Understanding Medical Malpractice Claims in Illinois

Understanding Medical Malpractice Claims in Illinois

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional’s negligent actions or omissions cause harm to a patient. In Illinois, patients who have suffered injuries due to medical negligence may be entitled to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

However, the process can be intricate, with specific laws and requirements that must be followed. This blog post aims to provide an overview of medical malpractice claims in Illinois, covering essential aspects to help you understand your rights and options.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a crucial factor in filing medical malpractice claims in Illinois. In Illinois, patients generally have two years from the date of discovery of the injury or negligence to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, there is an absolute four-year limit from the date of the alleged malpractice, regardless of when the injury was discovered.

For minors, the statute of limitations is extended. They have eight years from the date of the alleged malpractice to file a claim, but no case can be brought after the minor turns 22 years old.

Affidavit of Merit Requirement

Illinois law requires plaintiffs to file an affidavit of merit along with the initial complaint. This affidavit must be signed by a healthcare professional who practices in the same area as the defendant. The affidavit should state that there is a reasonable and meritorious cause for filing the medical malpractice lawsuit.

Failure to include the affidavit of merit can result in the dismissal of the case. This requirement aims to ensure that medical malpractice claims have a valid basis before proceeding with litigation.

Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

In Illinois, there are no caps on the amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases. Plaintiffs may be entitled to recover economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and future earning potential, as well as non-economic damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

However, it’s important to note that punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant for egregious conduct, are generally not available in medical malpractice cases in Illinois.

Expert Testimony Requirement

Medical malpractice cases often involve complex medical issues that require expert testimony to establish the standard of care and whether the healthcare provider deviated from that standard. In Illinois, plaintiffs must present expert testimony from a qualified healthcare professional to support their claim of medical negligence.

The expert witness must be licensed in the same field as the defendant and have experience in the area of medicine relevant to the case.

Informed Consent

Healthcare providers in Illinois are required to obtain informed consent from patients before performing any medical procedure or treatment. Failure to obtain informed consent can be grounds for a medical malpractice claim if the patient suffers harm as a result.

Informed consent involves explaining the risks, benefits, and alternatives of the proposed treatment to the patient, allowing them to make an informed decision.

Vicarious Liability

In some cases, hospitals or healthcare facilities may be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees, such as doctors or nurses. This means that the facility can be held responsible for the actions of its staff, even if the facility itself did not directly cause the harm.

Plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases may choose to name both the individual healthcare provider and the facility as defendants in their lawsuit.

Comparative Negligence

Illinois follows the doctrine of modified comparative negligence in medical malpractice cases. This means that if the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for their injuries, their damages will be reduced proportionally to their degree of fault.

However, if the plaintiff’s fault exceeds 50%, they will be barred from recovering any damages.


Medical malpractice claims in Illinois are governed by specific laws and requirements that can be complex and challenging to navigate.

Understanding the statute of limitations, affidavit of merit requirement, damages, expert testimony, informed consent, vicarious liability, and comparative negligence principles is crucial for patients seeking to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

It is highly recommended to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights.


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