Skip to Content

Filing A Medical Malpractice Claim in Illinois? Here’s What You Need to Know

You trust medical professionals to provide you with adequate care. Whether it’s an illness, injury, or undiagnosed condition, you have certain expectations concerning your quality of care. 

While most healthcare providers work tirelessly to treat their patients, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Negligence and carelessness can occur. Maybe your condition is misdiagnosed or your healthcare provider makes a mistake during surgery. Whatever the issue, you’re suddenly navigating Illinois medical malpractice laws.

Like most laws, the rules governing medical malpractice claims can be confusing. Before you get started filing a claim, here’s what you need to know about Illinois medical malpractice laws.

Not Everything Qualifies as Medical Malpractice

How do you know if your healthcare provider simply made a mistake or if their actions are considered negligent? 

After all, physicians and other types of healthcare providers are only human and you know the old saying, “To err is human”. While the law allows for honest mistakes, it doesn’t excuse a healthcare provider’s careless actions.

So, even if you’re the victim of one of the following medical mistakes, it doesn’t automatically mean you have grounds to file a malpractice claim:

  • Misdiagnosis or failing to diagnose
  • Unnecessary tests or treatment
  • Errors with medication
  • Delayed treatment
  • Inadequate follow-up after treatments
  • Surgical and anesthesia mistakes
  • Uncoordinated care
  • Infections acquired in the healthcare facility

Even though these are commonly cited in medical malpractice claims, undergoing unnecessary tests or being misdiagnosed doesn’t always meet the requirements necessary for proving medical malpractice.

Proving Medical Malpractice in Illinois

Before you can file a medical malpractice claim in Illinois, you must prove the following elements. If you can’t prove these elements, there’s a good chance you can’t file a malpractice claim.

Prove a Relationship Exists Between the Healthcare Provider and the Patient

You must show there is a relationship between you and your healthcare provider. In other words, you can’t name a physician at random in your medical malpractice claim. This also applies to most phone calls you may make to a healthcare hotline. 

For example, if you call a hotline hoping to receive a diagnosis for a runny nose, you can’t file a lawsuit if your sniffle is diagnosed as a cold but is actually a symptom of a more serious illness.

So, what constitutes a relationship between you and a healthcare provider? Pretty much any time you’re under the care of a physician or other type of healthcare provider, a relationship is established. This can even include a physician you only see once in the emergency room. For your brief stay, you have a relationship with the E.R. doctor.

You Received Negligent Care

Not everyone is always thrilled at the treatment they receive in a healthcare facility. However, simply being unhappy doesn’t mean you can rush out and file a medical malpractice claim. Not all physicians have a great bedside manner. Some can be a little rude but this doesn’t translate into negligence.

Proving negligence can be tricky. You will need to show that the physician owes you a duty of care and they breached this duty. You also need to prove that by neglecting their duty, you suffered damages.

An example can be if a physician misdiagnoses your condition; the misdiagnosis is one that their fellow physicians wouldn’t have missed, like mistaking a broken bone for a sprain. Since your broken bone isn’t being treated properly, it results in additional damage. These damages are the direct result of the misdiagnosis.

Damages You May Be Able to Claim in a Medical Malpractice Case

Most medical malpractice claims include expenses relating to their treatment. This can include any medical care you receive to correct your health issue or condition. 

If you require long-term or a lifetime of care, this expense can also be included in your claim. You can also add any lost income you may experience due to your injury or illness. These are examples of economic damages and your medical malpractice claim can also list non-economic damages. 

So, what are non-economic damages? These are intangible items like pain, suffering, and mental anguish. Since there isn’t a price tag on non-economic damages, your attorney can use either the per diem or multiplier method to calculate the total.

Something to remember when you’re getting ready to file a medical malpractice claim. Illinois doesn’t cap economic damages unless the claim is against a healthcare facility like a hospital. Your medical malpractice claim is capped at $1 million. Non-economic damages are also capped at $500,000.

Don’t Ignore the Statute of Limitations

You don’t have a lifetime to file a medical malpractice claim in Illinois. There is a statute of limitations and it’s something you don’t want to ignore. If you miss the deadline for filing a medical malpractice claim, there’s a good chance you can’t recover compensation for your damages. 

There are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if a minor is filing the claim the statute may be paused until their 18th birthday or 8 years whichever comes first. However, regardless of the patient’s age when the mistake occurred or when it was discovered, minors must file a medical malpractice claim by their 22nd birthday even if it hasn’t been eight years from the incident date.

For most patients, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims is two years from the date of the incident. You also have two years to file a claim from the date you discover a medical mistake. How can there be two statutes of limitations? 

An example is if you undergo surgery and everything seems fine until a year or so later. You go in for diagnostic testing only to learn a foreign object was left inside you after the surgery. This is known as your discovery date and it can affect the statute of limitations. 

You have two years from the date you discovered the mistake to file a medical malpractice claim. So, even if your surgery was three years ago, you can still file a claim as long as it’s not more than two years past your discovery date.

Navigating a Medical Malpractice Claim Is Easier with Legal Guidance

Just trying to figure out the statute of limitations on a medical malpractice claim can be challenging. To help you avoid missing a filing deadline and to effectively prove negligence, it’s wise to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. 

They can ensure you meet all deadlines and accurately calculate your damages. By handling these details, your attorney allows you to focus on your recovery, providing you with the support and expertise needed to navigate the legal complexities of your case.