Chicago Medical Malpractice

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Chicago medical malpractice claims involve injuries caused by medical errors by a doctor, hospital, or other healthcare professional. Medical malpractice cases are very complex and require an in-depth understanding of Illinois laws and legal practice. If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of medical malpractice, there is only a limited amount of time to file a claim. There are other limitations and restrictions on recovering damages that can impact your case and how much money you may receive.This information provides an overview of the medical malpractice process in Illinois with answers to common questions. If you have any questions after reviewing this information or want an experienced Chicago medical malpractice law firm to provide a free consultation, contact our office today online or by phone at 800-529-6162.

Illinois Medical Malpractice Overview

According to a study from Johns Hopkins, medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. More than 250,000 people every year die because of medical errors in the U.S. The actual numbers of medical malpractice deaths could even be higher because the doctors or hospitals may not be reporting their fatal mistakes.

There may be millions of medical errors every year that lead to serious injury, disability, paralysis, amputation, or permanent loss of function. Doctors and healthcare professionals have a duty to provide a certain standard of care to their patients. When a doctor makes an error or mistake that leads to a serious injury, the doctor or hospital may be liable for damages.

An injury victim can file a medical malpractice lawsuit in court to recover damages. If the court finds that the doctor was responsible for causing the injury, a jury may award the injury victim damages. Damages can cover all the losses associated with a medical error, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical treatment
  • Loss of wages
  • Loss of income potential
  • Pain and suffering

How Do You Know If You Are a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

One of the most common concerns involves people not knowing if they were injured because of a medical error. The doctor or hospital may not come forward and tell you they made a mistake. The health care provider may even try and hide their mistakes so the injury victim or their family never finds out.

The evidence of a medical error may be hidden in your medical records, hospital records, or even in your physical injuries. Most people cannot identify evidence of malpractice. It usually takes medical training, experience, or specialized education to know what to look for and identify possible causes of a medical error. This may include abnormal lab results, lack of proper record-keeping, or improper handoff procedures between doctors or nurses.

One way to get a better idea of the cause of your injuries is to have an experienced medical malpractice attorney review your case. Our firm is experienced in handling all types of medical malpractice cases, from birth injuries to medication errors. We offer a free consultation and are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day.

Our Chicago Medical Malpractice Law Firm

During a medical malpractice case, our experienced lawyers and health care experts will review your case to identify possible medical mistakes. This may include a medical exam, getting a copy of your full medical record, talking to witnesses, and medical expert review.
At Gilman & Bedigian, our mission is to provide comprehensive medical malpractice advice, trusted guidance, caring, and information, and to give you unparalleled expert legal representation to maximize the amount of money awarded to you and your family.

Our law firm focuses on medical malpractice cases. Using our professional experience, we have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients and their families. Our trial attorneys have even earned record-setting medical malpractice jury verdicts, including a $55 million verdict against a top hospital. We are confident that we are the law firm that can help you through the legal system and help you recover the best financial award for your injuries.

Before you entrust your important case to just any lawyer, make sure you understand what’s at stake. Some lawyers dabble in all kinds of law, including real estate, tax law, bankruptcy, or DUI defense. Technically, anyone who passes the bar in Illinois can file a medical malpractice case but do you want that person representing you in court?

Medical malpractice law is different from other types of law. It is important to hire a law firm with experience in medical malpractice. In every Chicago medical malpractice case we give our clients:

  1. Expert assessment of the case
  2. Personalized counsel
  3. Responsive guidance
  4. Advancement of all expenses
  5. The best medical experts
  6. Comprehensive case preparation
  7. Proven trial experience
  8. Financial resources and support
  9. The benefit of an unparalleled reputation for success in medical malpractice cases

One of our “secrets” to winning record-setting trial verdicts is to leave no stone unturned. The big insurance companies will often change their tune when they see our names on a lawsuit. The insurance company will want to settle the case for as little as they can get away with but our lawyers will fight to get you the full amount you deserve.

Our law firm was founded by our partners, Briggs Bedigian and Charles Gilman. Both partner attorneys have extensive track records for serving their clients with diligence, dignity and integrity, and for securing significant financial awards for their clients. Our law firm is dedicated to providing the same level of service for every client.

Attorney Briggs Bedigian has been recognized as being included in the Inner Circle Of Advocates 100 best plaintiff lawyers in the United States. This membership is limited to attorneys of exceptional qualification, “who are respected among their peers and who are experienced and skillful in the handling of courtroom litigation.”

Lawyer Bedigian has earned this elite status through delivering consistent results in medical malpractice trials. To even be eligible to join the inner circle, an attorney must have at least three verdicts greater than $1 million, or one verdict greater than $10 million in the past five years. These accomplishments are very rare amongst medical malpractice lawyers and Briggs Bedigian stands out even among the elite, having earned some of the biggest medical malpractice verdicts including one for $55 million, one for $21 million, and at least 11 others in the $1 million to $6 million range.

Comprehensive Illinois Medical Malpractice Guide

Medical malpractice laws can be difficult to navigate. After a medical error, the injury victim or family members have to sort through a sea of information, much of it outdated or without much substance. This is why we created this guide to Illinois medical malpractice claims. Throughout this page, you can find useful and on-topic information to help you understand your medical malpractice claim and what your case might be worth.

What is Medical Malpractice in Illinois?

Medical malpractice in Illinois involves the breach of a duty of care to a patient by a doctor or health care worker. When a medical worker goes outside the standards of practice and causes an injury, the doctor or hospital may be liable for damages. A successful medical malpractice claim can award the patient with money for medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and any other damages related to the medical error. Some of the major areas of medical malpractice in Chicago include:

Birth Injury Malpractice

Birth injuries can be some of the most devastating malpractice cases. A baby and the family may be left dealing with a lifetime of disability, medical care, and expensive medical bills. It is important to make sure the negligent doctors are held accountable, to provide for the injured baby and prevent others from suffering injuries in the future. Birth injury cases can involve:

Many birth injuries cause permanent damage, including mental and physical disability, developmental delays, disfigurement, and brain damage. Specialized care for a child with a severe disability may be required for the rest of their life. A malpractice claim can help the child and parents recover the costs of care to make sure the child is provided for.

