We trust doctors during our most vulnerable moments. If we’re sick or injured, we want to know that we have someone to rely on. But the medical field is full of complications. Sometimes this is shown in a tired nurse having trouble finding a vein at the end of her 14-hour shift. Sometimes a doctor has certain biases about patients and wants to blame issues on simple answers like weight instead of following proper diagnostics. Perhaps it’s a nurse practitioner who thinks women are overdramatic. Or an old-school medical professional who hasn’t kept up with the latest technology and diagnostic criteria.
While medical malpractice is rare in the big picture, the fact that it exists at all is problematic. The results can impact your life to various degrees, from missed work and a high bill to a lifelong disability. As loyal as you may feel to doctors and nurses, if their negligence or mistake leads to complications and costs, they need to be held accountable— and you need help with the bill.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical Malpractice happens when a medical professional, like a doctor, fails to treat a patient competently. While a standard federal law covers the basics, each state has specific laws. In Illinois, you should file your claim within two years to meet the statute of limitations. This can be expanded to four years if an illness or injury was not immediately obvious. Illinois also requires an affidavit of merit, which proves you sought legitimate medical attention agreeing with your malpractice assessment. In good news, Illinois no longer caps the amount you can receive in damages, so you can ensure you get the best settlement for your situation.
Common medical malpractice claims include improper diagnosis, unsuitable treatment, and failure to warn a patient of risks. Malpractice claims are not limited to this list, but the list is a basic set of guidelines.
Accidents can happen, and they don’t necessarily count for medical malpractice. A wrong diagnosis may not be due to malpractice but a doctor working through several possibilities. Medical malpractice must be something that another doctor in the same circumstances would not do. You will need to prove that it was negligence, and you will need to prove that symptoms after are different from before. This is where both the affidavit of merit and a lawyer come in handy.
Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you have reason to believe you or a family member are victims of medical malpractice, you need to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Chicago. It is imperative that the lawyer is local, as they will be accredited to practice in the state and understand local and state regulations on top of federal law. Many firms offer free consultations with no obligation. They can advise you on the likelihood of your claim passing in court. It’s also a good way to meet the staff and gauge the firm. Don’t be afraid to seek several consultations and hire the lawyer you like best. You won’t have to pay them if you don’t win your case, so don’t worry about the expense— it is easily calculated into your settlement request.
Why You Need a Lawyer
Let’s be honest: the law is complicated. Court processes, deadlines, statutes, paperwork…you can easily get lost and overwhelmed. And you can bet your defendant will have top-tier legal representation. It can be difficult to figure out what counts as damages for compensation and what you can reasonably claim. You also want to ensure that your case is taken seriously.
A personal injury lawyer will handle the tedium of paperwork and gathering evidence, though they may ask you to supply certain things like medical records and photos. They will also help you calculate damages and negotiate with opposing attorneys. They will also represent you during the court case and fight on your behalf if a settlement does not occur.
Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer in Chicago
Finding a lawyer isn’t the difficult part— it’s choosing one. Chicago has many accomplished medical malpractice attorneys who would be willing to help you. We mentioned the importance of using a local lawyer and meeting in person to gauge your comfort with the firm and staff. But that is not the only criterion you should have. You can’t go wrong checking their website for testimonials and a track record of successful settlements. You can also check for any awards and recognitions or third-party reviews.
If you find yourself overwhelmed, try a resource such as NOLO, HG, or Justia, who maintain lists of partnered attorneys in your area. You do not need to rush picking a lawyer so long as you know the statute of limitations, those 2-4 years in which you can file your claim.
A note of caution: watch what you say to anyone until you have retained a lawyer. Insurance adjusters and staff for the opposing attorneys may try to phrase questions in a way that gets your answers to sound like agreement with their defense. Needless to say, that’s not a good thing for your case and will cause a reduction in your compensation package.
Get the Compensation You Deserve
Medical Malpractice can result in long-term healthcare needs, piling costs, and lost income. It also means that other patients are at risk of the same mistake happening to them. If you or a loved one are victims of medical malpractice in Chicago, don’t let it go. The responsible party needs to be held accountable, and you must be prepared for the changes in your life. Compensation can help with the mounting medical bills.
It can be hard to follow through, especially if you have a long-running doctor-patient relationship. But if you ignore the issue, more can arise. A misdiagnosis now could be a wrong medication later. An error in your medical chart. A lifelong diagnosis because something wasn’t treated in time. In worst-case scenarios, medical malpractice can even lead to death. Your pain and suffering are serious and should be addressed. The responsible party needs to be held accountable— and to possibly lose their license. Don’t wait: contact a personal injury lawyer in Chicago and get the help you need.