action against them, they may alter your medical records or otherwise minimize your chance of a successful claim.
Obtain Your Records ASAP
Get all of your medical records from the health care facility and doctor that treated you as soon as possible. This step can help prevent the medical care professional or their staff from tampering, losing, or altering any of your records and documents.
Be Careful What You Say
Although venting about medical malpractice can clear your head and release tension, do not talk about the situation with others or post anything about it on your social media accounts. Opponents may use your comments and online posts to hurt your case. Avoid posting or discussing anything about the incident.
Fight for the Justice You Deserve with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or a family member suffered extensive injuries at the hands of a doctor or medical professional, you do not have to go through this ordeal alone. With an experienced medical malpractice attorney, you can have the support and guidance you need throughout your claim.
When you hire a lawyer, they can:
- Review what happened to you in detail, determine if you have a valid legal claim, and explain your legal options.
- Answer your questions and concerns regarding the incident and the legal process.
- Investigate the incident thoroughly and gather evidence to show what happened and who was at fault.
- Hire experts, such as doctors, financial specialists, and others to validate your claim.
- Handle all the negotiations with the other side and fight for a just settlement.
- Proceed to trial if the other side is unwilling to satisfactorily compensate you, and pursue maximum monetary damages.
Do not wait to get the legal help you need after a medical malpractice injury disrupts your life. Contact a skilled and knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyer today for your free case consultation, and let your lawyer fight for your rights and the justice you deserve.