Prenatal Care Malpractice

Over the course of a pregnancy, there are many opportunities to identify possible risks to the child and mother. However, improper care can lead to serious lifelong consequences. If you are pregnant, make sure you understand the possible risks associated with negligent prenatal care. If you suspect you were not provided proper care during your pregnancy and your child suffered an injury, this information can help you understand your rights. Medical malpractice during pregnancy can include:

Surgical Errors

Negligent treatment during surgery is the cause of many malpractice injuries in Chicago. Unexpected complications, unwarned of results, pain, or infections after a surgery may have been caused by medical malpractice by the doctors, hospitals, nurses, or anesthesiologists. Some of the most common surgical errors include:

Diagnostic Errors

There are plenty of opportunities for doctors and healthcare providers to identify medical conditions and diseases before they become serious. However, even with testing and exams, some doctors fail to recognize the clear signs of a medical problem. One of the most common causes of medical malpractice in Chicago is diagnostic errors. Diagnostic errors can include:

Prescription and Medication Errors

Prescription medication mistakes are extremely common in Illinois. Even with switching many systems to online prescriptions, doctors and pharmacists can still make deadly mistakes. Medication errors can occur in a doctor’s office, hospital, or pharmacy. Dangerous use and interaction of drugs can involve:

  • Wrong medication
  • Wrong dose
  • Wrong route
  • Wrong frequency
  • Wrong patient
  • Monitoring errors
  • Dispensing errors

Emergency Room Errors

Time is of the essence in emergency rooms. Medical errors in the emergency department (ED) can be fatal. Unfortunately, many ER accidents are never discovered and the family never finds out that their loved one died unnecessarily because of a careless doctor’s errors. Emergency room errors can include:

  • Delayed treatment
  • Incorrect diagnosis
  • Medication errors
  • Diagnostic errors
  • Failure to follow-up
  • Laboratory errors
  • Imaging errors
  • Improperly trained staff
  • Unsanitary conditions
  • EMT errors
  • Paramedic errors

Hospital Injuries

Hospitals are supposed to be places where patients can recover from injuries. However, many patients are injured in hospitals every day. Injuries in the hospital can include:

  • Slip and fall injuries
  • Failure to monitor
  • Understaffing accidents
  • Improperly trained staff
  • Bed sores
  • Patient neglect
  • Patient abuse
  • Hospital acquired infections
  • Medication errors
  • Improper hand-off procedures
  • Respiratory illness

Defective Medicine or Equipment

Even if the doctors and nurses are doing everything right, a patient can suffer serious injury when there is a problem with their medication or medical equipment. A patient may never suspect their prescription drugs or artificial implant is defective. However, design defects and manufacturing defects can be fatal for unsuspecting patients. These defective drugs and products may even lack the proper labeling and warnings to help avoid unnecessary injury.

Negligent Intubation

‘Intubation’ involves inserting a plastic tube into the airway to help a patient breathe. Intubation is common in serious injuries, during surgery, or when the patient is under anesthesia. Doctors, anesthesiologists, and paramedics regularly intubate patients. When intubation is done negligently, the results can be disastrous.

Anesthesia Errors

Anesthesia is common in most surgical procedures. However, it is still something to be taken very seriously. There are a number of things that can go wrong during anesthesia and can result in brain damage or death. Complications during anesthesia can include intubation injuries, overdose, failure to monitor, and adverse side-effects.

Plastic Surgery Malpractice

More people are getting plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery. Just because it is common does not mean it is always safe. Cosmetic surgery malpractice can lead to a number of serious injuries, including scars, disfigurement, infection, or even death. Some doctors fail to even properly inform patients about the risks of surgery.

How the Illinois Medical Malpractice System Works

The Illinois medical malpractice system is complicated. Learning how to navigate a medical malpractice case takes years of experience, study, learning, and hard work. This information may help you understand the complexity of filing a medical error claim. If you have any other questions, we can help guide you through the system.

An important part of bringing a successful medical malpractice lawsuit is determining whether healthcare errors or negligence caused the injury or death. How do you know who is responsible for a medical injury? To determine whether a doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider is responsible under Illinois medical malpractice laws, it is necessary to look at several things, including:

Generally, the individual care provider is liable for any breaches of care that cause an injury. However, others may also share liability or fault for injuries. If other doctors fail to notice the inadequate care or fail to report malpractice of a colleague, they may also be partially responsible. Additionally, an employer is generally liable for the negligence of an employee. This may mean that the hospital or medical office shares liability for their medical workers’ negligence.

Who is Responsible for Medical Malpractice in Chicago?

Under Illinois law, a ‘health care provider” means “any physician, hospital facility, facility licensed under the Nursing Home Care Act, long-term care facility as defined in Section 1-113 of the Nursing Home Care Act, or other person that is licensed or otherwise authorized to deliver health care services.”
Health care in the U.S. involves many types of providers. Medical workers may operate in a hospital, clinic, pharmacy, counseling office, or even make house calls. Some of the common types of doctors and healthcare providers in Illinois include:

