Often it will be clear right away if you have suffered an injury as the result of medical care. Other times, the injury becomes apparent months later. There are deadlines on when a medical malpractice case can be filed in Illinois. You have two years from the time when you discovered (or should have discovered) your injury. There are exceptions; four years in some cases, just one year in others.
Consult an attorney
If you suspect you have a medical malpractice case, consult with an attorney as soon as possible. An initial consultation with help you decide whether to pursue a lawsuit. And doing this soon after discovering your injury will help ensure you don't miss the deadline. If you do, your case could be barred forever.
Find a medical expert
An Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit can't be filed without the report of an expert. A medical expert needs to review your case and give their opinion as to whether your provider breached their duty of care. In other words, you can't file a lawsuit based on undesirable results. An attorney will know where to find an expert for your case.
Discovery and motions
Discovery and motions are the most time-consuming steps in medical malpractice lawsuits. Discovery is the process of finding out all the facts, including interviewing the other party. The defendant will find their own expert, who will likely disagree with your expert. Motions can be made on a variety of issues. A common motion is one for summary judgment, where a party asks the judge to decide the case without a trial. The judge will do so if there doesn't appear to be a valid claim.
Negotiating a settlement
Any time before trial - or even during trial - the parties are allowed to negotiate and resolve the case on their own without the help of a judge or jury. The negotiations can be informal, between the attorneys for either side. Or they can be more formal, in front of a third party mediator or arbitrator.
If the claim is not dismissed early on, and if the parties do not settle, the case goes to trial. In most medical malpractice trials, there is a jury of 12 people. After each side presents their case, the jury makes a decision. If a party is unsatisfied with the verdict, they may appeal. A motion can be filed with the judge; or the case can be taken to the appellate courts.
Additional resources provided by the author
It can take years for a medical malpractice cases to reach resolution. When hiring an attorney to take your case, make experience and customer service a priority. Find someone you trust, but also someone who has a track record of success in medical malpractice cases. Ask how they plan to keep you involved and informed throughout the litigation. All of the attorneys we recommend meet these criteria. Contact us for a free evaluation and referral.