How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

How to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Medical errors are a significant concern in the United States. A recent study published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality shows that over 250,000 people die each year because of such errors. This makes medical mistakes one of the main causes of death after cancer and heart disease.

If you suffer injuries because of a medical error, you can take legal action to seek compensation. However, to make a successful medical malpractice lawsuit, you must prove a doctor-patient relationship that subjected you to substandard care. Importantly, you must prove the link of the subpar care to the injury that caused you damages.

If you’re in this situation, a Chicago medical malpractice attorney from Malman Law can help you navigate this process. Our medical malpractice lawyers understand the ins and outs of these cases and can work with you to get the justice and compensation you deserve. Let’s explore medical errors and how legal help is paramount in filing medical malpractice lawsuits.

Elements of Medical Malpractice

In Illinois, like in many other states, medical malpractice cases involve certain key elements that need to be established to pursue a successful lawsuit. These elements determine whether the healthcare provider’s actions or omissions amount to malpractice.

  • Doctor-Patient Relationship: To begin a medical malpractice claim, the claimant must establish that a doctor-patient relationship existed. This means that you were under the care of a healthcare provider, and they had a duty to offer you proper medical care.
  • Breach of Standard Care: Medical malpractice cases rely on evidence that the healthcare provider’s actions or decisions fell below the standard of care expected in their field. In other words, they didn’t meet the reasonable standard of competence that a similar healthcare provider would in a similar situation.
  • Causation: It’s not enough to show that the healthcare provider provided substandard care. It must also be demonstrated that this substandard care directly caused the patient’s injury.
  • Injury and Damages: To have a valid malpractice claim, the patient must have suffered significant harm as a result of the substandard care. Minor inconveniences or temporary discomfort are not enough to support a malpractice case.

To prove these elements, your attorney will collaborate with qualified medical experts. They can provide opinions on whether the healthcare provider’s actions constituted negligence and caused the patient’s harm.

Causes of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can result from various factors and causes, leading to patient harm or injury. Understanding these causes is key to seeking legal recourse. Here are some common causes of medical malpractice:

  • Delayed Diagnosis or Treatment: Failing to diagnose a medical condition on time or delaying necessary treatment can lead to complications and harm to patients. A recent study found that diagnosis errors are the leading cause of serious health issues such as stroke.
  • Inadequate Training or Inexperience: Sometimes, medical professionals may lack the necessary training, experience, or skills to perform certain procedures or make accurate diagnoses. Inexperience or insufficient knowledge can result in errors.
  • Equipment Failures: Medical equipment and technology are crucial in healthcare. Malfunctions or improper use of medical devices can lead to patient harm. This includes issues with surgical instruments, imaging equipment, and monitoring devices.
  • Lack of Informed Consent: Patients should be given the opportunity to decide on the available options regarding their medical treatment. If failure to obtain proper informed consent from patients before a procedure results in injuries, victims can pursue legal recourse.
  • Overwork and Staffing Issues: Shortages in healthcare staff can put immense pressure on existing workers. Overworked healthcare professionals may not have the time or resources to provide adequate care, increasing the risk of errors.
  • Systemic Problems: In some cases, medical malpractice can be attributed to systemic problems within healthcare institutions. Poor organization, lack of standardized protocols, and inadequate supervision can contribute to errors.
  • Medication Errors: Mistakes in prescribing, administering, or dispensing medications can result in severe harm to patients. This includes issues like wrong dosages, incorrect medications, or drug interactions.
  • Inadequate Record-Keeping: Proper medical records are crucial for accurate patient care, and illegible or incomplete medical records are among the leading causes of medical errors. Inaccurate and incomplete medical records may lead to misdiagnosis and treatment errors.
  • Lack of Follow-up: After a procedure or treatment, patients often require follow-up care and monitoring. The failure to provide adequate post-treatment care can result in complications.

What is Medical Malpractice

Steps Involved in Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois requires adherence to specific steps. Victims should take the following steps when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit:

Step 1: Consultation with an Attorney

The first step is to consult with a medical malpractice attorney. Choose a lawyer who specializes in these cases and can assess whether you have a valid claim based on the law.

Step 2: Notice of Intent

In Illinois, before filing a lawsuit, a “Notice of Intent” is typically required. This document informs the healthcare provider of the intention to file a lawsuit. It includes details of the alleged malpractice.

Step 3: Filing the Lawsuit

Once the Notice of Intent has been served, and if a resolution is not reached, your attorney will file the lawsuit in the appropriate Illinois civil court. The lawsuit outlines the allegations and demands for compensation.

Illinois has a statute of limitations that sets a time limit on when you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Ensure your lawsuit is filed within three years following the injury or wrongful death. However, this timeframe may vary depending on the circumstances of your case.

Step 4: Settlement Negotiations

During the discovery phase or at any point in the legal process, settlement negotiations will occur. Your attorney will skillfully negotiate with insurance companies to win an adequate settlement on your behalf.

Step 5: Collecting Damages

If you win your case, efforts will be made to collect the awarded damages from the responsible healthcare provider’s insurance or assets. Your medical malpractice lawyer will ensure that the settlement award fairly covers your injuries and losses.

What Are the Recoverable Damages for Malpractice Claims?

Recoverable damages in medical malpractice claims are the financial compensation that a plaintiff (the injured party) may be entitled to if they can prove their case in court. The types of recoverable damages in malpractice claims include:

  • Past and future medical bills that directly relate to the malpractice injury
  • Lost wages or the inability to work
  • Physical and emotional suffering experienced due to the malpractice
  • Loss of companionship, support, and services of the injured party due to the malpractice.
  • Physical and lifestyle adjustments required as a result of the injury
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Wrongful death damages

In Illinois, medical malpractice law uses “modified comparative negligence.” This means that if a healthcare provider is found partly at fault, they’ll still have to pay a percentage of the damages based on how much they’re to blame.

However, there is no fixed amount of compensation in medical malpractice cases. The value of your claim greatly depends on the extent of the injuries, the strength of the evidence, and the expertise of your legal representation.

How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help

Medical malpractice lawsuits are challenging to handle alone and often require the input of a legal mind. An attorney can be of help in your malpractice case in several ways:

  • Case Evaluation: A medical malpractice attorney will thoroughly evaluate your case to determine if there’s a valid claim. They have the knowledge and experience to assess the strength of your case.
  • Gathering Evidence: The success of your lawsuit depends on the evidence backing your claim. This evidence is essential to prove the key elements of medical malpractice in Illinois. Lawyers have the skills to gather evidence, such as expert opinions and medical records, to support your claim.
  • Negotiating Settlements: Many cases are settled out of court. Your lawyer will negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company to get a fair settlement that compensates you adequately. If your case proceeds to trial, your medical malpractice lawyer will present your case, cross-examine witnesses, and argue on your behalf.
  • Maximizing Compensation: When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you want to ensure that you seek compensation for all the losses. A medical malpractice lawyer will ensure you get the proper compensation for your injuries, losses, and suffering.

Contact a Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney Today

The success of medical malpractice lawsuits largely depends on the quality of legal representation. If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice in Illinois and are seeking legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact a Chicago medical malpractice attorney today. Our legal team can provide the guidance and support you need to navigate the malpractice claim process.

Contacting an attorney promptly is crucial to making the right moves within the given time limits for filing medical malpractice lawsuits in Illinois. This may boost your chances of getting proper compensation for the injuries caused by medical errors.

Contact Malman Law today for more information. An attorney from our team will assess the merits of your case for free.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by President and Founder, Steven J. Malman who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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