To prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed, the doctor acted negligently, and that negligence directly caused the plaintiff injury. Medical malpractice lawyers work closely with clients to gather evidence that supports the plaintiff’s claim. However, that doesn’t mean every case is “winnable,” and plaintiffs should know that even cases that appear to be obvious examples of medical malpractice can still require significant resources and effort to prove.
Requirements for Winning a Medical Malpractice Claim
Plaintiffs in Illinois must establish that a doctor-patient relationship existed. In other words, the plaintiff hired the physician to treat him or her. In most cases, this is straightforward and easily proven through medical records.
The physician must also act negligently. It is not enough for the plaintiff to be displeased with the service or quality of care. The physician must engage in a behavior that falls below the standard of care. For instance, by performing a wrong-site surgery, failing to order a diagnostic test, etc.
Further, the physician’s negligence must cause harm to the plaintiff. For example, failure to order an appropriate diagnostic test that results in a delayed diagnosis of cancer that ultimately leads to either prolonged and extensive treatment, or a terminal diagnosis for a cancer that would have been treatable if detected earlier.
Finally, the injury must cause damages. This is a broad category that includes physical pain and mental anguish, as well as additional medical bills, loss of income, and loss of earning capacity. Plaintiffs can establish the damages they’ve suffered through pain journals and a full accounting of their medical bills and wage statements.
Plaintiffs in Illinois must file their medical malpractice claim within two years from the date they know, or should have known the injury occurred. This date must be no later than four years from the date the incident occurred. It is important to do this as soon as possible because it can take up to six months for a medical malpractice lawyer to fully investigate the claim.
Plaintiffs in Illinois have the burden of proof and it is vital to maintain thorough records of all contacts, treatments, and expenses. Winning a medical malpractice case in Illinois often comes down to how thorough the evidence is that supports the claim. The more solid the evidence, the more likely the plaintiff is to prevail and recover compensation for their injuries.