Common Questions

Medical malpractice cases are extremely complex. They often involve operations that delicately delve into our most vulnerable body parts. This is why the consequences can be so severe when they go wrong. Now, we want to illuminate some critical questions that many victims across Chicago and the State have concerning this subject.

What Exactly Is Medical Malpractice in Illinois?

Medical malpractice happens when a patient is injured because the healthcare professional did not provide care up to the appropriate standard. Typically, the offenders are doctors, nurses, or even the hospital, just to name a few. However, they can be other parties. While the forms of injury are endless, the forms of medical malpractice lawsuits are generally very similar. You must show that there was a patient-provider relationship, that the provider did not give you adequate care, that the deficient treatment injured you, and that the injury caused you damages. There are other things you must do, but this is the normal confines of an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Should I Do if a Doctor or Other Healthcare Provider Negligently Injures Me?

In the panic and confusion following a medical mishap, it can be hard to focus on what you have to do. Countless checklists and forms exist to guide harmed patients but it still is not easy to do everything that you need to in order to protect yourself and your rights. This is why you need to contact a skilled medical malpractice lawyer and tell him or her the circumstances of the incident. That lawyer will probably also want to meet with you and before the meeting you should get and bring your medical records. Bringing your records will help narrow in on what you have to do in your case. Also, contacting an attorney will allow that person to do all the busy and complex work that needs to be done, leaving you valuable time to recover. During your recovery, avoid speaking to the people that treated you, their attorneys, or their insurance companies. This could jeopardize your case.

How Do Juries Decide Illinois Medical Malpractice Cases?

The ultimate test of any medical malpractice case is whether or not the medical professional lived up to the relevant standard of care. Generally, this standard is derived using local, contemporary references. If a case ends up going to trial, medical malpractice attorneys will attempt to convince in jury of their client’s position through: opening arguments, closing arguments, direct examinations, cross examinations, evidence presentation, expert testimony, and jury instructions. Presenting cases to juries involves a combination of facts and persuasion but ultimately it is in their hands. In reaching their decision, they must decide if the defendant committed malpractice by a preponderance of the evidence standard, which means more likely than not.

What if I Did Not Consent to the Medical Procedure?

As medical procedures become incredibly more complicated in Illinois and other stages, the issue of consent rises to the surface of importance in the patient-provider relationship. Doctors and other healthcare professionals cannot proceed with treatment unless the patient understands the procedures that will be performed as well as the risks that those procedures implicate. This is referred to as informed consent. In certain circumstances, such as emergencies, medical professionals do not need to obtain informed consent; however, in most circumstances, medical professionals need to gather informed consent. When determining what to tell patients, doctors should consider whether other doctors in similar situations would tell the patient about the risk as well as whether disclosure would change the patient’s mind.

Is the Hospital Responsible Too?

Many victims of medical malpractice in Illinois ask us if the hospital where they received treatment could also be liable. Yes, it is entirely possible that the hospital where you were treated could be legally responsible for the medical malpractice injuries that you sustained. Often, the doctors (and the doctor’s staff) that work in hospitals have no relationship to the hospital. However, if the patient reasonably believes that the doctor is an agent of the hospital, then the latter could be on the hook for the damages that result from the former’s negligent care. The entire issue rests heavily on the facts and circumstances of your particular incident.

What if I am Injured by Something a Doctor Prescribed to Me?

More than ever, physicians are prescribing medications and devices to their patients. And these come with serious risks due to their complexity. The makers of medical devices and drugs have the duty to warn patients of all material risks that their products come with. However, in some instances, manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies can relieve their duty by informing the doctors of the inherent dangers, and then the doctors have the task of informing the patients. Thus, if a patient is harmed because of a medication or device or because of the medication’s or device’s insufficient instructions, then he or she may have a claim against the physician or manufacturer.

What Do I Need to Do Before My Illinois Medical Malpractice Trial?

Cases don’t just start at opening argument. Before that time, there is a lot of work that goes into building a case: investigation, research, communications, drafting, and much more. Putting on a trial requires an expert blend of law and fact that really only comes with experience. For instance, Illinois law requires plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to obtain a certificate from a physician that the case has merit. See 735 ILCS 5/2-622. If you don’t know this or the many other intricate requirements of medical malpractice law in Illinois, your recovery could be at risk.

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Case in Illinois?

Like other kinds of cases, Illinois medical malpractice actions are controlled by statutes of limitations. You might consider these ticking clocks with respect to your suit because if they go off before you file, then you cannot even bring it to court. Laws put strict time limits on your right to sue someone for medical injuries because evidence fades with time and it is easier to try the matter closer to when it happened. Here is the relevant law for medical malpractice actions in Illinois:

735 ILCS 5/13-212 “Except as provided in Section 13-215 of this Act, no action for damages for injury or death against any physician, dentist, registered nurse or hospital duly licensed under the laws of this State, whether based upon tort, or breach of contract, or otherwise, arising out of patient care shall be brought more than 2 years after the date on which the claimant knew, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have known, or received notice in writing of the existence of the injury or death for which damages are sought in the action . . . .”

As you can see, adults get two years to file. If the victim is a minor, then he or she gets eight years or until the person turns twenty-two, whichever happens first. Also, there are various exceptions to these rules, especially for fraudulent concealment. Therefore, it is extremely important to speak with a lawyer once you realize you have been injured by a medical provider to figure out how soon you must sue the relevant party.

The foregoing sections were meant only to review the most common questions in Illinois medical malpractice cases. It does not exhaust every issue and demand of this litigation. However, if you give us a call, we can describe what your case requires and what you need to do step by step.

For a free consultation about your medical malpractice case, contact Joel Gould Law Offices today or call 773-281-8744. The Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Joel Gould Law Offices handle cases in Chicago and throughout Illinois. They also work closely with some of the best personal injury attorneys across the country on cases in other states and jurisdictions.

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