You become ill, or are injured, and seek medical treatment. Following the treatment, you either do not feel better or things gets worse. Do you have a medical malpractice case? The answer to that question is complicated. If you think you or someone you love may have been the victim of medical malpractice, the best thing to do is consult an attorney.

That said, here are some questions that may help you answer whether you have a medical malpractice claim:

  1. What type of case is it?
    1. There are three main types of medical malpractice claims: failure to diagnose, improper treatment and failure to warn a patient of known risks.
      1. Failure to diagnose occurs when an illness or injury is not diagnosed in a situation where a reasonably careful healthcare provider would have diagnosed (and treated) the condition.
      2. Improper treatment occurs when either the provider does not give the correct treatment or gives the correct treatment in an improper manner.
      3. Failure to warn, also referred to as lack of informed consent, occurs when a provider fails to tell the patient of the risks associated with a procedure or treatment.
  2. Was there a doctor-patient relationship?
    1. The issue here is whether or not the doctor owes the patient a duty of care. In most cases, this is a given, however there are circumstances when it may not be clear. If a person makes an appointment with a doctor, then sees the doctor in his or her office, clearly there is a doctor-patient relationship. However, if a person is in the hospital and has an x-ray taken, depending on the circumstances, the radiologist, whom the patient has never even met, may still be liable. (As a side note, the negligent actor need not be a physician. It could be a nurse, a tech, a physician’s assistant, etc. It could even be any combination thereof, i.e. a doctor and a nurse).
  3. Did the doctor breach the standard of care?
    1. Put another way, did the doctor act as a reasonably careful doctor would have acted in the same or similar circumstances. This goes to the heart of a malpractice case: was the doctor negligent? In Illinois, this is a question that can only be answered by a qualified expert that has gone through the same training as the negligent actor, i.e. a doctor can only testify against another doctor because they have the same education and training, but in most circumstances, a doctor cannot testify against a nurse, as the nurse has a different degree and different training.
  4. Has it been too long to file a claim?
    1. As soon as you suspect that you or a loved one may have been the victim of malpractice, you should contact an attorney ASAP! The law limits the time a person has to bring a medical malpractice case. In Illinois, the rule is that a plaintiff has 2 years from when he or she knew, or reasonably should have known, that there was an injury. That injury may have been wrongfully caused, but in no event may a claim be brought more than 4 years after the date which it occurred. Determining when the clock begins to run is dependent on the circumstances. In some cases, it may begin to run on the day the malpractice occurred. In others, it may begin to run at a later date. One thing is certain, DO NOT DELAY contacting an attorney.
  5. Was there an injury that was caused by the negligence?
    1. Even if the provider was negligent, if his or her negligence did not cause or contribute to causing an injury, a person does not have a claim. An easy way to think about this is in the situation of a car collision. You are in your car at an intersection and the light turns green. As you proceed through the intersection, someone in the cross traffic runs the red light and crashes into the side of your car. Clearly the person that ran the red light was negligent. If you are fortunate enough to not be injured, then you do not have a case. On the other hand, if your leg is broken from the collision, then you do have a case. The same is true for health care providers.

Remember, this is a very basic overview of a medical malpractice case. In reality, these types of cases are far more complicated. Our attorneys are all experienced in handling all types of medical malpractice cases and the complexities that they present.

If you believe that you or a loved one may have a medical malpractice case, do not delay, contact us today at 312-782-4600 or online.

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