CHICAGO, IL – Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a medical professional, or doctor, who fails to competently perform his/her medical duties. State rules about medical malpractice differ in terms of how long you have to bring forth your lawsuit to notifying your doctor of a lawsuit; however, there are some general requirements to file a malpractice claim.
Basic Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Claim
To prove that medical malpractice occurred, you must be able to prove the following:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed. You must show that you and your doctor established a doctor-patient relationship – this means, you hired the doctor and the doctor agreed to have you as a patient. If a doctor began to see you and treat you as a patient, it’s relatively easy to prove a physician-patient relationship existed.
- The doctor was negligent. The doctor must have been negligent when diagnosing you or in your treatment. To sue for malpractice, you have to prove that your doctor harmed you in a way that a competent doctor, under the same circumstances, would not have. It’s important to note that the doctor’s care is not required to be the best possible, but rather “reasonably skillful and careful.” Nearly every state requires the patient presents a medical expert to discuss the appropriate standard of care and show how the doctor deviated from the standard of care.
- The doctor’s negligence caused the injury. Because many malpractice cases involve patients that were already sick or injured, the question that often arises is whether what the doctor did, negligent or not, actually caused the patient harm. A patient must show that it was more likely than not that the doctor’s incompetence directly caused their injury. Normally, the patient must have a medical expert testify that the doctor’s negligence directly caused further harm.
- The injury led to specific damages. Even if it’s clear that your doctor performed below the standard of care, the patient cannot sue a doctor if they didn’t suffer any harm. Some examples of the types of harm patients can sue for are:
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Additional medical bills
- Lost work and lost earnings
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
There is a wide variety of situations that can lead to a medical malpractice claim; however, most malpractice claims fall into one of these categories:
- Improper treatment. If a doctor fails to follow the standard of care and treats the patient in a way that no other doctor would, the patient could have a medical malpractice claim. It could also be a malpractice claim if the doctor were to select the appropriate treatment, but administers it incompletely.
- Failure to diagnose. If a competent doctor would have discovered the patient’s illness or made a different diagnosis, which could have led to a better outcome, the patient may have a medical malpractice claim.
- Failure to warn a patient of known risks. Doctors are responsible for warning patients of known risks of a procedures or a course of treatment, known as the duty of informed consent. If a patient, once properly informed of all possible risks, would have elected not to go through with the procedure, the doctor may be held liable for hurting their patient if they were injured by the procedure.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a strict amount of time you have to get your case started in the state’s civil court system; however, this differs from state to state. Illinois has a statute of limitations that directly applies to medical malpractice cases. That law requires the lawsuits to be filed within two years of the date in which the plaintiff knew, or should’ve known, about the injury that was caused by the healthcare professional’s malpractice.
In the event that this is not discovered right away, the Illinois medical malpractice statute of limitations goes on to set a larger deadline in which a malpractice claim can be brought more than four years after the date the medical error occurred. You can learn more about this here.
If the plaintiff is under the age of 18, there is a specific filing deadline for a lawsuit filed on behalf of them. These cases must be filed within eight years of the date on which the malpractice occurred, but in no event can the case be brought beyond the person’s twenty-second birthday.
Medical malpractice law is highly complex that differs from state to state, so it’s important to get advice or representation by a lawyer.
The medical malpractice attorneys at the Dinizulu Law Group are highly experienced and have the resources to properly handle your medical malpractice claim. If you have been harmed or suffered an injury due to your healthcare providers negligence, please contact our office at (312) 384-1920 for a free consultation.