When you seek treatment for an illness or injury, you expect your healthcare provider to provide competent care. Sadly, not every medical professional is skilled enough to provide adequate care in every circumstance. And even highly skilled physicians and surgeons can have a bad day and make a mistake.
If your health has been affected by a medical error, a Madison County medical malpractice lawyer could help. Medical malpractice lawsuits are a way to hold negligent medical professionals responsible for their harmful actions and obtain financial compensation for the losses you suffered because of their mistakes.
Malpractice is Deviation from Standard of Care
Not every poor medical judgment or suboptimal result is due to medical malpractice. The law recognizes that medicine is not a “hard” science and that different people might react differently to the same treatment. However, there is a standard of care in the medical profession and the law requires medical professionals to meet that standard of care. Failure to do so is medical malpractice.
The standard of care is the type and quality care that a similarly credentialed medical provider would offer to a patient whose condition and symptoms were similar to the plaintiff’s. Medical providers must treat their patients to the best of their ability and training and have a responsibility to refer patients to other, more qualified practitioners if they are not equipped to manage a particular condition.
Requirements to Bring a Malpractice Lawsuit
An attorney who files a medical malpractice lawsuit must attach an Affidavit of Merit to the complaint, which is the document that begins a lawsuit. The Affidavit of Merit is a sworn statement by the plaintiff that they have consulted a qualified medical professional with specific competence in the plaintiff’s medical issues. The provider the plaintiff consults must submit a written report stating that in their opinion, the treatment the plaintiff received might not have met the standard of care.
If the case comes to trial, the plaintiff must prove:
- What the standard of care is in their particular circumstances
- That the defendant’s treatment deviated from the standard of care
- The deviation caused the plaintiff’s harm
Proving these elements requires the use of expert witnesses who can describe the applicable standard of care in cases like the plaintiff’s. The expert also must explain how the medical provider deviated from the standard and show that the injuries occurred because of that deviation.
The Statute of Limitations
A patient who believes they have been the victim of medical malpractice has only two years from the date of the medical error to bring a lawsuit. According to 735 Illinois Compiled Statutes §5/13-212(a), this deadline could be extended if the patient could not have discovered the malpractice within two years. However, regardless of the time of discovery, the patient may not bring a lawsuit if more than four years have passed since the medical error.
The same law allows minors extended time to bring a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice. A patient who was under age 18 at the time of the act of malpractice could have as long as eight years to bring a lawsuit. However, courts will not hear a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice on a minor if the plaintiff has passed their 22nd birthday before filing suit.
These laws can be harsh on patients who have suffered medical injuries. It often takes some time for a medical error to become apparent. A patient could undergo treatment for months or even years before it is clear that it injured them. Patients are wise to consult a legal professional as soon as they suspect a medical error to preserve their rights to bring a lawsuit if necessary.
Depend on a Knowledgeable Madison County Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice suits are more complicated than other personal injury actions. They require experienced counsel who has a network of medical experts and others who can help evaluate and validate a claim.
A Madison County medical malpractice lawyer has the resources to mount a strong case on your behalf. Schedule a consultation as soon as you suspect that a medical error might have injured you.