Unfortunately, health care professionals sometimes commit mistakes while treating patients. Individuals who sustain injuries as a result of medical malpractice may be able to recover monetary awards for the damage caused. These awards can help victims obtain additional health care required as a result of the malpractice and provide compensation for the suffering the victim endures.
What is Medical Malpractice?
The usual legal theory under which a medical malpractice claim is made is negligence. In general terms, medical malpractice occurs when a patient suffers an injury as a result of a health care professional’s negligent act or omission. Specifically, under a negligence theory, the claimant must prove that the health care professional had a duty of care, that a violation or breach of the applicable standard of care occurred, and that the result of this breach caused compensable injury.
There are numerous ways in which medical malpractice may occur, including, but not limited to, the following:
- 1. Failing to diagnose a patient;
- 2. Misdiagnosing a patient;
- 3. Performing unnecessary surgery;
- 4. Committing surgical errors;
- 5. Administering improper medication or dosing; or
- 6. Prematurely discharging a patient from a medical facility.
Types of Damages Recoverable
It is possible to recover both economic and non-economic damages for medical malpractice. However, under Illinois law, punitive damages are not available. Economic damages include items like medical bills for treatment, wages lost, or the loss of future earning capacity that was caused as a result of the malpractice.
In addition, a victim of medical malpractice can be awarded non-economic damages. This form of damages is more difficult to prove and to value because they are more subjective than economic damages. Though more difficult to demonstrate, non-economic damages can result in larger awards for claimants. Currently, there is no cap on non-economic damage awards in Illinois.
Non-economic damages include the loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. Physical pain and suffering involves the actual pain and discomfort that results from the injury. Alternatively, mental pain and suffering relates to any emotions connected with the physical pain or trauma. This may include mental anguish or emotional distress, as well as many other emotions or feelings.
The statute of limitations is another important aspect of medical malpractice claims. Pursuant to Illinois law, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date the claimant knew or reasonably should have known of the injury, but in no event can a claimant bring an action more than four years after the date on which the alleged act or omission occurred. For a claimant under the age of 18, the limitation period is eight years from the date of the act or omission, with the exception that a claim cannot be filed after the date on which the minor claimant turns 22 years of age.
Contact Our Skilled Attorneys
If you would like more information about medical malpractice claims, speak with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney. At Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, we proudly provide legal representation for areas such as Crystal Lake, Des Plaines, and Deer Park, among many others.
About the Author: Attorney Ken Apicella is a founding partner of DGAA focusing in the areas of personal injury, employment, insurance coverage disputes, and civil litigation. Ken earned his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law in 1999. He has been named a SuperLawyers Rising Star and a Forty Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch. Ken has written and lectured for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education and regularly serves as a moderator at Northwest Suburban Bar Association's Continuing Legal Education seminars.