  • General medicine – General practitioners and family practice doctors are doctors who do not specialize in one field of medicine and usually provide routine, primary care healthcare.
  • Internal medicine – A doctor of internal medicine, or internist, treats diseases, infections, and other internal medical conditions and disorders.
  • Emergency room physician – Emergency room doctors provide emergency care to patients in emergency situations, like after a heart attack, car accident, or other serious health emergency.
  • Hospitalist – Hospitalists are doctors who primarily work in hospitals and care for hospitalized patients.
  • Palliative care specialist – Palliative care specialists focus on pain relief of patients through treatment, medication, and other ways to reduce or alleviate a patient’s pain.
  • Pediatrician – Pediatricians are doctors who provide health care to infants, children, and teenagers.
  • Neonatologist – A neonatologist is a type of pediatrician who provides care to newborns, including premature babies or children with birth complications.
  • Intensive care specialist – An intensive care specialist is a doctor who treats patients in serious and life-threatening conditions.
  • Geriatrician – Geriatricians are doctors who focus care on older patients and the elderly.
  • Anesthesiologist – Anesthesiologists provide anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery or other procedures. Care includes monitoring the patient’s vital signs before, during, and after recovery from anesthesia.
  • General surgeon – A general surgeon is a doctor who specializes in surgical procedures.
  • Pediatric cardiologist – Pediatric cardiologists are doctors who provide care to infants, children, and teenagers with a focus on the heart and vascular system.
  • Endocrinologist – Endocrinologists specialize in treating disorders of the glandular system including the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal gland, ovaries, testes, and pancreas.
  • Urologist – A urologist is a doctor who treats conditions involving the urinary tract and reproductive organs.
  • Gastroenterologist – A gastroenterologist, or GI doctor, treats conditions of the digestive or gastrointestinal tract.
  • Pathologist – Pathologists study disease and help diagnose conditions through studying tissue, lab, and fluid samples.
  • Allergist – An allergist specializes in caring for allergies and allergic reactions.
  • Oncologist – An oncologist is a doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.
  • Andrologist – Andrologists are doctors that specialize in the male reproductive system and urology organs.
  • Colorectal surgeon – A colorectal surgeon operates on patients in the lower part of the digestive system, including the colon, large intestine, small intestine, and rectum.
  • Nephrologist – A neprhologist is a doctor that specializes in diseases and conditions involving the kidneys.
  • Hepatologist – Hepatologists diagnose and treat problems involving the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and bile ducts.
  • Cardiologist – Cardiologists are doctors that specialize in diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions of the cardiovascular system including the heart and the body’s blood vessels.
  • Ophthalmologist – Ophthalmologists are doctors that treat conditions of the eyes.
  • Otolaryngologists / ENT – An otolaryngologist is a doctor that treats conditions of the ears, nose, and throat. Sometimes these specialists are known as ENT doctors.
  • Audiologist – An audiologist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats conditions related to hearing and hearing loss.
  • Podiatrist – A podiatrist is a doctor that specializes in conditions of the feet and lower legs.
  • Rheumatologist – Rheumatologists are doctors that treat conditions of the joints, muscles, soft tissue, and bones.
  • Orthopedic surgeon – An orthopedic surgeon operations on conditions of the musculoskeletal system, including bones and joints.
  • Neurosurgeon – A neurosurgeon is a doctor that provides surgical treatment of the nervous system, spine, and brain.
  • Hematologist – A hematologist specialized in the study of blood and blood diseases.
  • Pulmonologist – A pulmonologist is a doctor that diagnoses and treats conditions involving the respiratory system.
  • Radiation oncologist – A radiation oncologist is a doctor that treats cancer with radiation therapy.
  • Fertility specialist – A fertility specialist is a doctor that treats infertility and men and women and helps people conceive.
  • Dermatologist – A dermatologist treats conditions of the skin.
  • OB/GYN – An obstetrician and gynecologist is a doctor that provides reproductive health care for women.
  • Plastic surgeon – A plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon uses surgery to rebuild or reshape the body.
  • Dentist – A dentist provides oral health care.
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgeon – An oral and maxillofacial surgeon specializes in treating a variety of conditions of the teeth, mouth, jaw, and face.
  • Periodontist – A periodontist specializes in the care of the mouth and gums.
  • Dental anesthesiologist – A dental anesthesiologist uses anesthesia for patients undergoing oral surgery or treatments.
  • General psychiatrist – Psychiatrists are doctors that diagnose and treat conditions involving mental health or behavior disorders.
  • Radiologist – A radiologist is a doctor that specializes in imaging to diagnose and treat health conditions, including x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and other imaging tests.
  • Pharmacist – Pharmacists are responsible for preparing and dispensing medications, and counseling patients about the use of medications.
  • Geriatric psychiatrist – A geriatric psychiatrist provides psychiatric care to older and elderly patients.
  • Chiropractor – A chiropractor diagnoses and treats conditions involving the musculoskeletal system.
  • Acupuncturist – An acupuncturist performs alternative medicine by inserting very thin needles into specific places on the body.
  • Physical therapist – A physical therapist (PT) can help patients overcome injuries or improve physical abilities.
  • Occupational therapist – Occupational therapists treat patients and help them to participate in the normal activities of daily life.
  • Physician’s assistant – A physician’s assistant, or PA, has a more limited scope of practice than a doctor but can still provide much of a patient’s medical care.
  • Nurse – Nurses provide a lot of care to patients in many different areas of healthcare.

In order to be licensed to practice medicine in Illinois, doctors have to go through medical school, complete licensing exams, and be approved by the medical board. Medical school usually takes 4 years but med school grads still generally need another 3 to 7 years of residence before they can become a doctor. Doctors can go to medical school for training in any state and some foreign countries. Medical schools in Illinois include:

Imbalance of Power in Medical Care

There is an imbalance of power between patients and doctors in the U.S. Doctors do not always take the time to talk to patients, answer their questions, or address their concerns. A patient who is unhappy with their care may have limited options, especially when they are limited by the insurance companies. Hospitals and the insurance companies also stand on the side of the healthcare industry instead of supporting patients.

It can be hard for patients and their family members to get answers after a medical injury. The hospital, doctors, and nurses may not tell the patient what really happened. The healthcare industry may also make it hard for the patient’s family to find out what went wrong, if the accident could have been prevented, and who is responsible for the damage.

For some injury victims, the only way to get help is through contacting an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Your lawyer understands how to get a copy of all the relevant records, how to identify possible errors, and how to get the doctors and hospitals to answer your questions. When the hospital gets a letter from a well-respected medical malpractice law firm, they begin to take the situation very seriously.

