If you believe that you or a loved one are a victim of medical malpractice in Illinois, you may be able to recover compensation with a claim or lawsuit against negligent medical professionals or facilities. The key is knowing what to do if you suspect medical malpractice.
Signs of Medical Malpractice
There are several signs to look for if you suspect medical malpractice. These include:
Unexplained Injuries or Complications
If you or a loved one has suffered any injuries or complications that doctors didn’t discuss either before or after they developed, this could indicate malpractice if they resulted after medical care.
Delayed Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis
Another sign of medical malpractice and negligent doctors is a delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis. A delayed diagnosis is the failure of doctors to provide patients with a timely diagnosis that would allow for proactive treatment, while a misdiagnosis involves diagnosing a condition as something else, which can lead to prescribing patients with the wrong treatments or providing the wrong procedures.
Doctors could also prescribe the wrong medication to treat a condition or recommend the wrong dosage or frequency of intake, all of which could put patients at risk.
Lack of Informed Consent
In Illinois, medical professionals must receive informed consent from patients before they can provide care. Informed consent involves providing prospective patients with details about their conditions and treatment plans, including the benefits and risks associated with a particular treatment. Based on this information, the patient can make an informed decision when choosing whether to receive a treatment.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
To succeed with a medical malpractice case, you must be able to prove four main items, including:
- That you had established a doctor-patient relationship and that the professional owed a duty of care
- That this professional or a facility breached the duty of care
- That this breach of duty led to injuries
- That your injuries resulted in calculable damages
In proving these items, you’ll want to collect key pieces of evidence, which will involve the following steps:
Documenting All Medical Records
One of the most important pieces of evidence in medical malpractice cases is medical documentation. You should gather as many medical records as you can to help support your case, including proof of a doctor-patient relationship, communication between the patient and medical professionals, and proof of treatment that the doctor prescribed or provided.
Unfortunately, medical records in these cases are often incomplete or misleading, which can make it more challenging to get the documentation needed to prove a case. However, an experienced medical malpractice lawyer may be able to assist with this and ensure you’re able to gather all pertinent documents.
Collecting Witness Statements
Another key piece of evidence is a witness statement, which you could obtain from multiple witnesses. These witnesses could include the patient’s own testimony along with those from other medical professionals, patients, or others who can help explain the nature of the malpractice.
When Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Medical malpractice cases are often complex and involve many elements that can make them difficult to navigate. Doctors, other medical professionals, and care facilities also often fight hard against accusations of malpractice to preserve their reputation in the field and protect their bottom line. In addition, the difficulty of proving negligence in these cases and holding the responsible party liable can be challenging.
All these aspects make it critical to speak with an attorney about your case and determine the options available to you. The following are a couple of ways a lawyer may help you with your case.
Understanding the Legal Process
One of the main reasons to hire an attorney to handle a medical malpractice case is the ability to better understand the legal process. Your lawyer can answer any and all questions you might have about your case, including “What damages are available in a medical malpractice claim?” and “How can I proceed with my case?” You can also ask, “What does it cost to hire a medical malpractice lawyer?” and learn about the fees associated with medical malpractice cases.
Your attorney may be able to file a claim and settle with insurers to recover total compensation, or the lawyer may decide it’s necessary to take the case to court. In any case, this individual would be able to provide clear guidance to you as you go through your case, helping you increase your chances of recovering total compensation, including any economic and non-economic damages you may be eligible to recover.
Some examples of damages in these cases include:
- Medical bills and ongoing care
- Lost income and earning capacity resulting from injuries and complications
- Pain and suffering resulting from negligent doctors’ malpractice
Filing a Lawsuit Within the Statute of Limitations
Another way a lawyer can help you in a medical malpractice case is by ensuring you file a claim or lawsuit on time. Every tort case, including medical malpractice cases, comes with a specific statute of limitations that establishes a clear deadline for the case. If you fail to build a case and file before passing this deadline, you may be unable to recover the full compensation you deserve.
The statute of limitations differs from state to state. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years from the date of the discovery of the injury or the time when the patient should have recognized the injury through reasonable diligence. However, this deadline may be extended depending on the circumstances, such as when the plaintiff is under 18 at the time of the malpractice.
Knowing what to do if you suspect medical malpractice can go a long way in helping you build a successful case, from gathering evidence to consulting a lawyer to help handle your case.
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.