Belleville Medical Malpractice Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence or recklessness of a medical professional, you may be able to make a claim for compensation for your losses. The Illinois personal injury attorneys at The Cates Law Firm, LLC can help you decide if a medical malpractice claim is in your best interests and explain what to expect from your case.
Modern medicine heals the sick, provides new technologies for care, and offers comfort in times of crisis. Medical professionals must abide by a standard of care and they take an oath to do no harm. Breaking that oath is cause for a lawsuit from the victim or a grieving family. Speaking to a Belleville medical malpractice lawyer helps the family process its grief, seek compensation, and move forward with life. Patients must recognize the signs of neglectful care, retain a lawyer, and seek compensation where appropriate.
Malpractice is rarely a mistake. Medical professionals who do not provide an adequate level of care for all patients are liable for damages, no matter the situation, their feelings, or mitigating circumstances. Seeking compensation via a medical malpractice lawsuit serves as a call to other providers who must perform better, put patients first, and learn from the mistakes of their peers.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Malpractice, in legal terms, is professional negligence. A professional knows how to do their job, refuses to do their job properly, or makes grave errors in the commission of their duties. Medical workers are held to a high standard at all times, regardless of the circumstances. For example, if a doctor in an emergency room is under stress, dealing with multiple patients, they must adhere to strict guidelines for care irrespective of how the situation makes them feel.
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider or hospital fails to uphold a reasonable standard of care, resulting in injury or death. Because the medical profession has a standard of care, it is simple to find the gaps in said care. Medical malpractice can include acts or omissions that result in harm or death. It may also occur due to negligent hiring, training, or supervision of the medical staff. Because the scope of medical malpractice is broad, it helps to understand the statistics and how it can occur.
If the patient or their family believes malpractice occurred, they should reach out to a lawyer for assistance. Proving malpractice is simple with fresh evidence. Waiting to take action causes further injuries, pain, suffering, or death. Apprehensive victims recover faster if they seek legal advice before the damage is irreparable.
How Often Does Medical Malpractice Occur?
PBS and the US-British Medical Journal both reported that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in America. Unfortunately, medical errors do not appear on death certificates. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not have enough data to track medical errors, and families are left without answers. Approximately 10 percent of all deaths in the U.S. occur each year due to medical error, and those deaths relate to inaction, improper medical care, misunderstandings, and diagnostic errors. Because medical errors rank behind heart disease and cancer in total fatalities, patients and families must be diligent when receiving medical care.
A troubling study from the Mayo Clinic found 8.9 percent of participants said they committed a major medical error in the three months prior; 1.5 percent of participants believed that error caused the patient’s death. These losses are never recorded as medical professionals do not admit to their mistakes. Patients and families must report medical errors as they occur, consult with lawyers, and change providers as needed. Seeking a second opinion or changing providers helps patients escape malpractice. Another medical worker may note instances of malpractice, report acts of negligence, and ask the patient to seek legal counsel.
Reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer any time doctors or nurses characterize medical issues as freak accidents, misunderstood diagnoses, or unforeseen issues. Modern medicine stops many problems before they start, and it is reasonable to believe physicians have more than enough information at their fingertips.
Who is Responsible for Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice cases often involve a medical professional who provides substandard care to a patient. Systemic malpractice involves the failure of an office or facility to uphold the duty of care. Medical facilities are liable if they are shown to provide substandard equipment, facilities, or funding for patient care. Additionally, neglected patients can sue medical facilities guilty of improperly discharging patients, refusing care, or denying basic human rights.
Nursing homes guilty of these same actions are liable for damages, including staff members active in the abuse or neglect. Nursing home abuse and malpractice often occurs behind closed doors. Visit elderly friends or loved ones often, keep tabs on their medical care, and report any suspicious activity as soon as possible. This list highlights medical workers capable of malpractice:
- Physician assistants
- Nurse practitioners
- Medical assistants
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Doctor offices
- Medical clinics
- Emergency medical personnel
Doctors and nurses in any medical setting can commit malpractice. While this sounds extreme, a nurse on an insurance company hotline is guilty of malpractice when dismissing or ignoring complaints from the patient. Medical professionals come with many names and initials. Doctors, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, and therapists provide care directly to patients, and any one of them can commit malpractice.
Orderlies, phlebotomists, and pharmacists offer more indirect or lateral care. The pharmacist fills a prescription and answers questions. Giving the wrong advice constitutes malpractice. Phlebotomists must draw blood safely and failing to do so constitutes malpractice. Orderlies are not medical professionals, but they come in contact with patients, recognize problems, and hear complaints. When orderlies do not relay information to medical professionals, they are also liable.
