You have read it everywhere – doctors are being forced out of Illinois by medical malpractice attorneys in Chicago. But what about the people whose lives are devastated by medical errors, or whose loved ones are killed by a bad doctor or a mistake at a hospital that was 100% preventable? Why is the media obsessed with protecting the doctors at the expense of the injured person? Since before even Shakespeare’s time, regard for lawyers has never been high in the public eye… that is, until one is in dire need of legal representation.
You know the people I talk to who have had a medical malpractice case usually feel betrayed, angry and frustrated. It’s easy to understand why. You go to a hospital or a doctor to make you or your loved one better. Not worse. You certainly don’t go there to make you or your loved one or you worse. Any medical care can result in a bad outcome.
When a doctor makes an obvious mistake or doesn’t listen to the patient and his or her family, or is rushed and doesn’t seem to be paying attention – well, it is hard to be very forgiving under those circumstances.
And the law in Illinois says you don’t have to forgive.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical professional commits a medical error out of failure or neglect to follow their medical duties. These errors result in the injury of the patient, which can manifest in a number of different short or long-term results.
Medical malpractice errors can lead to physical injury, mental injury, or in the most serious cases, death. Regardless of the outcome, you need to work with an experienced medical malpractice law firm in Chicago to get the results you deserve.
Think of it as medical negligence – a situation in which a doctor fails to fulfill their duties to the standards demanded by their profession.
However, remember that just because a given medical procedure did not go according to plan, that does not necessarily constitute medical malpractice.
How prevalent is medical malpractice?
More common than you may think.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., ranking right behind heart disease and cancer.
Medical Malpractice Statistics
The study estimates that more than 250,000 Americans each year die as a result of a medical error. These death-inducing errors can happen for a variety of reasons – from complications during surgery, misdiagnosis, incorrect medication dosage and diagnostic errors.
The insurance industry is taking full advantage of this public misunderstanding of the vital function of lawyers in American society to propose ineffectual and self-enriching tort reform. The charge for tort reform is being led on the back of the issue of medical malpractice damage caps.
No other person or entity being sued in any other type of lawsuit from car accidents, fall-down accidents, products liability cases, contract disputes, or even violations of Constitutional Rights and discrimination suits receives this “report first” procedural protection afforded to doctors.
Damage caps are yet another procedural hurdle the insurance industry wishes to have placed in the way of wrongfully – and catastrophically – injured patients seeking a reckoning.
Currently, in jurisdictions without damage caps, a jury of twelve (as provided in Amendment VII to the U.S. Constitution) listens to all of the law and all of the facts of a particular case. This includes damages testimony from the injured person and of the plaintiff’s treating doctors.
It also includes testimonies from life-care planners who have calculated the precise amount of money that the crippled plaintiffs’ future care is likely to require. The economists also calculate, down to the penny, the amount of money the injured person has lost by no longer being able to work in their former capacity or if the injury is severe enough, at all. The jury will first hear all of the defendants’ exculpatory and damages-reducing evidence. Then, they retire with that knowledge and decide whether the doctor’s conduct was not merely mistaken and the harm was not merely an innocent “bad outcome”. They have to decide if the conduct rises to the level of medical malpractice.
If, and only if, a jury makes this determination, it must next consider damages. Or how to fix what can be fixed, help what can be helped and make up for what cannot be helped or fixed. Already having a pre-suit procedural safeguard to ensure that only cases with merit are filed against doctors, the insurance industry has now turned its attention to the damages aspect of medical malpractice lawsuits.
Instead of allowing the twelve people with the most information and knowledge of the case (the jury) to fix a precise amount which is necessary to compensate the wrongfully injured person, the insurance industry is lobbying hard for caps on damages.
In other words, instead of leaving a determination on damages up to the people who have heard exactly how and how much the injured person has been damaged, Big Insurance prefers that a silver-spoon legislature makes that decision. Instead of relief tailored to the particular case and a jury left to its constitutionally-mandated province, Republicans and their insurance-industry benefactors seek to impose a big-government, one-size-fits-all answer.
They don’t trust juries made up of people like you, your friends and your neighbors to decide based on the facts and evidence in each individual case. Damage caps do not stop frivolous lawsuits.
Caps only affect the cases in which a jury of twelve people heard all the facts of the case and decided the injury was so severe and life-altering and the misconduct so blatant that a patient injured by the errors of a health care provider should receive more than $250,000.
By definition, that is not a frivolous lawsuit, but a very serious one. Damage caps do not prevent frivolous lawsuits, but instead, ensure that the most catastrophically-injured patients will not be compensated as a jury instructs, thereby limiting their rights. The strongest, most publicized argument for damage caps in medical malpractice cases is the mythical unavailability of doctors. Particularly in rural areas, who have supposedly been driven out of business due to soaring malpractice insurance premiums, due to outrageous jury verdict.
As appealing as this argument may at first seem, it suffers from a fatal flaw. It is complete fabrication, utter hogwash.
