What Kind of Damages Can I Claim in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Web Admin - Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Des Plaines medical malpractice lawyerWhen someone suffers a severe injury due to medical malpractice in Illinois, that person may claim two types of compensation from the medical professional or institution who committed the malpractice: 

- Economic damages, which compensate the patient for specific financial losses both past and future, such as medical expenses and lost earnings.

- Non-economic damages, which compensate the patient for physical and/or emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, disfigurement, physical impairment, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life, per Illinois law 735 ILCS 5/2-1702.

Does Illinois Limit the Dollar Amount of Damages for Medical Malpractice?

Unlike some states, Illinois medical malpractice law places no limits on the amount of either economic or non-economic damages that you can receive in a lawsuit. However, the law does not allow the award of punitive damages, which are intended to punish a wrongdoer and discourage others from making the same mistakes, per Illinois law 735 ILCS 5/2-1115.

What Type of Medical Error or Injury Qualifies for Financial Compensation?

There are many times when medical treatments that do not have as good of an outcome as we had hoped. For example, a knee replacement surgery may not relieve as much of our pain or restore as much physical function as we had expected. A pain medication may not relieve all of our pain and may also have unpleasant side effects. This does not mean that medical malpractice has occurred. You can only claim medical malpractice when a doctor or other licensed medical professional fails to meet the generally accepted standard of care expected in a particular patient-care situation. 

For example, suppose a patient came into an urgent-care center saying that they think they broke their ankle when they fell off a ladder. The expected standard of care would call for an X-ray to be taken and, depending on the severity of the injury, the doctor might apply a cast or refer the patient to an orthopedic surgeon for an operation to repair the ankle. Now suppose that the treating physician did not order an X-ray, incorrectly interpreted the X-ray, or otherwise failed to treat the patient according to generally accepted standards. Let us further suppose that, as a result of the physician’s error, the patient’s ankle does not heal properly, leaving him with a permanent disability and unable to work in his former profession. Taken together, these circumstances suggest that this patient could win damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Consult an Experienced Schaumburg Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If you have suffered a severe injury that you believe can be attributed to misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, surgical error, improperly prescribed medication, or other treatment which deviated from the generally accepted standard of care, consult a knowledgeable Arlington Heights medical malpractice attorney. Call the law offices of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC at 847-934-6000 for a no-cost initial consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout 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.


Misdiagnosis Is One of the Most Common Forms of Medical Malpractice

Web Admin - Monday, July 16, 2018
Rolling Meadows misdiagnosis injury lawerPeople in the United States have access to the best doctors and medical facilities in the world, and we expect to receive quality medical care when we need it. Unfortunately, mistakes occur all too often, and negligence on the part of doctors, nurses, or other medical staff can result in serious, life-changing injuries. Medical malpractice can take many forms, but misdiagnosis is one of the most common medical mistakes, and also one of the most serious.

The Prevalence of Misdiagnosis

Errors in diagnosis can occur when doctors fail to diagnose a certain condition, make an incorrect diagnosis, or do not correctly diagnose a condition in time to properly treat it. These are the most common type of medical errors which occur in the United States, and they are also likely to result in a patient’s death or disability. In fact, studies have shown that between 80,000 and 160,000 people become permanently disabled every year because of misdiagnosis.

Misdiagnosis can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

- Failure to evaluate a patient - An incorrect diagnosis may result from a doctor failing to complete an appropriate evaluation of the factors affecting a patient’s health, including their family medical history.

- Lab errors - Misdiagnosis may occur due to errors made during testing, such as equipment that was not functioning properly, samples that were contaminated, reports that were mixed up, or a technician that failed to follow the proper testing procedures.

- Misread lab reports - A doctor may make an improper diagnosis if they ordered the wrong tests or misinterpreted the results.

- Overwork - Doctors with heavy workloads are more likely to misdiagnose patients, especially if they do not consult with specialists or other medical professionals when they are uncertain about a diagnosis.

