Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences for patients and their families. When a medical professional’s negligence results in injury or harm to you or a loved one, then you have a legal right to seek compensation for your damages. However, navigating the legal system can be complex, especially for those already dealing with the aftermath of medical malpractice. In this guide, we will provide a comprehensive overview of medical malpractice laws in Chicago, the types of damages that may be recovered, and the process for pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
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What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to provide a standard level of care, resulting in injury or harm to the patient. To prove medical malpractice, you must establish that the healthcare provider had a duty of care, the duty was breached, and said breach resulted in your injury or harm.
Duty of Care
The duty or standard of care is the level of care a reasonably competent healthcare provider would provide under similar circumstances. Expert testimony is often necessary to establish the standard of care in a malpractice lawsuit.
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide the standard level of care. This can include acts of commission (doing something that should not have been done) or acts of omission (failing to do something that should have been done).
Injury or Harm
As a plaintiff, you must establish that the breach of duty resulted in their injury or harm. This can include physical harm, emotional distress, or financial damages.
Medical Malpractice Laws in Chicago
In Chicago, medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to Illinois’ medical malpractice laws. These laws set forth the requirements for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Affidavit of Merit
An affidavit of merit is a document that you must file with the court in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The certificate must be signed by a qualified healthcare professional who attests that the plaintiff’s case has merit.
Statute of Limitations
In Chicago, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is two years from the date of the injury or from the date the damage was discovered, or should have been discovered through reasonable diligence.
Illinois law limits how much damages can be recovered in medical malpractice cases. The limits vary depending on the type of damages being sought.
Types of Damages
Victims of medical malpractice may be entitled to a variety of damages, including:
Economic damages include things like lost wages, medical expenses, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Non-economic damages include things like emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering.
Punitive damages may be awarded in cases where the healthcare provider’s conduct was particularly egregious or reckless. These punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.
Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Victims of medical malpractice should consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you navigate the complex legal system and pursue fair compensation for your damages.
Investigating the case is the first step in pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This may involve reviewing medical records, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with experts.
Filing a Lawsuit
If it is determined that there is a valid case, the next step is to file a lawsuit. This involves drafting a complaint, serving it on the defendant, and filing it with the court.
During the lawsuit’s discovery phase, both parties exchange information and evidence relevant to the case. This can include medical records, witness statements, and expert reports.
Your attorney may be able to convince the parties to reach a malpractice settlement before the case goes to trial.
The case will go to trial if a settlement cannot be reached. During the trial, both parties legal teams will present evidence and arguments to a judge or jury, who will ultimately determine the case’s outcome.
If either party is dissatisfied with the trial’s outcome, they may be able to appeal the decision.
Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. However, by understanding the legal system and working with an experienced attorney, victims can pursue fair compensation for their damages. If you or a loved one were the victim of medical malpractice, seek legal advice as soon as possible and take action to protect your rights.