Doctors are not fleeing states in droves, despite increasingly frantic and unsupported claims from the American Medical Association, the insurance industry and their allies.
Independent assessments by state officials and the media have found that the number of doctors in many states, including Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, has remained stable and in most, has actually increased. (FL, Palm Beach Post Editorial, 7/16/03; OH, Toledo Blade, 7/17/04; PA, Allentown Morning Call, 4/24/04; WA, Seattle Times, 2/23/04). The 2003 Weiss Report found that despite caps on economic damages in 19 states, “most insurers continued to increase premiums (for doctors) at a rapid pace, regardless of caps.”
The report found that insurers failed to pass along any savings to physicians in states with caps by refusing to lower their insurance premiums, and that caps only slowed the increase in the amount of damages insurers were required to pay out. (Weiss Report, 6/3/03.) Premiums are higher in states with caps than in those without. The average malpractice premium in states without caps was $35,016 in 2003. The average premium in states with caps was $40,381. (Medical Liability Monitor, 10/03)
“America spends more on dog and cat food each year than all medical malpractice payouts combined,” said FTCR president Jamie Court, author of Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom And What You Can Do About It. (FTRC, 7/20/04, www.consumerwatchdog.org/healthcare/pr/pr004485.php3) “Malpractice costs amounted to an estimated $24 billion in 2002, but that figure represents less than 2 percent of overall health care spending. Thus, even a reduction of 25 percent to 30 percent in malpractice costs would lower health care costs by only about 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small.” (“Limiting Tort Liability for Medical Malpractice,” CBO, 01/08/04) The median inflation-adjusted payout in all tort (personal injury) cases dropped 56.3% between 1992 and 2001, to $28,000. (“Civil Trial Cases and Verdicts in Large Counties, 2001,” Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 2004.) The filing of personal injury cases has declined 4% since 1993. (“Examining the Work of State Courts, 2003,” National Center for State Courts, 2004.) And, perhaps most revealing, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), Congress nonpartisan research arm, examined the insurance industries publicity campaign of lawsuit-induced falling doctor availability.
The GAO concluded that “many of the reported physician actions and hospital-based service reductions were not substantiated or did not widely affect access to health care.
Some reports have received extensive media coverage in each of the five states, we found that actual numbers of physician departures were sometimes inaccurate or involved relatively few physicians.”
At any rate, they “did not find access to these services widely affected.”
Rather than concluding that large malpractice verdict drove premiums up (of which the GAO found no evidence), it instead noted that “…malpractice insurers experienced sharply reduced gains on their investments from 1998 to 2001.” (Medical Malpractice: Implications of Rising Premiums on Access to Health Care GAO-03-836.)
What should I do?
If you think you are the victim of medical malpractice, we strongly suggest the following:
Document everything you can. Because this is a scary and stressful time, you will forget details that may be important. Document dates, times, names of doctors and nurses and dosages, among other things.
Be descriptive in your notes and try to document as things are happening, if possible. Even if you are not contemplating a lawsuit, documenting the details can help you during this stressful time.
Ask questions. Questioning health-care providers can be intimidating, but this is not a time to be hesitant. Asking question can be pivotal in getting the damages you deserve. Ask how your injuries occurred and how they will be remedied. As a patient, you have a right to know what happened.
Advice for You
There are three things I want to outline for you very quickly. And these are the same three things that I tell people who call me. First, understand that medical malpractice cases are expensive, complicated and often take a long time to result. In a medical malpractice case, the harm that the doctor does to you cannot just be a bad outcome. It has to be a mistake that a reasonably qualified doctor would not make.
In order to prove that in court, we have to have all your medical records and have them reviewed of the appropriate specialty before we even file a lawsuit. If the reviewing doctor agrees it was malpractice, then we can proceed to court.
If the reviewing doctor does not agree, then we cannot proceed or we need to find another doctor. A reviewing doctor costs thousands of dollars and sometimes, tens of thousand dollars if we want them to be expert doctors in these cases.
That means that a medical malpractice case can cost lots of money right at the beginning. That is why lawyers are very very careful about collecting detailed information in screening these cases to make sure that the case has merit.
Second, you usually need to have a serious permanent injury. This is sort of related to the first point we just talked about.
Because medical malpractice cases are so time consuming and expensive, we have to make sure that the injury or harm caused by the doctors’ mistake is large enough. This is so that when a jury hears a case, they will award enough money to make economic sense to handle the case. If the medical mistake kills someone, cripples them, or causes them to undergo lots or more medical treatment, then damages are probably big enough to proceed in a medical malpractice case. On the other hand, a temporary injury that gets better or a close call but you don’t get hurt, is not likely to be awarded enough money in front of a jury to offset all those case costs. It’s unfortunate that many doctors and hospitals get away with making these kinds of mistakes.
However, unless the injury is big enough, we can’t proceed with a case.