After an injury or fatal medical error, some family members may want to try and put the accident behind them. There are some important reasons why you should make sure to hold the health care provider accountable for their actions. Medical errors can be costly, even minor injuries can be expensive, with loss of income, medical bills, and future medical treatment. A medical malpractice lawsuit may be the best way to make sure your losses are covered.

Another reason to file a claim is that your lawsuit may help protect other patients in the future. A medical malpractice lawsuit may make the hospital think twice about their procedures and make changes that improve patient safety. A lawsuit against a dangerous doctor could also make the state medical board take action to keep other patients away from dangerous medical errors.

When is Medical Care Considered Malpractice in Illinois?

Doctors are not trying to actively injury patients. Medical malpractice involves negligence. Negligence is the breach of care that causes an injury. Like a personal injury lawsuit, the injury victim has to show that the health care provider breached the standards of care, which caused the injury, and resulted in damages.

Example of Negligent Medical Care

For example, a patient goes to the doctor for a check-up. The patient tells the doctor he has been having trouble urinating, unexplained loss of weight, and noticed blood in the urine. The doctor tells the patient to take some vitamins and come back in 6 months. After a few months, the patient’s symptoms get worse and the patient goes to the ER. An emergency room doctor tells the patient they have advanced prostate cancer.
If the patient had found out about the prostate cancer a few months earlier, they may have had more treatment options and a better chance of recovery. If the doctor failed to properly evaluate the patient’s symptoms, failed to follow-up, or failed to order diagnostic tests, the doctor may have breached their duty to the patient. The doctor may be liable to the patient for damages.

Evaluating Standards of Care With an Expert Witness

Most medical malpractice cases use expert witnesses in preparing the case and presenting the case to a jury. An expert witness is a party who specializes or practices in a particular field. Expert witnesses are used to explain technical or complex ideas to the average jury member.

In a medical malpractice claim, the expert witness is usually practicing or working in the same specialty as the doctors in question. For example, if the injury victim is suing a plastic surgeon for a medical error, the plaintiff’s lawyer will engage an experienced plastic surgeon to provide an expert opinion on the care provided by the defendant. The expert can explain how the doctor deviated from standard practices and how it caused the patient’s injuries.

An expert evaluation is required when the plaintiff’s lawyer files the complaint. An expert will also provide an expert report in support of the plaintiff’s claim. The defendants will get an opportunity to talk to the expert during a deposition. The defendants will generally have their own expert witnesses to testify in support of the defendant’s case. Finally, during a trial, the expert can testify to the judge and jury about their evaluation of the patient’s case.

Chicago Hospitals and Medical Centers

As one of the biggest cities in the country, Chicago has many hospitals. There are some of the most well-known and respected hospitals in the country, as well as some hospitals with not so great of a reception. However, it is important to understand that medical errors can occur in any hospital, even the best hospital under the care of the best doctor. Some of the largest hospitals in Chicago include:

  • Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
  • Advocate Trinity Hospital
  • AMITA Health Resurrection Medical Center Chicago
  • AMITA Health Saint Joseph Hospital Chicago
  • AMITA Health Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center
  • Community First Medical Center
  • Holy Cross Hospital
  • Humboldt Park Health
  • Jackson Park Hospital
  • John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County
  • Loretto Hospital
  • Mercy Hospital & Medical Center
  • Methodist Hospital of Chicago
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  • Provident Hospital of Cook County
  • Roseland Community Hospital
  • Rush University Medical Center
  • Saint Anthony Hospital
  • Saint Bernard Hospital and Health Care Center
  • South Shore Hospital
  • Swedish Hospital
  • Thorek Memorial Hospital
  • UChicago Medicine
  • University of Illinois Medical Center
  • Weiss Memorial Hospital

The largest hospitals in Chicago include Northwestern, University of Chicago Hospitals, and Rush University Medical Center. These are also major teaching hospitals, where medical interns and residents train and learn to become doctors and specialists. The following provides information on the location and number of beds for these hospitals.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Approximately 908 staffed beds
251 East Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 926-2000

Rush University Medical Center
Approximately 697 staffed beds
1620 West Harrison Street
Chicago, IL 60612
(312) 942-5000

UChicago Medicine
Approximately 678 staffed beds
5841 South Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 702-1000

Examples of Medical Malpractice in Illinois

There are many common examples of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice can involve any type of medical care, including prehospital care, surgery, or dispensing medication. Even a minor error can have tragic consequences and the medical professionals should be held accountable for their actions. Some common examples of medical malpractice in Chicago include:

Birth Injuries in Illinois

Birth injuries are all too common and unfortunately, many of them are avoidable. Many birth injuries can be avoided by proper prenatal care, testing, and monitoring. If there are increased risks of childbirth, the doctors should be able to prepare for complications. Some birth complications include:

  • Abnormal birth positions or presentation
  • Larger than average size baby
  • Smaller cervical opening
  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Infections
  • Lack of oxygen
  • Uterine rupture
  • Placental abruption
  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Head trauma
  • Premature delivery
  • Hemorrhage
  • C-section delivery

The causes of many birth injuries are due to medical errors. This could include a doctor’s failure to diagnose, failure to properly monitor the mother and baby, delayed emergency delivery, or improper delivery techniques. Unfortunately, the extent of many birth injuries is not known for years. Some brain injuries may be difficult to identify until the child develops. Developmental delays may show the extent of damage years after the medical error occurred.

Surgical Error Malpractice

Surgery always carries some level of risk. Surgery may involve opening up the body to outside infections, including bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections. Proper sterilization and cleaning procedures are important in reducing the risk of infection. Negligently performed surgery may also do internal damage. This could include puncturing an organ or operating on the wrong body part.

It is hard to believe, but wrong site surgical errors are not uncommon. A patient could go under anesthesia to have a right foot amputated and wake up to find their left foot missing. Doctors also mix up patients or procedures, removing the healthy organs of a patient instead of the cancerous organs of another patient.

