What is My Illinois Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Worth?
As part of our service we answer questions and provide free information. One of the questions we are most often asked is, "How much is my case worth?" This page provides a general overview into how that is factored.
The value of a medical malpractice case is difficult to predict because so many factors go into it, many of which are subjective. Essentially, you can ask for two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Both, however, can be complicated to determine.
Economic damages are usually things like loss of wages, medical bills, loss of future earnings, or medical treatment costs. Attorneys hire experts to value these things, and there is often little disagreement over many of the categories. Lost wages, for example, can be easily calculated because you simply show how much money you currently earn and how much time you had to miss work. Similarly, medical bills are specific; you can point to an exact figure. Future earnings, however, may be speculative, because nobody can know exactly how many years you would have worked or how much money you would have earned years down the road. Reasonable people could also disagree about which medical treatments are necessary, and different treatments cost different amounts of money. It is hard to predict some of these factors in advance.
Non-economic damages are things like loss of consortium or pain and suffering. These are harder to put an exact dollar amount on than economic damages. Loss of consortium is traditionally used to mean that you can no longer have sex with your spouse, although it also technically includes care and affection for your spouse, as well as his or her contributions to the household. It can apply both men and women. Obviously, it is extremely difficult to put a price tag on your relationship with your spouse. In the same vein, pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice is very hard to concretely define: reasonable people could disagree on the value of pain in dollars.
Your geographic location also plays a role in how much your case is worth. In Illinois, for example, a case would likely be worth more in Cook County than in any other part of the state. For instance, in a smaller county like Winnebago or Urbana, juries tend to be a bit more conservative or inclined to find in favor of a doctor or hospital. Even when they do find for a plaintiff they often don't award as much as is asked for. So a Rockford medical malpractice lawsuit is likely worth less than an exactly similar case filed in Cook County. In the same vein, a Will County medical malpractice lawsuit will usually be worth more than one filed in a southern Illinois town.
Finally, who you hire as your attorney can greatly influence what a case is worth. If an insurance company knows that your lawyer has achieved great results, which can often be reason enough for them to settle for a higher amount than they would otherwise. The best attorneys also know the best experts to testify in these cases and present the best cases to a jury. Again, you can have the same facts as another case, but that case is simply worth more in the hands of some lawyers than it is in others.
The bottom line is that the value of a case fluctuates from location to location and from injury to injury. Furthermore, even for the exact same injury in the same town, two different juries could calculate two extremely different awards in damages. Many factors are used in giving a rough estimate, but the eventual dollar amount that a judge or jury places on your case is not possible to predict with certainty.
If this sounds confusing, don’t worry, it is. Even the best lawyer can’t tell you for sure how a case is going to come out. However, the most experienced and successful lawyers to give you the best chance for success. If you would like our help in finding one of these lawyers or have any questions about Illinois medical malpractice laws please do not hesitate to contact us.