You go in for a routine surgery. Your surgeon expects that your procedure should go smoothly with no complications. A month after your surgery, you begin to experience pain and swelling at the incision site, only to find out that a surgical sponge was left behind.
This is just one of many examples of medical negligence. The medical malpractice attorneys at Malman Law are here to provide an overview of what factors determine settlement amounts and the types of damages that you may be able to recover.
Medical malpractice is defined as “any act or omission by a physician during treatment of a patient that deviates from accepted norms of practice in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient.”
Every physician in the state of Illinois must maintain liability coverage. According to the Medical Practice Act of 1987, each physician is required to carry at least $1,000,000 in liability coverage. Most malpractice insurers offer a $3,000,000 aggregate limit.
If the patient has suffered injuries, he or she can file a medical malpractice claim. In Illinois, if the patient is deceased, then the decedent’s personal representative is the only person allowed to file a wrongful death claim.
According to a study conducted by John Hopkins University School of Medicine, more than 250,000 Americans die each year due to a medical error.
When a patient initiates a medical malpractice claim, they will have the burden of proving that the treatment he or she received by a healthcare professional or hospital did not meet the expected standard of care.
Since the circumstances behind each malpractice case are unique, there is no “average” settlement amount. However, certain factors are examined by a malpractice insurance carrier in order to calculate a settlement figure.
These factors include:
To prove that the health care provider was negligent, the patient must first show that there was a doctor-patient relationship.
Once this is established, the claimant must prove that the physician wavered from the acceptable level of care. As a result of this improper treatment or failure to diagnose a condition, the patient suffered injuries.
It is important to establish that the patient’s injuries were a direct result of the doctor’s negligence.
Finally, the patient must demonstrate that he or she has endured verifiable losses in the form of damages.
Any physician who makes an error in the course of treating a patient must be held professionally liable. Surgical specialties that are considered a higher risk, such as neurosurgery, will have higher insurance policy limits.
If the physician caught a medical mistake and took measures to reverse the error, the extent of the malpractice would be less significant. Conversely, a healthcare professional who makes a medical error and fails to rectify it will be held financially responsible.
If both sides cannot come to a settlement agreement or if the extent of the malpractice exceeds policy limits, you may end up bringing your case to trial.
A physician’s negligence may result in temporary or permanent injuries.
If a physician’s mistake causes long-term health problems, then you are likely to receive a higher settlement.
Long-term complications would include medical errors that result in brain injuries, birth injuries, paralysis, blood clots, and strokes.
If your healthcare provider delayed a diagnosis, your physician’s medical malpractice insurer may try to claim that you are partially at fault. Any evidence that you canceled follow-up appointments can be used against you.
If you had a poor surgery outcome, the insurer might suggest that you did not properly follow post-operative instructions.
This is rarely the entire story. Our legal team has years of experience defending medical malpractice cases. We will conduct a thorough investigation to uncover any errors or omissions committed by your doctor.
Proving a medical malpractice case is dependent on evidence supporting your claim.
Medical imaging associated with your condition will be heavily relied on, such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds. Your medical records, including any physician’s notes, will be useful as well.
Expert witness testimony will help to establish that your physician’s negligence did cause your bad health outcome.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will have a reliable network of physicians and investigators to help assist with your case.
A patient who has sustained injuries at the hands of a physician can request damages. Damages aim to make the injured person “whole” again.
You can recover compensatory damages in order to reimburse you for losses. For this reason, compensatory damages are also referred to as actual damages. Calculating these losses will play a large role in determining the size of your settlement.
Whether or not your case settles out of court or proceeds to trial, the injured party may be entitled to receive both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages will cover any losses that are easily quantifiable, including:
In contrast, non-economic damages cover losses that affect a victim’s ability to live a normal life. Noneconomic damages are less straightforward and may include:
Calculating your losses is one of the most significant parts of your medical malpractice case. You want to calculate the full extent of your losses. The more evidence you have, the better our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers can negotiate. You will not accept an unfair offer when you clearly know how much your case is worth.
Economic damages are easier to calculate than non-economic ones. They involve invoices, receipts, pay stubs, and more. Our medical malpractice lawyer will work with your medical team and other experts to calculate long-term expenses.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate since they do not have any receipts attached in most instances. We can apply two formulas to estimate your pain and suffering in Illinois. The first method is the per-diem method. This method assigns a dollar amount for every day you cannot work because of your injury. We will multiply the amount designated by the number of days for a total.
A more popular method for calculating pain and suffering is the multiplier method. It involves assigning a number depending on injury severity. We will take that number and multiply it by your economic losses. Calculating your losses takes skill and knowledge. That is what you get when you work with Malman Law.
In Illinois, there is no limit on what a victim can recover for either economic or non-economic damages. You are entitled to be fully compensated for your losses and injuries.
In 2005, Illinois placed a cap on the noneconomic damages that a person could recover. A claimant could only recover a maximum of $500,000 million against a healthcare professional and $1 million against a healthcare facility or hospital. However, this cap was lifted in 2010 when the Illinois Supreme Court ruled this law as being unconstitutional.
Recently, we represented the mother of a boy who was having trouble moving his arm. The mother brought the boy to his physician on several occasions regarding the problem, but it took almost a full year before the physician recommended that the boy have an MRI. The image returned a diagnosis of a ganglioglioma (tumor), which unfortunately led to the boy’s paralysis and ultimately to his death. Our team investigated the matter, utilizing a team of lawyers and experts who proved medical malpractice. Our investigation showed that, had the boy’s physicians found the tumor earlier, he would likely have avoided paralysis and death. We obtained a settlement of 5 million dollars for the mother.
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, Malman Law is here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
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
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023