Understanding the legal hurdles you need to scale to present a medical malpractice case in a court of law is a daunting, demanding, and technical task. It is not, however, the full task.
The purpose of bringing the suit is to recover compensation for the expenses, time, and pain you have endured following a medical malpractice incident. In order to be fully compensated for these items you also need to understand exactly what damages you can request and how much you are permitted to ask for. Without this information, even the most complete understanding of those initial legal hurdles would not be very useful. Although each case will come with its own unique set of circumstances, a basic understanding of damages will help you to better understand your case and allows for more meaningful communication with your attorney.
Monetary Damages for Chicago Medical Malpractice
Monetary damages are awarded to a plaintiff who has proven that a healthcare provider acted outside of the standard of care in their treatment with the patient and caused the patient to suffer an injury. Monetary damages, sometimes referred to as special damages, are essentially everything that can be quantified. If a patient has missed time away from work as a result of the injury, the paychecks for this missed time will be included as a monetary damage. If the patient had to have additional treatment as a result of the injury, these costs can be included as well. Monetary damages can ultimately cover and costs incurred, both in the past and future, as a result of the injury. In general, “monetary” or “economic” damages refer to medical bills (past and future) and lost wages (past and future). There are no limits on the amount of money an Illinois plaintiff can request in the way of monetary damages.
Non-Economic Damages for Chicago Medical Malpractice
Non-economic damages cover the results of an injury that cannot be quantified. These damages may be awarded once a plaintiff proves that a healthcare provider was negligent. A common example of non-economic damages is a monetary award for pain and suffering. An easy way to recognize the difference between this class of damages and monetary damages is to think of a scar left from medical malpractice. If the scar requires cosmetic surgery, the cost of surgery is quantifiable and thus it is a monetary damage. Alternatively, the scar itself has value in this case as a damage known as “disfigurement,” despite the fact that no price tag can be assigned to the scar; this makes the scar a non-economic damage. Prior to 2010, Illinois law allowed a plaintiff to request up to $500,000 in non-economic damages, regardless of the facts of the case. In Best v Taylor Machine Works, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the damage cap as unconstitutional. Currently, there are no limits on the amount of non-economic damages a plaintiff can request.
In certain circumstances, there are other damages available to plaintiffs who have suffered as a result of medical malpractice. If a patient has died as a result of medical malpractice, the patient’s next of kin may request a wholly different category of damages, sometimes referred to as wrongful death damages. Knowing the kind and amount of damages you are entitled to is the difference between a meaningful and a futile claim.