Avoiding Misdiagnosis

Patients should be able to expect that their doctors will complete the proper tests and take all relevant information into account while making a diagnosis, but they can also take steps to educate themselves and avoid the risk of misdiagnosis. It is always a good idea to ask a doctor questions and make sure to understand their diagnosis and the benefits and drawbacks of the suggested treatments or medications. Patients may also choose to seek out a second opinion to make sure their conditions are diagnosed correctly.

While patients can do their best to protect their own health, they should be able to receive medical care without worrying about the possibility of their doctor making mistakes. If you or a family member have suffered an injury that occurred because of misdiagnosis or some other form of medical malpractice, Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC can help you understand your options for pursuing compensation for your damages. Contact a Crystal Lake personal injury attorney at 847-934-6000 to schedule a personalized consultation.

Ken ApicellaAbout 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.


Basic Overview of Medical Malpractice Claims

Web Admin - Tuesday, January 05, 2016

medical malpractice claims, Illinois personal injury attorneyWhen we are sick or injured, we turn to doctors and other health care professionals for help. Unfortunately, in some cases, mistakes are made that can lead to more harm. When those mistakes rise to the level of negligence, it may be possible for the victim to file a medical malpractice claim against those responsible. 

Making a Claim 

In general, the following must exist for an individual to make a medical malpractice claim: 

1. A doctor-patient relationship;

2. The doctor, hospital, or medical professional acted negligently in diagnosing or treating the patient, which is proven by showing that a competent doctor under the same circumstances would not have caused the harm the patient suffered;

3. The negligence caused the patient’s injury; and

4. The patient suffered specific damages, which may include physical pain, mental suffering, increased medical bills, or the inability to work. 

Under Illinois law, a victim must file a claim within two years of the date he or she became aware of, or should have become aware of, the medical malpractice (this period is known as the statute of limitations). However, a claim cannot be made more than four years after the date of the malpractice, regardless of when the malpractice was discovered. 

If the victim is under 18 years old, the statute of limitations is eight years or when the victim turns 22, whichever occurs first. The statute of limitations is important because after the period to file expires, claims are usually barred. 

Plaintiffs in medical malpractice claims must also file a certificate of merit along with their complaint. Many states require a certificate of merit (or similar document) in an attempt to reduce the number of medical malpractice claims, which are often expensive and time-consuming to complete. A certificate of merit demonstrates that there is some indication of malpractice, which can help ensure that the claim is not frivolous. 

Illinois law requires the plaintiff to declare that one of the following is true: 

- Consultation with a health professional was made and that individual determined in a written report that there is a reasonable and meritorious claim the plaintiff can make;

- Consultation with a health professional was not possible because the statute of limitations was close to expiring (the plaintiff has 90 days from filing the complaint to satisfy the written report requirement); or

- Request was made for the patient’s health care records and the person responsible for presenting them failed to do so within 60 days of receipt of the request (the plaintiff has 90 days from the date of receipt of the records to satisfy the written report requirement). 

It is important to note that if the requirements of the certificate of merit are not met, the statute of limitations continues to run, even if the complaint was properly filed. Help for Victims

If you have been injured and believe it was the result of negligence on the part of a doctor or other health care provider, it may be possible for you to recover a damage award. For more information, please contact an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney today. Our firm provides our services to the communities of Crystal Lake, Schaumburg, Palatine, Des Plaines, Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, Arlington Heights, Inverness, and Deer Park.

Ken ApicellaAbout 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. 



Recovering for Medical Malpractice

Web Admin - Friday, May 15, 2015

medical malpractice recovery, Crystal Lake medical malpractice lawyerUnfortunately, 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. 1. Failing to diagnose a patient;
  2. 2. Misdiagnosing a patient;
  3. 3. Performing unnecessary surgery;
  4. 4. Committing surgical errors;
  5. 5. Administering improper medication or dosing; or
  6. 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.

Ken ApicellaAbout 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.

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