During a routine procedure at a medical center, I was left unattended in the exam room and, upon getting up from the wheelchair, tripped and fell, breaking my shoulder/hip and requiring surgery and weeks of rehab. The hip surgery has left me with a permanent limp. My medical expenses were covered by insurance and the remainder written off by the medical center. Damages to me include the time and emotional costs of a prolonged recovery/rehab period and the permanent limp. *Questions*
(1) What factors should I consider when deciding whether to press charges?
(2) Is there a time limit after the accident within which I should press charges?
(3) Will any settlement for my non-expense damages (eg. limp) be immediately confiscated by the insurance company that paid the medical expenses?
You can recover money for pain and suffering, disability (now you have a limp, affecting your quality of life), disfigurement, and lost income.
(1) you don't press charges. you bring a civil suit. your main consideration should be whether you can find an attorney to take your case on contingency, which would mean you owe him/her no money up-front, and nothing if they do not recover.
(2) yes, it's generally two years in Illinois
(3) the insurer can only go after their expenses, not any of your damages for pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and lost income. this is called "subrogation."
The main issue will be proving the medical center's negligence. They may argue that you were 100% at fault for the accident, because you tried to get up. But if you did prove their negligence, this could be a legitimate case.
You may have a claim for negligence against the medical center for leaving you unattended, but the facts surrounding the injury will need to be discussed with an attorney. For example, the hospital may claim you were at fault for getting up from the wheel chair. Most claims must be filed within two years of the date of injury (one year if the facility is government owned). Medical facilities typically defend injury claims to the bitter end. As to your 3rd question, any amount you receive would be subject to a right of reimbursement by your health insurer. Good Luck.
You should definitely consult with a qualified Medical Malpractice attorney, like all of us here. The case can be filed within two years of the accident, and subrogation might possibly not have been pressed by your insurance company if time has lapsed without indication of suit.
Talk to a lawyer.
Jordan Margolis, President
The Margolis Firm PC
55 W. Monroe, Suite 3555
Chicago, Illinois 60603
When An Accident Changes Your Life, We Pursue Justice For You
1) There are many factors that you should consider. Too many to adequately address in this forum. You should consult with an attorney to discuss.
2) The time limit varies depending upon jurisdiction and defendant. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for cases like this is typically 2 years.
3) Your health insurance company is likely entitled to partial repayment for medical bills it paid on your behalf. This is called subrogation. If you prevail, it is unlikely that subrogation reimbursement will significantly affect you in-pocket recovery.
Please feel free to contact me directly if you would like more information.
"Press charges" sounds more like a phrase used in criminal law. This would probably be a civil matter. It appears that you have significant injuries as a result of this incident. You should have a free consultation with an attorney who has experience in handling medical negligence cases. There is definitely a time limit within which to have your case filed. Generally, any settlement will cover medical bill reimbursement and other economic damage as well as money for non-economic damages such as loss of normal life, pain and suffering, etc. Contact an attorney right away. These matters take time. Do not hesitate.
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