Diagnostic Error Malpractice

Diagnostic tests are important for helping identify diseases and medical conditions. This includes blood tests, testing vital signs, urine testing, tissue samples, imaging scans, and cultures. If a doctor fails to order the proper tests or fails to properly evaluate the test results, this can cause serious damage in a patient. In some cases, important test results may not be properly communicated to other healthcare staff during hand-off procedures.

Cancer Diagnosis Malpractice

Delayed cancer diagnosis or improper cancer diagnosis is a cause of serious medical harm. There are signs and symptoms of many types of cancer that can be evaluated to identify cancerous tumors or tissue for proper treatment. Delayed diagnosis of cancer can leave the victim with fewer treatment options, allow the cancer to spread, or be too late to do anything and the patient will die.

Prescription Error Malpractice

Dangerous drug interactions can be fatal. This can occur when a patient is taking more than one medication that has a harmful effect when combined with other drugs or substances. A patient may have no idea that two common drugs can be harmful when combined. If the doctor or pharmacist fails to warn a patient about dangerous drug interactions, they may be liable to the injury victim for damages.

Other prescription errors can involve writing the wrong prescription, using improper abbreviations, issuing the wrong dose or wrong frequency, or failing to properly monitor a patient for side effects of the drug.

Emergency Room Malpractice

An emergency room (ER) can seem hectic but there are standard procedures doctors, ER techs, and nurses are supposed to follow to keep patients safe. When an emergency room doctor fails to properly evaluate a patient or misdiagnosed a serious condition, it can be fatal. Problems in the emergency room can include discharging a patient too early, failure to monitor a patient, patient mix-ups, improper medication delivery, and even patient abuse.

Hospital Injury Malpractice

Hospitals in Illinois are responsible for patient safety. Many hospital malpractice injuries involve hospitals and medical facilities trying to cut costs and cut corners. A lot of hospital injuries are caused by failure to properly monitor and care for patients. Lack of staffing and improper training can lead to patients being ignored even when they are having a medical emergency. This can also increase the risk of bed sores, infection, and fall injuries. Lack of proper cleaning procedures can increase the spread of infection, especially for people with compromised immune systems.

Anesthesia Malpractice

Many people don’t give a second thought about anesthesia because it is so common. However, anesthesia is a serious process that puts the patient at risk of serious harm or death. Anesthesia often involves a number of drugs to immobilize a patient, make them lose consciousness, and avoid the patient feeling any pain. However, too much anesthesia can lead to cardiac arrest, hypoxia, or death. Anesthesia malpractice may also involve negligent intubation from improperly intubating a patient during surgery.

Left Behind Surgical Item Malpractice

Another unbelievable but all too common surgical problem involves retained foreign objects. During surgery, the doctors may be using sponges, cloths, needles, scissors and other devices inside the patient’s body. In some cases, a foreign object will be left behind and the patient stitched up with a medical item left inside. A retained foreign object can cause serious pain, infection, and permanent damage. In some cases, it may be years before the problem is even identified.

Lack of Informed Consent Malpractice

Lack of informed consent may also be a type of surgical malpractice. Doctors have a duty to inform the patient of the risks and benefits of a procedure. This allows the patient to make an informed decision about their care. If the doctor fails to get consent or fails to properly inform a patient of the risks of surgery, an injured patient could file a claim for damages against the negligent doctor.

Lack of informed consent malpractice is common with cosmetic surgery. Plastic surgeons sometimes overpromise the results of a procedure. If the surgeon minimizes the risks and the patient suffers harm, the surgeon may be liable for damages. Cosmetic surgery risks include risk of infection, disfigurement, scarring, nerve damage, chronic pain, and anesthesia injuries.

Many plastic surgery malpractice victims are hesitant to come forward because of shame or embarrassment. These victims often blame themselves for the doctors’ errors. It is important to come forward with your claim to help protect other patients from similar disfiguring injuries and compensate your losses.

Can I Be Partially to Blame for My Injuries? Can I Still Recover Money in an Illinois Medical Malpractice Case?

In some cases, an injury victim can be partially to blame for their own injuries. However, just because you share some amount of fault does not mean that you cannot recover damages. When the plaintiff shares in negligence causing an injury or illness, it is known as contributory negligence.

Under Illinois law, “‘Contributory fault’ means any fault on the part of the plaintiff (including but not limited to negligence, assumption of the risk, or willful and wanton misconduct) which is a proximate cause of the death, bodily injury to person, or physical damage to property for which recovery is sought.”

During a jury trial, the jury determines if each party is at fault and the percentage of fault each party is responsible for, adding up to 100%. The plaintiff’s level of fault is their contributory fault. Contributor fault to the plaintiff is compared with the fault of all parties.

If the plaintiff’s contributory fault is more than 50% of the proximate cause of the injury, the plaintiff cannot recover damages. If the plaintiff is 50% or less at fault for the injury or damage, the amount of damages recoverable is reduced by that percentage.

Below is an example of contributory negligence in a personal injury case in Illinois. Plaintiff suffered $100,000 in damages and the Plaintiff and Defendant all share some fault in causing the injury.

Plaintiff’s Fault (%) Defendant’s Fault (%) Amount Plaintiff Can Recover in Damages
Example 1: 10% 90% $90,000
Example 2: 40% 60% $60,000
Example 3: 52% 48% $0
Recovering Damages When Multiple Doctors are At Fault

In many complex medical malpractice cases, there is more than one defendant. There may have been multiple mistakes made in the patient’s care that all contributed to the patient’s injuries. Each party who is liable for the patient’s injuries may be included in the medical malpractice lawsuit.

It is up to the jury to determine who is at fault for the accident. The jury may find multiple parties shared in causing the accident and will allocate fault between the parties. When recovering damages, the injury victim may be able to get all or some of the damages from a single defendant even if multiple defendants were at fault. This is known as joint and several liability.

Joint and several liability takes the burden of collecting money damages off of the plaintiff. With joint and several liability, the plaintiff can collect from each defendant or any one defendant. It is up to the defendants to try and settle the amounts owed between them without having to burden the injury victim.

