Does Illinois Have a Cap on Medical Malpractice Claims?

When you suffer an injury or illness caused by the negligent or wrongful actions of a medical professional, you have legal grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the guilty party. However, if you win your case, you must consider, “does Illinois have a cap on medical malpractice claims?” Damage caps may impact how much money you can recover for your injury or illness.

Woman disabled on a wheelchair having a conversation with her therapist in an office. Does Illinois Have a Cap on Medical Malpractice

If you are injured by medical malpractice in Illinois, contact Ankin Law medical malpractice attorneys in Chicago for help with claims and compensation. Call us today at 312-600-0000.

Does Illinois Have a Cap on Medical Malpractice Claims?

Medical malpractice is defined as a legal cause of action that occurs when a medical professional or health care professional causes injury or death to a patient through negligent or wrongful actions. Medical malpractice can result when any type of healthcare professional deviates from recognized standard practices within the profession that are considered safe. Generally, an act of medical malpractice has three characteristics:

1.      The medical treatment is not consistent with the medical standard of care, which is the standard medical treatment recognized and accepted by the medical profession.

2.      The patient suffers some type of injury or illness due to the medical professional’s negligent or wrongful actions or medical errors.

3.      The patient suffers damage or harm because of the medical professional’s actions. Damages may include physical injuries or disabilities, pain and suffering, loss of income, personal hardship, or death.

When any of the three characteristics shown above can be proven, the patient has a legal right to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover damages for injury, illness, or death. In Illinois, a medical malpractice case is filed in civil court by a medical malpractice lawyer who has knowledge and experience with Illinois regulations and damage caps that can impact the outcome of the lawsuit.

Are Damage Caps Imposed in Illinois?

Before 2010, Illinois did impose damage caps on non-economic damages. Victims could only claim up to $500,000 for pain and suffering against a medical professional. If the claim involved a hospital or medical facility, victims could recover up to $1 million in non-economic damages.

Currently in Illinois, damage caps are not imposed on medical malpractice claims. In any lawsuit filed after 2010, the victim of medical malpractice has the legal right to recover compensation for the full value of both economic and non-economic damages:

  • Economic Damages – Economic damages are awarded for medical expenses such as hospital and emergency room visits, doctor visits, lab tests, and prescription medications, as well as damages for loss of income and loss of earning capacity.
  • Non-Economic Damages – Non-economic damages are awarded for intangible damages that can not be assigned a monetary value. These damages include current and future emotional distress, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.

In Illinois, if a patient dies from medical malpractice, laws permit the patient’s family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit on the patient’s behalf to collect economic damages and non-economic damages. In 2023, Illinois amended its Wrongful Death Act to permit punitive damages in actions for wrongful death, but this does not include medical malpractice.

What Are the Impacts of Having a Cap on Medical Malpractice Claims?

According to medical research on damage caps, medical malpractice claims impact liability insurance premiums for medical professionals, but the impact of damage caps on defensive medicine, physicians’ location decisions, and the cost of health care to consumers are less clear. The most recent data in 2024 shows that 29 states currently have tort reform that places a cap on medical malpractice damages. States vary widely in the amount of the cap, the type of damages that are covered by the cap, and the type of circumstances in which the cap applies.

In Illinois, victims of medical malpractice can file a lawsuit for the following financial losses:

Economic Damages

  • Medical expenses for hospitalization, treatments, and prescriptions
  • Medical expenses for physical and emotional therapy
  • Medical expenses for home health care and mobility aids
  • Lost wages and future lost earnings
  • Property damages
  • Disability accommodations

Non-Economic Damages

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Chronic pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Permanent disability
  • Loss of quality of life

How a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help You Calculate Damages

If you file a medical malpractice lawsuit against an Illinois hospital, clinic, physician, surgeon, nurse, or other type of medical provider, you must understand how to sue for medical malpractice to get the best results. These cases are often complicated and lengthy because they require proof that medical malpractice caused the patient’s injury, illness, or death.

In a lawsuit, the burden of proof lies with the injured patient (the plaintiff) who must show that the hospital or medical professional (the defendant) is guilty of negligent or wrongful actions that caused harm. You need an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can prove medical malpractice against the defendant and calculate your damages for compensation.

Calculating Your Damages

When pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it’s essential to calculate the full extent of your damages.

To calculate tangible economic damages, you need to provide evidence to your lawyer. Evidence should include bills and receipts for your medical expenses and pay stubs for your wages. Your lawyer will use these to calculate economic damages. Your lawyer may also get help from expert witnesses like medical professionals and care planners who can determine accurate costs for disabilities, long-term health care, and special needs.

To calculate intangible non-economic damages, you can’t use bills and receipts. Your lawyer may estimate the value of your pain and suffering and emotional distress using one of two common formulas:

  • The Per-Diem Method: You are assigned a dollar value for everyday you are unable to work due to your injury. Your pain and suffering award will equal that dollar value times the number of days you were incapacitated.
  • The Multiplier Method: You are assigned a number, or multiplier, based on the severity of your injuries. Your pain and suffering award will equal that multiplier times the value of your economic losses.

Court Trial or Settlement

When a hospital or one of its licensed medical professionals causes medical malpractice injuries to a patient, you can file a lawsuit against the hospital or professional. Before you decide what to do, talk to your lawyer about the advantages and disadvantages of a civil court trial vs. a settlement out of court.

Because court trials are complex and can take up to four years to resolve, the majority of medical malpractice cases (more than 75%) are resolved through settlement agreements out of court. The primary benefit of avoiding a trial is the speed at which the case will resolve. You may want to consider a faster settlement offer that will eliminate months spent in court and time away from other priorities. A settlement agreement can save you the time you must spend in a court trial and the hassle of waiting years for compensation for your injuries. Such a lengthy delay can take a toll on your finances.

Find a medical malpractice lawyer who can explain the pros and cons of a court trial vs. a settlement out of court. Your lawyer is the only person who can explain the differences in your expenses, time, and results based on the specific facts of your case.

The Statute of Limitations

When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois, you have a limited amount of time to file for damages. This deadline is referred to as the statute of limitations. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years after the date when the patient became aware of his or her injury caused by medical malpractice. If you don’t file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, your case may be dismissed by the court.

You may not file a medical malpractice lawsuit more than four years after your medical malpractice injury or illness occurs. This deadline applies to plaintiffs who don’t discover their injury right away.

When the plaintiff is under 18 years of age when a medical malpractice injury occurs, the filing deadline is extended to 8 years instead of 2 years from the date of the injury. However, when the plaintiff turns 22 years of age, the claim can no longer be filed.

If you are the victim of medical malpractice in Illinois, contact us for a free case evaluation. Call and talk to one of our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at 312-600-0000.

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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