From 2009 to 2018, nearly 2.4 billion dollars in damages were paid out to medical malpractice claimants in Illinois. Every year, thousands of medical malpractice claims are filed, taken through litigation, and settled.
Generally, medical malpractice is considered a type of personal injury claim, which includes damages to a person’s body, emotions, or reputation. Medical Malpractice scenarios can very quickly become incredibly complicated and stressful situations considering the context and nature of the healthcare profession, and navigating the nuances of medical malpractice can be an insurmountable task for many. Personal injury law and medical malpractice claims are designed to help and protect those injured or harmed because of the negligence of a healthcare professional or provider by awarding victims compensatory and punitive damages.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is typically defined as an act or omission by a medical professional during the treatment of a patient that shifts from accepted standards of procedure in the medical community and causes an injury to the patient. Medical malpractice is a specific subset of tort law that deals with professional responsibility and negligence.
Negligence is essentially when a person lacks care or acts without it and another ends up being damaged because of that action. The law of negligence requires the perpetrator to compensate the person injured as a result of his or her action or omission. To achieve monetary recompense for an injury related to medical negligence, a patient must prove that substandard medical care was provided and that it caused an injury to the patient. When determining the value of a medical malpractice case, damages taken into account include economic losses such as lost income and the cost of past and future medical care, as well as non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress.
What are Some Common Types of Medical Malpractice?
- Misdiagnosis: neglect to diagnose an illness is a common medical misstep. The most commonly misdiagnosed conditions are heart attack and cancer. The failure to diagnose these types of life-threatening conditions can have severe consequences and cause fatal injuries or accidents.
- Failure to treat: this error can occur when a doctor accurately diagnosed a condition, but then fails to treat it in accordance with the sufficient standard of care for that condition. Discharging a patient too soon, or the deficiency of followup care can make conditions more threatening and direct to injury.
- Birth injuries: A significant part of medical malpractice claims are for childbirth-related medical mistakes. Conditions such as shoulder dystocia or other nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and cephalohematoma are common birth injuries caused by medical errors.
- Prescription errors: prescribing the wrong medication, incorrectly dosing, or incorrectly administering a prescription drug can be a common example of medical malpractice, with often times severe and sometimes fatal consequences.
- Surgical errors: can include left tools or materials inside the body during surgery. It can also occur that a wrong operation was performed.
- Dental errors: are incredibly common forms of malpractice that occur for a variety of reasons and a wide variety of ways. Dental patients can suffer serious harm if a dentist misdiagnosis a condition or incorrectly administers anesthesia, to name a few.
How Can I Prove a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Compiling all of the evidence necessary to prove a medical malpractice claim can be tricky. In order to demonstrate medical malpractice, a patient must be able to demonstrate medical negligence on the part of their healthcare provider. To show negligence and support your case, you need to collect medical records and other relevant evidence.
These documents can be notes, test results, prescriptions, consultation records, evaluations, and more. Accessing and requesting a copy of your medical records is the first step in gathering evidence. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensures patients the right to view their medical records, get copies, and make corrections free of charge. HIPAA guarantees that patients and representatives have access to their full medical profiles, billing information, and any other records maintained in a patient’s file by a healthcare provider.
How Can I Request Copies of My Medical Records?
- Determine which provider is storing your records. This could be the doctor’s office you visited or even the Records Department at a Hospital.
- Complete an authorization form for the release of medical information. Some providers will have specific forms, or you can find many authorization form templates online.
- Specify exactly what records you wish to receive.
- Deliver the executed authorization form to the Medical Records Department of your healthcare provider’s facility.
What Other Types of Evidence Can Help My Case?
Another strong piece of supporting evidence for a medical malpractice claim is the testimony of an Expert Witness. Expert Witnesses are individuals qualified as an expert in their respective field of study as a result of their knowledge, skill, experience, training, and/or education. During the course of litigating a medical malpractice claim, an expert in healthcare or a related field of practice can be used to testify in the form of his professional opinion or provide testimony as to the scientific standards or standards of care that should be applied in a particular case.
Medical experts may include doctors, nurses, or other medically trained professionals. These individuals can provide their expert opinion on the alleged malpractice to further explain to a jury, oftentimes in more understandable terms, how the injury or instance of malpractice has affected the victim. Medical experts can also give more insight into the medical records of the patient and further explain how the related injuries could cause emotional distress, or limit the person’s ability to continue to function in their typical daily activities, which can assist in bolstering claims for pain and suffering.
Medical Malpractice Insurance
Like many other professionals, most doctors carry a medical malpractice insurance policy that will assist in covering costs associated with liability in a malpractice claim and mounting a defense. Medical malpractice insurance provides coverage to physicians and other medical professionals for liability arising from services that result in a patient’s injury or death. Interestingly, Illinois law does not mandate that medical providers carry malpractice insurance to practice in the state. Nevertheless, many physicians opt to get malpractice insurance to protect them and allow them to work in hospitals that typically require providers to have malpractice insurance.
Dealing with insurance can quickly make seeking compensation for a malpractice claim a difficult, sometimes insurmountable task. Insurance companies will often offer lower amounts to unrepresented parties, and may be less cooperative in settlement discussions. An experienced personal injury attorney from Trent Law Firm can help you maximize the compensation you deserve for your malpractice incident, and ensure that no money is left on the table.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim?
In Illinois, the statute of limitations prevents a patient from filing an action to recover from said malpractice greater than 2 years after the discovery of said malpractice. It is recommended to pursue all available legal remedies in order to ensure you receive rightful compensation and to cover all of the related costs and and medical expenses that were incurred as a result of the medical malpractice event.
Incidents of medical malpractice can be some of the most damaging and dangerous personal injury cases. Medical malpractice can affect the overall health of a patient in drastic ways in the short-term, long-term, and even sometimes resulting in permanent damages. If you have been a victim of medical malpractice and believe you may have a claim for damages, contact the experienced and dedicated Personal Injury Attorneys at Trent Law Firm to discuss your case and how our tenacious team of attorneys may be able to help. Call (866) 599-8601 for a free and confidential consultation.