Medical professionals owe a duty of care to all patients and must perform under specific standards the medical community sets. Deviating from those standards, whether accidentally or intentionally, may constitute medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is an area of personal injury law that holds health care professionals accountable for negligence that results in patient harm. Victims of negligent or subpar care can file medical malpractice cases against professionals who cause them injury, illness, and other harm.
If you or a loved one are a victim of medical malpractice, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you seek compensation for the damages you’ve incurred, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
Contact our Joliet medical malpractice lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to deliver medical services within the expected standards of care, causing harm, injury, or death to a patient. Malpractice or negligence usually involves an error at some point in the healthcare process, possibly during diagnosis, treatment, or aftercare.
Medical malpractice law is an area of tort law that allows patients to file claims or lawsuits against negligent healthcare professionals that cause them harm.
Medical malpractice claims aim to recover financial compensation for patients that incur economic and non-economic losses due to their provider’s negligence, such as medical expenses, lost income, and trauma.
Different Types of Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical negligence can occur at any point in the healthcare process. Common cases include:
- Failure to Treat: This type of error occurs when a medical professional fails to treat a patient despite apparent signs or a known condition.
- Diagnostic Errors: A doctor commits misdiagnosis if they diagnose a patient with the wrong illness, delay diagnosis, or fail to diagnose a condition altogether.
- Surgical Errors: Common mistakes during surgery include leaving tools inside the patient, operating at the wrong site, performing the incorrect procedure, etc. Surgical errors could lead to catastrophic injuries and even death.
- Anesthesia Errors: These errors usually occur during surgery, such as when the anesthesiologist fails to check the patient’s vital signs before administering the drug. Anesthesia errors paired with inadequate care could easily lead to brain damage, coma, or death.
- Birth Injuries: These occur when professionals act negligently during the birthing process, causing harm to the mother or infant. Common errors that result in a birth injury include failing to administer an emergency C-section, injuring the infant with birthing tools, and using too much force when extracting an infant from the birth canal. These errors could lead to birth injuries, such as fractures, facial paralysis, and cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is usually diagnosed after birth.
- Medication Mistakes: A medication error occurs when a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or another provider fails to prescribe, administer, or dispense the correct medication. Common medication mistakes include dispensing the wrong drug, using incorrect drug administration methods, and failing to consider drug interactions, causing an adverse reaction.
- Emergency Room Errors: Mistakes are common in high-stress environments like emergency departments. Typical emergency room errors include delayed diagnosis, putting patients in the wrong triage category, and failing to provide prompt treatment.
- Premature Discharge: Allowing a patient to leave the hospital before fully recovering may be considered medical negligence. Usually, prematurely discharged patients suffer further injury or harm after leaving inpatient care.
- Hospital-Acquired Infections: Hospital staff must take reasonable measures to prevent infections from spreading among patients. Failure to do so may be medical malpractice, especially when the hospital lacks proper infection and outbreak control measures.
- Bedsores: Pressure ulcers or bedsores are skin injuries often caused by neglect. These injuries occur when pressure builds up on a patient’s body, depriving the skin of oxygen and causing skin death. Failing to reposition immobile patients is a common cause of bedsores.
- Medical Device Errors: Another common cause of medical malpractice claims is the use of defective medical equipment, resulting in serious consequences, such as delayed diagnosis, improper treatment, or medication errors.
- Lack of Informed Consent: Doctors must acquire patient consent before performing procedures. Even if a doctor carries out a procedure perfectly, they could be held legally responsible for the patient’s injury if they did not consent.
How to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Joliet, IL
If you suffered harm due to a medical professional’s negligence, you could hold them accountable by filing a medical malpractice claim.
In doing so, you seek damages from the provider’s professional liability insurance. Although it is not required in Illinois, many healthcare providers purchase professional liability coverage to protect them from cases that arise from negligence.
It can be challenging to determine if you have a valid claim, let alone decide if you should pursue it. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Joliet, IL, can help you explore your legal options.
First, you must determine if you have a case against the negligent provider. To file a valid claim, you must prove that the following are true:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you. All medical professionals owe a duty of care to everyone they treat. They must provide medical services within reasonable standards of care and avoid injury or harm to patients.
- The defendant breached this duty of care. The “breach” is a negligent act that goes against the standards of medical care, such as failure to treat or providing substandard treatment.
- You suffered a significant injury from the defendant’s negligence. You must prove that the defendant’s actions caused an injury that would not have happened without negligence.
- Your injury led to considerable consequences. You must show that your injury caused suffering, pain, lost income, and other types of damage.
After you file a claim with the defendant’s insurer, you may receive a settlement offer. It’s up to you whether you accept the initial offer or not. However, having a medical malpractice lawyer negotiate with the insurance company is advisable to ensure you receive fair compensation.
Dealing With the Insurance Provider
Most insurance companies want to pay as little as possible to claimants. After all, they are businesses that want to protect their bottom line. You may receive an offer lower than what you deserve for the harm you’ve suffered, and the insurer may try to get you to accept it immediately.
