Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider (doctor, nurse, aide, institution, etc.) is medically negligent when caring for a patient, resulting in injury or death of the patient. If this has happened to you, you may consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the healthcare provider. Here are some things you need to know when planning to file a malpractice claim in Illinois.
Statute of Limitations
The standard filing deadline in Illinois is two years; meaning that you must begin your lawsuit against the health care provider within two years of when you discovered, became aware of, or should have become aware of the provider’s malpractice. If it has been more than four years since the malpractice occurred, regardless of when you discovered the malpractice, you are barred from filing a malpractice suit against the provider.
Patients who are minors (under 18) at the time medical malpractice occurs, have eight years to file a malpractice suit and must file before the patient reaches the age of 22.
Affidavit of Merit
The state of Illinois requires that alongside a medical malpractice lawsuit the plaintiff must file an affidavit confirming that the plaintiff’s attorney or affiant has reviewed the case with a qualified healthcare provider who recently has or currently does practice or teach medicine, in the area of medicine relevant to the case; has thorough knowledge of the medical issues pertaining to the case; and is competent and experienced. The affidavit must also include a written report from consulted medical professional, stating that he or she believes that there is reasonable cause
for filing the lawsuit. This affidavit must be filed no more than 90 days after the malpractice lawsuit itself has been filed.
Damages, which are collected from the provider in the event of a successful suit, compensate the plaintiff for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. There are no caps on compensatory damages (i.e., reimbursement for medical expenses) or non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering) as the rule capping the latter has been ruled unconstitutional.
Patients in Illinois are not allowed to seek punitive damages, damages intended as punishment of the healthcare provider for malicious wrongdoing.
For the layperson, beginning a medical malpractice lawsuit can be a confusing and frustrating experience. Being armed with critical information about the type of damages you can seek, when you need to file your lawsuit, and what special filing requirements the process entails can help you as you begin your malpractice lawsuit.
If you’ve been injured as a result of negligent action or inaction on the part of a healthcare provider, contact the Epstein Law Firm to discuss your options.