Third, you must speak with a lawyer. Medical malpractice cases are very complicated. Even your statute of limitations or deadline to file a lawsuit can be different in a medical malpractice case. It is a very bad idea to go at it alone or delay in speaking with a lawyer. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, the first thing you should do is obtain your medical records. The second thing is that you should contact a lawyer to review the case for you.
Even if the first lawyer you speak with does not agree to take the case, I always tell people in medical malpractice that you should get a second or third opinion if your first lawyer rejects the case.
Why Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Chicago?
The severity of medical malpractice should not be underestimated. If you or someone you love has been a victim of medical malpractice there are legal paths available to you.
Even with the help of a great Chicago medical malpractice law firm, these cases are difficult to win. However, your chances drop significantly if you choose to employ an average litigator.
Medical malpractice attorneys in Chicago are here to help your case receive the best possible outcome. They ensure that the offending professional receives the appropriate consequences and does not have the opportunity to hurt another patient. At a time when you are dealing with added pain and suffering due to someone else’s negligence, the last thing you want is the stress of trying to get the compensation to which you are entitled.
You need a medical malpractice lawyer in Chicago who can guide you through the process and fight for your rights so you don’t have to. You will be able to get the money you are owed for your injuries, including money for medical bills, time missed from work and pain and suffering.
Depending on the severity and longevity of your injuries, you could be entitled to benefits for the future as well. We will help you figure out what you should ask for and help you get what you deserve.
Medical malpractice suits have become increasingly difficult to win because medicine is big business and big business protects itself. The healthcare industry is doing this by constantly lobbying the government to set all sorts of roadblocks in the way of wronged patients. “Standard of care” is a term in medical malpractice suits that gets thrown around quite a bit. It’s usually the key in determining the verdict of a case. If you’re in Illinois and you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, you’ll need a Chicago medical malpractice law firm to help. Standard of care and other laws differ from state to state. A professional is familiar with the laws applicable to your case and will make case-specific arguments on your behalf. Another big factor in deciding medical malpractice suits is the level of “acceptable risk.”
For example, let’s say you’re undergoing chemotherapy. Chemo carries risks for a long list of side effects, including permanent lung damage. If you underwent chemotherapy and your lungs were permanently damaged, you’re unlikely to have a case.
Permanent lung damage would be considered an acceptable risk and your doctor wouldn’t be held liable. Understanding standard of care and levels of acceptable risk is best left to the professionals.
There are thousands of cases that a Chicago medical malpractice law firm has dealt with and studied. The expertise gained from this experience and knowledge is irreplaceable when a medical malpractice suit hangs in the balance.
The Law Office of Scott D. DeSalvo will help create the strongest medical malpractice lawsuit for your case. We are a team of experienced attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice and understand the complex nature of these types of lawsuits.
We understand how devastating a medical error can be to someone’s health and are dedicated to making sure you receive fair compensation and that the professional cannot hurt another person.
Get the Results You Deserve
If you or a loved one may have been victimized by medical malpractice, it’s critical to contact a medical malpractice law firm in Chicago immediately. A lawyer will review your case details thoroughly and decide whether or not it is actionable.
Medical malpractice cases are difficult, as they don’t just go after the offending doctor but also the institution they represent, which may have far more resources available to them for defense. However, these cases are not impossible – you just need help from a Chicago medical malpractice law firm.
They will have the experience necessary to understand which cases are worth pursuing and which ones will be too difficult to prove with far too little benefit. It can be difficult to see clearly when you are in the midst of this type of case.
Lawyers will help you see things from an outside perspective so you can make the right choices.
Work with Experience
You may feel you have a clear-cut case, but this isn’t often true. These cases can be extremely complex and difficult for the untrained individual to navigate. This is why it’s best to search for a medical malpractice law firm in Chicago to take on your case.
The best team of lawyers will help you determine the best course of action and make sure everything goes as planned. While they may not be able to guarantee specific results, they will work hard so you can get the compensation to which you are entitled.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
Even if you aren’t sure whether you have a case, we will meet with you to discuss the specifics of your case. We know which questions to ask, so you can be sure you have the best chance of a successful outcome for your case.
When you work with a medical malpractice lawyer in our firm, you can get the guidance you need to file the paperwork properly and to represent you in court if necessary.
We will let you know if it is worth pursuing your case and make sure you have the best possible chance of getting the compensation you deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a medical error, contact the Law Office of Scott D. DeSalvo right away.
You need medical malpractice attorneys in Chicago who can give the proper legal guidance for you to win your case. I offer a free consultation in person or by telephone, your choice. I can answer all of your questions with no obligation at 888-HURT-318. If you aren’t ready for that, I’d be happy to send you a copy of my injury DVD video, which answers the most common questions injured people have.
It can be delivered electronically to you at your e-mail address, or if you would like a hard copy/physical copy, I will mail that to you for free. Providing good information to injured people is the mission of my law office. If I can be of further assistance, please don’t hesitate to call.