Illinois has modified joint and several liability. If any defendant is found 25% or more at fault for the damages, the defendant may be liable for all monetary damages. If a defendant is less than 25% responsible, they are liable for all medical damages but only proportionally liable for their share of non-medical damages.

Below is an example of joint and several liability in a personal injury case in Illinois. Plaintiff suffered $100,000 in total damages ($50,000 in medical damages and $50,000 in loss of income). Defendant A and Defendant B share some fault in causing the injury.

Defendant A’s Fault (%) Defendant B’s Fault (%) Amount Plaintiff Can Recover from Defendant A
Example 1: 50% 50% $100,000
Example 2: 20% 80% $60,000 ($50,000 in medical damages but only 20% of loss of income damages, or $10,000)
Example 3: 1% 99% ($50,500 in medical damages but only 1% of loss of income damages, or $500)
Getting Help For Your Chicago Medical Malpractice Case

Your Chicago medical malpractice law firm can help guide you through the complex legal process. When we take on your case, we are fully prepared to fight for you and your family. Most medical malpractice and personal injury cases settle before ever going to trial. A settlement can provide money to you and your family without having to go through the long and drawn-out process of a trial. However, if the settlement offer is not enough to provide for your losses, we are prepared to take your case all the way, to fight for a jury verdict that will deliver full compensation. There are not a lot of lawyers with in-depth medical malpractice trial experience. At Gilman and Bedigian, we are particularly experienced in complicated cases that go all the way to trial.

Medical malpractice cases take a lot of time and resources. However, we handle our cases on a contingency basis. This means that you do not have to pay anything until we win your case. Our law firm has the resources to provide for expert review and all the costs necessary to build a strong case. During these difficult times, your time and efforts should be devoted to healing and helping your loved ones to recover.

Bringing a Claim for Medical Malpractice in Chicago

If someone in Chicago or Illinois is injured because of a medical error, they can make a medical malpractice claim for damages. A successful malpractice claim can award the injury victim or their family with money to pay for the damages and losses caused by the medical error. The following is an overview of the process of bringing a claim for medical malpractice in Chicago.

Plaintiff and Defendant

The plaintiff is the person who files a complaint to start the lawsuit. In a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff is usually the patient or patient’s family. The plaintiff or injury victim is making a claim against the parties who caused the injury because of a medical error or malpractice.

The defendant is the person or business named in the lawsuit who allegedly is responsible for the damages. The defendant could be a doctor, nurse, or organization like a hospital. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff could identify many defendants because it may be unclear exactly who was responsible for the injury or multiple parties may share in the liability.

Litigating Medical Malpractice Cases in Illinois

Litigation is the legal process of taking a case through the legal system. The medical malpractice lawyer begins the legal process by filing a lawsuit. A complaint lays out the basis for the claim and informs the defendants and court that the plaintiff will be seeking damages. The defendants then respond to the complaint with an “answer.” The complaint and answer may then be amended or revised based on additional information.

Medical malpractice cases are special because there are heightened pleading standards. A plaintiff needs to file an “Affidavit of Merit” with the complaint. An affidavit of merit requires the case to be reviewed by a doctor or healthcare professional to say there is a reasonable claim for the lawsuit.

Under Illinois statute 735 ILCS 5/2-622, in any case where the plaintiff seeks damages for injuries or death by a medical, hospital, or healing art malpractice, the plaintiff’s attorney shall file an affidavit declaring the plaintiff’s lawyer has consulted and reviewed the facts of the case with a health professional, who the plaintiff’s attorney believes:

  1. Is knowledgeable in the relevant issues involved;
  2. Practices or has practiced or teaches or taught within the last 6 years in the same area of health care or medicine that is at issue in the particular action;
  3. Is qualified by experience or demonstrated competence in the subject of the case; that the reviewing health professional has determined in a written report, after a review of the medical record and other relevant material involved in the action that there is a reasonable and meritorious cause for the filing of such an action.

There are some limited exceptions for failing to get an affidavit of merit, such as where a consultation could not be obtained because the statute of limitations would have run out or where medical records were not provided as required.

Discovery in Medical Negligence Trials

Both parties then go through “discovery,” or the process of exchanging information and gathering evidence. Discovery in a medical malpractice trial relies on medical records, doctor’s notes, hospital procedures, employment records, and any other evidence that is relevant to the case.

Discovery materials are not always easily exchanged. One party may refuse to turn over relevant documents. If the information is not provided, the lawyer can file a subpoena, or a written court order that requires the party to produce the records or documents.

The parties can request answers to specific questions, or interrogatories. Written responses are considered to be under oath and can be used in court. Parties and witnesses may also be interviewed under oath during a deposition. A plaintiff, defendant, or other witness may be asked questions by the opposition’s lawyer. The answers are given under oath and can be used later in court.

After all the materials are provided and reviewed, they may be reviewed by expert witnesses. Expert witnesses in a medical malpractice case are usually doctors or medical professionals with experience in the specific type of case. The experts will provide a written report with their findings and the experts may also be questioned by the opposing counsel.

The health of the plaintiff may be at issue in the lawsuit and a medical exam may be required. Another doctor may examine the plaintiff and evaluate their injuries and medical conditions. The doctor may then produce a medical report for review by opposing counsel.

At any point before the case is decided by the judge or jury, the parties can settle the case. Most medical malpractice cases in Illinois are settled before trial. Less than about 10% of cases are decided by a jury. The parties can negotiate for a settlement amount that the plaintiff will agree to. It is up to the plaintiff and not the lawyer to decide whether or not to accept the settlement.

If the parties agree to a settlement, then the case is over. The defendant will agree to release their legal claims as part of the settlement.

Medical Malpractice Trials in Chicago

If the parties cannot agree to a settlement offer, the case may proceed to trial. Trials can be heard by a jury or judge. In general, plaintiffs prefer to have their case heard by a jury of their peers.