Our lawyers advise against accepting payment until you seek legal help. We will determine how much you deserve in compensation and negotiate with the defendant’s insurance provider to recover a fair settlement on your behalf.
Statute of Limitations
In Illinois, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years from the date of discovery. Unlike other types of claims, the time starts from the day you discovered your injury rather than the date of the incident that caused it.
File your medical malpractice case as soon as possible to ensure you meet the deadline. Once the time limit is up, you can no longer file a claim.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Medical Malpractice Case?
Filing a claim against a negligent medical professional could help you recover financial compensation for the following damages:
- Medical Bills: Out-of-pocket expenses for hospitalization, medication, surgery, emergency transportation, etc.
- Disability: Mobility aids, physical therapy, loss of quality of life, and other related damages if you become permanently disabled from your injury or illness.
- Lost Wages: Income, benefits, wages, and business opportunities lost while recovering from your injury or caring for an injured loved one.
- Pain and Suffering: Financial compensation for the physical pain, emotional trauma, and other physical or mental harm you’ve suffered from your injury.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Financial compensation for the quality of life lost after your injury or illness.
- Scarring and Disfigurement: Surgery, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, and other related damages if you sustain a permanent scar.
- Wrongful Death: Burial and funeral expenses, pre-death medical treatment, loss of consortium, and other death-related damages if your loved one dies due to medical malpractice.
- Punitive Damages: Additional compensation on top of compensatory damages used to punish liable parties for gross negligence and deter similar behavior in the future.
No two cases are the same, and settlements vary depending on the circumstances, the extent of the injury, and the level of negligence involved. A medical malpractice lawyer in Joliet, IL, will calculate the potential value of your settlement based on these damages and other applicable factors.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
Like any other personal injury claim, the burden of proof is on the victim or plaintiff. You must prove that the defendant was acting negligently and, in doing so, caused you harm.
Your medical malpractice lawyer will help you gather concrete forms of proof to demonstrate the defendant’s negligence, such as:
- Medical records
- Hospital bills
- Medication packaging
- Photos of injuries sustained
- Expert testimony
- Witness accounts
- Victim’s testimony
Medical records prove to be most beneficial for medical malpractice victims. These documents usually contain your diagnoses, treatment plans, medications, and other pertinent information that can help you show that the hospital’s or doctor’s treatment fell below the expected standards of care.
For instance, an incorrect diagnosis on your patient chart is strong proof that shows medical malpractice.
Your lawyer will also gather evidence to show that the defendant’s negligence led to economic and non-economic damages. Proof may include:
- Hospital bills
- Records of missed school or workdays
- Pain management records
- Mobility aids
- Psychological evaluations
Who is Liable in Your Medical Malpractice Claim?
Any medical professional can be held liable for medical malpractice, including:
- Other healthcare providers
There can be multiple liable parties in some cases. For instance, a doctor that prescribes a wrong drug will be accountable if the patient suffers harm from the error. A nurse that fails to catch the mistake before administering the medication could also be held liable.
Hospitals may also be held accountable for negligence in specific cases, such as when they hire inadequate staff members, fail to enforce infection control protocols, or refuse to address abuse and neglect.
Will Your Medical Malpractice Claim Go to Trial?
Going to trial for a medical malpractice case is possible but not likely. Most cases end in settlements wherein the defendant’s insurance company pays for the injured patient’s damages.
However, filing a lawsuit in civil court may be necessary if the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable offer or negotiations have stalled. If this happens, your medical malpractice attorney will take your case to civil court, wherein a judge or jury will decide the verdict based on evidence from both parties.
Settling a claim is generally easier, faster, and less expensive than going to trial. Your medical malpractice attorney will form a legal strategy to help you recover compensation as quickly as possible.
Why You Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice is a complicated area of tort law. It can be challenging to determine whether malpractice has occurred, primarily when other factors could have led to your injury or illness. Furthermore, recovering a fair settlement may be impossible without legal representation.
If you suspect that a medical professional or hospital provided substandard care to you, seek help from a Joliet medical malpractice lawyer who can guide you through the legal process. They will:
- Investigate how and why your injury occurred
- Identify liable parties
- Determine the extent of your damages
- Consult with a medical expert to support your claim
- Collect substantial evidence
- File a claim on your behalf
- Negotiate the settlement
- File a lawsuit, if needed
Discuss Your Case With The Best Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Joliet
Medical care has no room for negligence. A provider failing to adhere to the medical standard could result in serious injury, illness, or even death. Unfortunately, most medical malpractice cases also lead to economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, and loss of future earning potential.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you take legal action against negligent providers. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping medical malpractice victims recover fair compensation for their losses and ensure that negligent parties are held liable for their actions (or inaction).
Contact our law firm at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for an initial consultation with a Joliet medical malpractice lawyer. All sensitive or confidential information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis. You don’t have to pay for our legal services unless we win your case.