Patients injured by a health care provider’s negligence may be entitled to file a claim. However, not everyone who is injured while receiving medical care should file a claim. Medical malpractice law suits are only for cases where an injury occurs due to the lack of care provided by the healthcare professional and/or the medical facility.
In a malpractice case, the injured party must first be able to prove that the defendant owed him a duty of care (showing that there is a doctor or hospital / patient relationship); that the defendant breached that duty by taking an action or failing to take an action (that’s the negligence); and that the injuries were caused by that negligence (breach of care).
The negligence could be the result of a surgical error, misdiagnosis, defective medical equipment, wrong prescription, or many other types of medical errors. If successful the injured party, or his loved ones, may be compensated for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, transportation, pain and suffering, among other losses. However, an injured party in Illinois has a limited amount of time in which to file a medical malpractice claim. That time restriction is known as the statute of limitations.
What Is Statute of Limitations?
Statute of limitations for medical malpractice is a set timeframe a patient has to file a claim against a medical professional and/or healthcare facility. Once the statute of limitations concludes, the patient, or his family, will no longer be able to file a medical malpractice claim. As such, patients who believe they may have been injured due to medical error should seek an opinion from an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. A medical malpractice attorney can best evaluate the merits of the case and explain the claim process to the injured patient.
Statute of Limitations Laws in Illinois
In the state of Illinois the statute of limitations gives a patient two years from the date of discovery to file a medical malpractice claim. The date of discovery is the date the patient discovers, or should have discovered, his injuries or the date the patient discovers, or should have discovered, that the injuries were the result of medical malpractice.This date of discovery should be as well documented as possible, by retaining all medical records and all correspondence received from the healthcare professional and/or the medical institution. A medical malpractice attorney can help with this process, by helping the injured party establish a clear date of discovery. In addition to the two-year statute of limitation, Illinois law bars a patient from filing a claim more than four years from the date the medical treatment that cause the injuries occurred, regardless of the discovery date.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitation Laws
As with most laws, there are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations laws in the state of Illinois. The injured party must be able to prove that he is eligible for the exception.
- Minors: Children under the age of 18, who are injured by medical malpractice have up to eight years from the date the treatment caused the injuries. However, the child must file a medical malpractice claim prior to his 22nd birthday.
- Fraud: If the medical professional or healthcare facility purposely withheld information to conceal their negligence or improper care, the statute of limitation is five years from the day the cause of the injury is discovered.
- Disability: If the injured patient is so incapacitated that he is physically unable to file a medical malpractice claim, the statute of limitation does not begin until the patient’s disability is removed and he is physically able to proceed with the lawsuit. At that point, the patient will have two years to file a claim against the healthcare professional and/or medical facility.
Even if the injured party believes that the statute of limitations is over for his specific case, he should still seek out legal advice from a trained medical malpractice lawyer. The attorney will be able to review the facts of the case and can explain the legal options to him.
Unfortunately, once the statute of limitations is over the patient no longer has the right to file a claim or to receive any type of compensation. Since time is of the essence, it is crucial that any patient that believes that he/she may have been a victim of medical neglect seek advice from a qualified medical malpractice attorney in Illinois.