Before a trial begins, there will be pretrial litigation. This involves a number of motions or oppositions that are determined by the judge. For example, a plaintiff’s lawyer may want to use certain evidence that shows the doctor had made similar mistakes in the past. The defendant’s lawyer may oppose use of this damaging evidence and file a motion to suppress to keep the evidence away from the jury. The judge will make a decision on these pretrial motions before the case goes to a jury.

A trial can be a long and complicated process, with multiple witnesses and experts talking about the medical error and how the plaintiff suffered. A trial can also be very stressful for the injury victim. At the end of the trial, the jury or judge will make a decision to find for the plaintiff or the defendants. The jury can also determine which parties were at fault and the percentage of fault. The jury will also determine the amount of damages to award if they find for the plaintiff.

Even after a jury decision, the case may not be totally over. Some cases are appealed by the losing party. Either party can appeal the decision and the appeal will be determined by a judge. In some cases, the case may have to be heard all over again by a new jury. Medical malpractice cases in Chicago can be very complex. Talk to your Chicago, Illinois medical malpractice lawyer if you have any questions about the legal process.

Elements of a Chicago Medical Malpractice Claim

In order to bring a medical malpractice claim against a doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider, the plaintiff must show the following elements:

  1. Duty
  2. Breach
  3. Causation
  4. Harm
  5. Deviation from Standard Medical Practices
1. A Duty Was Owed

The defendant must owe a duty to the plaintiff to act or not act in a certain way. For medical malpractice cases, the defendant is usually a doctor who owed the patient a duty to provide medical care within the accepted standard of care. Doctors and medical professionals are held to a higher standard because of the special nature of the doctor-patient relationship.

2. The Duty of Care Was Breached

The next element of a medical malpractice claim is to show the defendant breached the duty of care to the patient. If the doctor failed to provide the proper care or did something that was unreasonable under the circumstances, they may have breached their duty of care to the patient.

3. The Breach Caused an Injury

The breach of duty must also have caused an injury. If the patient suffered an injury unrelated to the breach of care, the plaintiff may not have a claim against the doctor. The plaintiff has to show causation where the breach was a proximate cause of the injury.

4. The Injury Resulted in Damages

For a malpractice claim, the plaintiff has to suffer an injury where damage occurred. Damage could include anything from unnecessary pain, additional procedures to correct the error, inability to work, hospitalization costs, scarring, or disfigurement.

5. Deviation From Accepted Standard of Care

Medical malpractice cases are unique because they involve a breach of the standards of care. The action or failure to act of a medical professional must have been a deviation from the accepted standard for the medical care being provided. If the doctor followed the standards of care and did not make a mistake or error, the doctor is generally not liable for damages.

Example of Medical Malpractice Elements

As an example, consider Patient who is going in for a surgical procedure. Surgeon owes Patient a duty of care to follow the proper cleaning and sterilization procedures for the surgery. If the Surgeon does not wash their hands before surgery, that may be considered a deviation from the accepted standard of care. If the Surgeon performs the operation without washing hands, that may be considered a breach of the duty owed to the Patient.

If the Patient develops an infection, it may be caused by the unwashed hands. If the Patient has to stay in the hospital for an extra 3 days because of the infection and is unable to work, those may be considered damages. In this case, the Patient may be able to make a medical malpractice claim against the Surgeon for damages.

Damages in a Chicago Medical Malpractice Claim

Damages are the losses and costs associated with a medical malpractice injury. Damages are supposed to compensate the injury victim and put them into a similar position they would have been but for the injury. Damages can include both economic and non-economic losses. In some cases, even punitive damages may be available.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the financial losses caused by an injury. This includes money paid out because of the injury, outstanding bills, and future costs of the injury. Showing past and current economic damages usually involves providing bills or receipts. Showing future economic damages usually requires an expert witness to testify on the likely future value of damages. Economic damages in a medical malpractice case can include:

  • Medical Expenses: Medical expenses can be very high in a medical injury case. The injury victim may have to have continuing medical treatment for the rest of their lives. Medical costs include past expenses, current bills, and future costs for care. Damages for medical expenses can include emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, physical therapy, medication, medical equipment, and any other medical care.
  • Future Medical Care: Medical damages can include future medical costs based on the victim’s medical needs and future calculations. Medical experts and financial experts can use their experience to provide a guide on what type of care will be needed in the future, how long the care will continue, and the projected costs of care. This means that for children who suffer a birth injury, future medical care could end up costing millions of dollars.
  • Lost Wages: A medical injury can leave the victim unable to work. Some injuries require temporary time off. Serious injuries may lead to permanent disability. Lost wages are based on the worker’s average income before the accident. If the injury victim is never able to work again, lost wages could include estimated wages for the rest of the plaintiff’s life.
  • Loss of Income Potential: Future damages in a medical malpractice case may include the loss of income potential. For example, if a child is injured and unable to work in the future, loss of income potential could be based on average incomes, the individual child’s future, and life expectancy.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are damages without a clear dollar value but are still clearly damages. If someone is suffering serious pain, they deserve compensation for their suffering but it may be difficult to say exactly how much their suffering is valued. Juries can determine the amount of non-economic damages a plaintiff can receive based on the individual situation.

Non-economic damages are generally related to physical injuries after a medical mistake. These accidents can leave the injury victim suffering chronic pain and physical harm that may be permanent. Non-economic damages in Illinois can include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering is common in medical malpractice cases. Victims can get compensated for pain and suffering they experienced and are reasonably certain to experience in the future.
  • Loss of Normal Life: Some injuries can temporarily or permanently lead to a loss of a normal life. Before a medical malpractice accident, the plaintiff may have had few limitations, and could fully participate in the activities they loved, including sports, recreation, travel, and spending time with friends and family. Medical malpractice injuries can take away that freedom, limiting their ability to pursue a normal life.
  • Disfigurement: Medical malpractice injuries can leave the victim disfigured. Disfigurement could include scarring, loss of a limb, or other physical impairment. The victim may have to live with the disfigurement for the rest of their life.
  • Disability: Many malpractice injuries leave the victim disabled. Physical and mental disabilities after an accident may leave the victim unable to do the tasks they used to do, or require assistance to work, learn, or do daily activities. Disability damages may depend on the extent of disability and how permanent the disability will be.

