Although the majority of medical malpractice cases are resolved through settlements, court trials can be beneficial for injury victims who win their cases.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Justice, only about 8% of medical malpractice cases are resolved through court trials, while 92% are resolved through settlements. The main reasons for settlements include lengthy, tedious court trials and expensive court and attorneys fees. Although most medical malpractice cases are resolved through settlements, successful court trials can have a big payoff for injury victims when medical negligence is proven in court.
In Illinois, there are currently no limits on medical malpractice damages. Prior to 2010, non-economic damages for medical negligence were limited to a maximum of $500,000 against healthcare workers, and damages against hospitals were limited to $1 million. That Illinois law has since been ruled unconstitutional, so Illinois no longer places caps on non-economic damages caused by medically negligent actions of doctors, medical staff, and hospitals. Changes make it possible for lawyers to recover large monetary awards for injury victims.
Although medical professionals take an oath to protect their patients from harm, medical malpractice occurs at alarming rates. Common medical errors include:
- Misdiagnosis of health conditions
- Surgical errors
- Misread lab results
- Wrong medications or doses
- Infections from unsanitary conditions
- Faulty or outdated medical equipment
When patients suffer injuries due to medical errors or medical negligence, they have a right to file a civil lawsuit through a medical malpractice lawyer to recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Medical malpractice court cases can be complicated because medical malpractice lawyers must show proof of the following: 1) a medical duty of care, 2) an existing doctor-patient relationship, 3) improper medical care caused patient injuries, and 4) patient injuries resulted in damages.
When cases go to trial, the case must follow a specific legal process that includes screening and selecting jurors, collecting witness statements, calling expert witnesses, presenting evidence, and opening and closing arguments. From beginning to end, a court case may last up to two years before a verdict is reached.
Although a court trial may be time-consuming and stressful for an injury victim, a successful outcome can be lucrative since Illinois has no caps on damages. Victims of medical malpractice or negligent actions can receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, lost future wages or earning capacity, rehabilitation and therapy expenses, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.