A Brief History of Medical Malpractice in Illinois

Published on Dec 20, 2019 at 3:29 pm in Medical Malpractice.

Stethoscope and pen on chart

Every day, millions of patients are seen in hospitals and medical facilities across the country. Whether you’re heading in for a routine exam or a complex procedure, you expect to receive care that benefits your health. When a physician or other medical professional acts negligently and you’re injured, you have the right to file a medical malpractice claim. Doing so will put you on the path to receiving the compensation you need to get your life back in order.

For every 100,000 residents in Illinois, it’s estimated that 14.3 medical malpractice suits are filed. The majority are based on the concept of negligence and a breached standard of care. If you’re planning on filing a claim, having an understanding of the history of medical malpractice in Illinois and the United States, and how laws have changed over time, can help you build a strong case.

Origins of Medical Malpractice in the United States

The foundation of medical malpractice in the country contributes to how individual states handle claims today. But, with the United States only having been founded in 1776, medical malpractice predates that significantly. The earliest known writing regarding the matter is from 1794 BC. The Hammurabi’s Code consisted of 282 laws regarding medical mistakes and more. The modern idea of ‘do no harm’ evolved from the code.

While medical malpractice standards weren’t officially recognized in the United States until the 1970s, the first med mal case in the states happened in 1794. The plaintiff claimed their wife died as a result of a doctor’s failed promise to perform a successful operation. The plaintiff’s case was successful.

Entering into the 19th century, there was a significant increase in malpractice cases. The majority of claims focused on fractures and dislocations. As a result, the American Medical Association was founded in 1847, which established the standards for medical education and training, in addition to the code for ethical medical practice.

In the 1970s, courts across the country began publishing standards of medical malpractice awards. States began to pass statutes of limitations and damage caps laws in response. Today, surgery errors are the leading cause of claims.

The Evolution of Medical Malpractice Laws in Illinois

Illinois, along with the rest of the country, began looking into the issue of medical malpractice in the 1970s. As the decades have passed, laws have changed. Understanding the most current laws is important when filing your claim, as those are the ones that could impact your potential for full and fair compensation. At Prince Law Firm, we’re well aware of the applicable laws and will ensure we take steps to get you what you deserve.

The Concept of Negligence

As mentioned, the most successful claims against physicians and other medical professionals have been filed on the basis of negligence—a concept that first came about in the 18th century and continues to evolve today.

The four elements of negligence include duty, breach, causation, and damages. A plaintiff needs to prove the physician owed them a duty of care and breached that duty, and that they were injured and suffered monetary losses.

Complex Statutes of Limitations

Last updates in January 2015, Illinois has a number of statutes of limitations for medical malpractice claims. The one that applies to you case will depend on the situation. For example, most lawsuits must be filed within two years of you becoming aware that the provider acted negligently and injured you. In some cases, however, victims have four years.

In the event a patient is under the age of 18 when they’re injured, the plaintiff may have up to eight years to file, but the case cannot be brought past their 22nd birthday.

Understanding the deadline that applies to your case can be confusing, but our lawyers can explain how much time you have and why.

2010 Changes to Damage Caps

Prior to 2010, med mal cases were subjected to damage caps. Like many states, Illinois passed a law stating that a plaintiff could only receive noneconomic damages of up to $500,000 for cases against negligent doctors and up to $1 million for lawsuits against hospitals.

In 2010, the caps were overturned and deemed unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court. Now, there are no damage caps of any kind on medical malpractice cases in the state.

We understand how overwhelming filing a personal injury claim can be. If you’re ready to get your life back in order, our lawyers will be with you every step of the way. To learn more about the history of medical malpractice in Illinois or to get started on your claim, schedule a meeting with Prince Law Firm today.



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