Most people are admitted to hospitals to receive medical care that will better their condition. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Some patients ultimately leave the hospital in worse shape than they came due to a hospital's misconduct. When this occurs, victims are granted the constitutional right sue a hospital for the injuries that were inflicted on them.
If you have been injured as a result of hospital negligence, it's important that you understand (1) what filing a claim entails; (2) the elements that should be included in your claim; as well as (3) the circumstances that constitute a hospital's liability in a case.
Common Forms of Hospital Negligence
- Patient mismanagement
- The abuse of patients facilitated by employees
- Not maintaining regulated standards of cleanliness within facilities
- Neglecting or failing to monitor patients
- Prescribing the wrong dosage or the wrong amount of medication to patients
Filing a Claim in Illinois
Hospital Errors and Medical Malpractice
It is crucial for victims who are contemplating pursuing legal recourse against a hospital to identify whether their condition was caused by a hospital error (that does not warrant compensation in the eyes of the courts) or hospital negligence. This distinction will determine whether a victim will have a feasible case or a case that is bound to be dismissed. Hospital negligence constitutes a medical malpractice claim. The requisite for bringing a medical malpractice claim against a hospital is “burden of proof,” or elements that a potential plaintiff must prove for their case to be upheld in court. Legitimate medical malpractice claims essentially contain four elements.
1. The hospital had a duty of care to you.
When an individual is admitted into the care of a hospital's medical staff and administration, these employees have a duty to serve a patient in accordance with the standard of care. This standard is substantiated based on the actions of other hospitals and staff that have a similar level of experience and confront similar circumstances as the defendant(s) listed in your case.
2. The hospital deviated from that standard.
Proof that a hospital was negligent lies in whether it abided by the standard of care, or whether it breached that standard. A deviation from the standard is determined when a plaintiff can prove that a hospital and/or its employees acted negligently. Negligence is a deviation from the standard of care. A hospital's actions are deemed negligent when a plaintiff is able to comprehensively prove that it acted in a way that an ordinary facility or staff with the same level of experience and training would not have in similar circumstances.
3. This deviation was the proximate cause of your injury.
Out of all the elements of a medical malpractice claim, this one is the most difficult to prove. Most individuals that are admitted into a hospital are often sick or injured before an instance of medical malpractice transpires. However, a claimant must provide evidence that the injury he or she suffered is rooted in the malpractice, not their pre-existing condition. A medical expert is typically appointed by your legal representative to provide evidence and professional knowledge in support of this element.
4. The injury resulted in damages.
Lastly, the injury must have led to damages or compensable losses in order for the claim to be considered viable in court. There are two varieties of damages that qualify a patient for compensation in Illinois medical malpractice cases: (1) economic damages; and (2) noneconomic damages.
- Economic damages: These types of damages refer to monetary losses that a patient experienced as a result of his or her injury. A few examples of economic damages are medical experiences, loss of past and future earnings, loss of employment etc.
- Non-economic damages: These types of damages consist of intangible losses, including emotional anguish, disability, disfigurement, the loss of the “enjoyment of life,” pain and suffering, etc.
Illinois does not cap, or limit, the amount of economic and non-economic damages a person can be awarded in a medical malpractice case.
Statute of Limitations
When it comes to filing a claim that will viable in a court of law, timing is everything. Each state has implemented legislation that limits the amount of time victims are allotted to file a legal claim; this is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” The duration of the timeframe provided by the state varies based on the cause of action and the nature of the case. When a victim claims that a hospital should be found liable for an injury, this case would fall under the realm of medical malpractice. Unfortunately, medical malpractice claims typically have restrictive deadlines, and the statute of limitations in Illinois is no exception.
Medical malpractice civil suits in Illinois must generally be filed within two years of the date that an injury has been discovered, or should have been discovered by a claimant. Overall, a medical malpractice claim shall be brought no later than four years from the date that the malpractice occurred. In cases involving claimants under the age of 18, Illinois has implemented a significantly more lenient filing deadline. State statutes dictate that a claim filed on the part of a minor must be filed within eight years of the date that an instance of medical malpractice occurred.
Determining a Hospital's Liability
A hospital can only be held liable for the negligence of its employees, which are nurses, medical technicians, and hospital staff. If the circumstances entail that one of these employees hurt a patient while on the job, a victim is eligible to sue the hospital on behalf of that medical professional's negligence.
Contrary to popular belief, most doctors are not hospital employees. They are considered independent contractors. Therefore, if a doctor's negligent actions caused a patient to suffer an injury, he or she will be independently liable for those injuries. But it's important for a claimant to be sure of a doctor's employment status. Usually, doctors that are employees of a hospital are subject to the fees set by a hospital and are provided working hours and vacation time by a hospital.
Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Medical malpractice claims are complex. If you have been injured due to the actions exhibited by a hospital, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our firm today for a consultation.