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Medical Malpractice Attorney Frequently Asked Questions

What is medical malpractice in Illinois?
Medical malpractice is when a patient is injured by the actions or inactions of a health care provider that fall below the accepted standard of care in that situation. In other words, a medical malpractice case requires that you prove that the doctor (or other provider) did not perform their job as they should and that you suffered harm as a result.

How long does a patient have to file a lawsuit against the physician?
Generally, Illinois law gives a patient two years from the date that he knew or should have reasonably known of the injury to bring suit against the physician. There are exceptions to this rule and any potential plaintiff should speak with an Illinois medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible or their case could be barred.

What must be shown to prevail in an Illinois medical malpractice case?
According to Illinois law, a patient must show: that the physician owed him a duty of care, that the physician breached that duty (acted below the standard of care), that the patient suffered an injury as a result of the breach in duty.

How does a patient initiate a medical malpractice claim?
First, hire a good attorney. This is not a type of case that you should handle on your own. Your attorney likely will start by reviewing your medical records and other essential information. An expert will be consulted to determine whether you have a case worth pursuing. And if you and your attorney decide to file suit, that will come next, with notice given to the defendant or defendants.

Does a consent form imply that a patient has waived his rights?
Don’t assume that signing a consent form prevents you from bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Just because you consent to surgery, does not mean you consent to being permanently injured by a negligent surgeon. The consent form is meant to inform you of the potential side effects and possible outcomes, and generally show that you agreed to the procedure and were able to make an informed choice, which is a right you have by law.

How much is a medical malpractice case usually worth?
The value of a case depends on several factors, including the type of injury, the severity of the injury, whether the injury is permanent, how it will affect your future, your medical bills and other financial loss or harm, where you are filing the lawsuit and who the defendants are. It’s a difficult question to answer until a case is fully reviewed and possibly underway. Be cautious of an attorney who guarantees a certain outcome or specific dollar amount.

Can I afford a medical malpractice attorney?
Medical malpractice attorneys, and pretty much all Illinois injury attorneys, charge what’s called a contingency fee. Their fee is contingent upon the outcome of your case. If you win, they get a percentage of what your case is worth. If you lose, there is no fee. This means that anyone can afford a medical malpractice attorney, even one with a great reputation and many years of experience.

How do I know whom to sue for my medical injury? Who is the defendant?
Some defendants are clear; others are not. In any case, you can sue multiple defendants. Sometimes you might not know who actually is at fault until you enter the investigatory phase of your case. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to help you evaluate the most likely defendants in your situation.

Why can’t I find an attorney to take my medical malpractice case?
A "good" medical malpractice case (meaning one that has a likelihood of success) is very attractive to an injury attorney, for the very simple reason that it can bring in a good fee. If you are having trouble finding an attorney to take your case, it’s possible that there is something that makes your case difficult to win. The costs of handling a medical malpractice case are high, which is a risk that attorneys are careful about taking. Unfortunately, attorneys don’t always explain this, leaving you confused and discouraged.

If you have more questions or would like a referral to an Illinois medical malpractice attorney, please call us at (312) 346-5320 or (800) 517-1614, or fill out our contact us form and we will contact you.