Other non-economic damages in an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit may include loss of consortium. Loss of consortium is generally available to the spouse of the injury victim. A spouse may also suffer losses after their loved one is injured, including the loss of support, companionship, and sexual relationship after the injury or death of a spouse.

Punitive Damages and Exemplary Damages

Punitive damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer. Also called exemplary damages, this is a financial penalty for the defendants to dissuade those responsible from repeating what they did. Punitive damages can also help avoid similar injuries in the future. However, punitive damages are rare in medical malpractice cases.

Punitive damages for medical error injuries in Illinois are generally limited to cases of extreme or outrageous actions. Punitive damages may also be available where there is intentional harm or fraud. For example, if a doctor made a mistake that injured a patient and then changed the medical records to hide their mistake, that type of intentional fraud may help the injury victim seek additional damages.

Cap on Illinois Medical Malpractice Damages

Some states have a cap on the amount of non-economic damages available in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Illinois used to have a cap non economic damages for injuries like disfigurement, loss of normal life, and pain and suffering. However, the Illinois Supreme Court declared damages caps to be unconstitutional. Currently, there is no damages cap for non-economic damages in a medical malpractice case filed since 2010.

Damages in a Chicago Wrongful Death Claim

If the injury victim dies because of the medical error, they may not be alive to file a personal injury lawsuit. In Illinois, the Wrongful Death Act allows family members to recover for financial losses suffered because of the death. The surviving spouse or other family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent doctors and hospitals to recover damages. Damages in a wrongful death case may include:

  • Burial costs
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of income from the decedent
  • Loss of services
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of consortium

Like most other personal injury claims in Illinois, there is a 2-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim. A surviving spouse or relative can file a wrongful death for up to 2 years after the death of the family member. Minors may be able to file a wrongful death claim within 2 years after they turn 18. There may be exceptions to these time limits so contact your Chicago wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to make sure your claim is not denied.

Statute of Limitations in Chicago Medical Malpractice Cases

There is a limited amount of time for an injury victim to file a claim in a medical malpractice case. The time limit is known as the “statute of limitations.” If a lawsuit is filed too late, even by one day, the injury victim may be barred from recovering any damages. This is why it is important to act quickly in finding the right lawyer for you so the claim will be filed in time to recover compensation.

Under Illinois statute 735 ILCS 5/13-212, most medical malpractice claims have a 2-year statute of limitations. This means that the victim in a medical mistake accident has 2 years from the injury to file a lawsuit against the doctors, nurses, hospital, or healthcare provider. However, there are some exceptions to the 2-year time limit.

There is a discovery rule that applies to some medical error injuries. The time limit does not begin to run until the injury victim knows about or reasonably should have known about the injury. However, even with a later discovery of the injury or medical error, no claim can be brought more than 4 years from the date the medical error occurred.

For example, Christopher has a surgery on March 1, 2016. A year later Christopher begins to feel stomach pain and goes to the doctor. On July 1, 2017, Christopher’s doctor says that scissors were left behind in the body during surgery. Christopher would have to file a lawsuit before July 1, 2019.

Statute of Limitations for Minors

When a child is injured because of a medical error, they may have more time to file a lawsuit. Under Illinois law, minor victims of medical malpractice under the age of 18 have up to 8 years from the date of the injury to file a claim. However, no action for an injury to a minor may be filed after the minor victim reaches the age of 22.

For example, Jennifer is injured because of a failure to diagnose an infection when she is 16 years old. Jennifer would have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit before her 22nd birthday. If she files a lawsuit on her 22nd birthday or later, the court may dismiss the claim as time barred.

In a birth injury, when a child suffers an injury during labor or delivery, the child would have to file a medical malpractice claim before the child turns 8-years-old. Even though the child is still a minor, the statute of limitations for minors is only 8 years.

Other Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations Exceptions

There may be additional exceptions or different time limits if the victim suffers a disability caused by a medical error. Intentional fraud by the doctor or hospital may also give the injury victim more time to file a medical malpractice claim.

Finding the Right Chicago Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Many people have never had the experience of finding a medical malpractice attorney. Getting the right lawyer for your case is a critical step to recovering damages. Medical malpractice claims can take years so it is important that you feel confident in your attorney. Make sure you ask questions before deciding which law firm to hire.

What type of law does the lawyer or law firm practice?

Medical malpractice cases are different from other legal practice areas. Lawyers who practice primarily medical malpractice focus on this area of law because it is so specialized and complex. You may not want someone who handles real estate law, trusts and estates, or criminal defense to take on a complex malpractice claim.

A lawyer with a focus on med mal claims should be well-versed in the law and medicine. They often work directly with experts, doctors, and healthcare practitioners. Experienced lawyers also understand the extent of damages that may be involved and will fight to get you the maximum compensation for your medical injuries.

Does the law firm have the resources for my case?

Medical malpractice claims are long and complex and take a lot of resources. The law firm may have to have multiple medical experts review the case. It can take years before a case finally makes it to a jury. Even after a jury decision, there may be lengthy appeals before the injury victim finally gets their full compensation. Not all law firms can handle the expenses and time commitment it takes to build a strong case and see it through to the end.

Do I feel comfortable with the attorney and their staff?

Medical malpractice cases can be very personal. Injury victims may have to talk about their sensitive injuries and how the medical accident impacted their life. With so much at stake, you should feel confident and comfortable with your lawyer. You should also feel comfortable with the law firm’s paralegals and support staff you may be in direct contact with. Make sure the lawyer will be available to answer your questions and concerns, at any time.

Chicago Medical Malpractice Law Firm

Many injury victims do not even know they were injured because of a medical error. At Gilman & Bedigian, our experienced trial lawyers have helped our clients and their families recover millions of dollars in compensation after a birth injury or medical mistake. We have years of experience serving Chicago injury victims and their families. Contact us online or call our law office at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.

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