Four common questions asked by victims of injury from negligent medical care.

Remedies are available to patients who suffer from injury or death due to negligent medical care. One option is to pursue relief through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Is A Medical Malpractice Suit?

A medical malpractice lawsuit is a civil claim that allows a person injured by negligent medical care to hold the person or persons who caused the injury accountable for their wrongdoing. In order to build a case, the victim must establish these four elements:

  • Duty. First, the victim must show that the doctor, physician or other medical professional owed a duty to the victim. This can be established in many ways, including showing that the victim was a patient of the doctor.
  • Breach. Next, the victim must show that the doctor failed to fulfill this duty. This often requires expert testimony from another physician or medical professional within the field.
  • Damage. The victim must show that there is an injury. This can be done with medical records showing the injury.
  • Causation. Finally, the victim needs to show that the physician's failure to meet the required standard of care caused the injury.

Generally, all of these must be established to move forward with a claim.

How Do I File A Medical Malpractice Suit?

In order to file a suit, Illinois state law requires that a complaint be filed with the court. For a medical malpractice suit, an affidavit generally must accompany this complaint. The affidavit states that the case was reviewed by a health professional and that the qualifying health professional believes there is reasonable cause for the suit. There can be an exception to this requirement, particularly if getting this done would put the lawsuit past the statute of limitations discussed below.

When Can I File A Suit?

All states in the country have a statute of limitations law governing when a lawsuit can be filed. Various events can trigger when the clock begins ticking on the time the victim has to file his or her claim. In Illinois, when it comes to most injuries that result from medical care, the following events can trigger the countdown:

  • Discovery. The statute of limitations in Illinois generally allows a victim to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice for two years after the injury is discovered.
  • Reasonable discovery period. The two year limitation may not begin when the injury is actually discovered. Instead, it may begin after the victim should have discovered the injury.
  • Cutoff date. Illinois also begins tolling the cutoff date four years after the procedure that resulted in the injury occurred.

There are some exceptions to this limitation. Children, for example, may have a longer period to assert a claim. Also, those who are unable to assert their rights due to incapacitation will also likely qualify for an exception.

Do I Need A Lawyer?

Although victims can file suit without legal counsel, these claims can be difficult to navigate. As such, it is often wise to seek the counsel of an experienced medical malpractice and hospital negligence attorney to better ensure your legal rights and remedies are protected.

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