Even emergency medical personnel must abide by standards of care. If emergency technicians act outside the bounds of reasonable care, the patient or victim is due compensation. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals guilty of these acts are liable for damages caused.
What are Common Forms of Medical Malpractice?
Common forms of medical malpractice include the following:
Misdiagnosis: A misdiagnosis occurs when medical workers search for answers. If a doctor or nurse is inactive when diagnosing patients, they are negligent in their care. Patients provide massive amounts of information, including medical records, doctor’s statements, and referrals. Medical staff who do not use this information to diagnose are guilty of medical malpractice.
Lack of informed consent: Patients must give informed consent when accepting medical care. In short, the medical worker tells the patient their course of treatment, explains it fully, and receives consent from the patient, legal guardian, or representative. Without informed consent, patients are subject to treatments they do not understand, that violate their religious beliefs, or cause unexpected pain.
Refusal to diagnose: This is just as bad as a misdiagnosis. Doctors given all the tools to treat a patient must use those tools to find answers. A negligent refusal to diagnose tells the patient they are fine. Patients can sue for injuries related to a refusal to diagnose, and families can sue after an undiagnosed patient’s death.
Delayed diagnosis: A delayed diagnosis is just as terrifying as no diagnosis. Doctors and nurses may see the signs of a heart attack, stroke, or other condition, play off those symptoms, and send the patient away. Patients who believe their doctor or nurse is delaying the process should visit another practitioner and contact a medical malpractice lawyer.
Refusal of care: Patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and medical facilities often request comfort from their caretakers. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, and staff must provide care upon request. Refusal to provide comfort leaves the patient in agony, suffering both mentally and physically.
Improper treatment: These plans do not take into account the patient’s condition or needs. For example, a patient suffering from cancer must take medications and undergo treatment. That patient, however, takes a unique medication. Continuing to use incorrect or dangerous medications constitutes medical malpractice.
Surgical errors: Surgeons and their associates might use medical instruments and leave them inside patients. The surgical team must monitor vital signs, bleeding, and side effects caused by the surgery. A surgeon, for example, who operates on the brain and causes permanent damage to the patient’s nerves is guilty of medical malpractice. A unique area of medical malpractice is unnecessary surgery. The most common unnecessary surgeries include:
- Pacemaker installations
- Spinal fusions
- Joint replacements
- Cosmetic dermatological procedures
Anesthesia errors: These errors can be gruesome because patients expect to be asleep during a medical procedure. Patients who lie awake, unable to cry for help during medical procedures are victims of medical malpractice. The emotional distress caused by such an event may cause patients to forgo further treatment. An anesthesiologist is responsible for monitoring the patient, administering anesthesia, and bringing the patient out of their sleep-like state carefully. Doctors who perform these tasks improperly are guilty of medical malpractice.
Medication errors: Taking the wrong medication can make patients very sick or result in death. Patients may receive too much or too little. Medications may be ineffective given the patient’s condition and prescribing the most expensive medications at the request of a vendor constitutes malpractice. When patients cannot afford their medication, they skip treatment in many cases. The doctor, then, is guilty of an act of commission, resulting in an improper treatment plan. Medications dispensed improperly cause the same effects, and the offending practitioner is subject to an impending lawsuit.
Birth injuries: Families overlook birth injuries as the child requires physical therapy and counseling to live a normal life. A medical team could lie to the family to cover up the brute force used during the birth or mistakes made by the staff. Common birth injuries include the following:
- Brachial palsy, also known as Erb’s palsy, caused by shoulder dystocia, results in swelling and an inability to rotate the joint.
- Bruising, forceps marks, and scarring caused by extreme force or improper management of birthing tools
- Swelling of the scalp, also known as caput succedaneum, caused by vacuum extraction or brute force
- Bleeding between the brain and skull accompanied by jaundice
- Facial paralysis caused by pressure exerted on the baby’s face during delivery and detected when the baby cries
- Fractures, including the clavicle, shoulder, arms, or legs
- Subconjunctival hemorrhages
- Brain damage caused by lack of oxygen due to improper monitoring or delivery techniques
Before birth, gynecologists use ultrasounds to diagnose problems with the baby and predict complications during birth. Doctors, nurses, or midwives who do not have training, produce low quality images, or misinterpret these images are guilty of malpractice. Parents cannot make informed decisions if they do not have all the facts. Speaking with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer helps the family file a lawsuit and seek the appropriate damages.
How can I Prove Medical Malpractice?
Proving medical malpractice requires evidence. Lawyers seek evidence proving a medical professional fell outside the bounds of what a reasonable physician should do. Linking misconduct to the patient’s injuries leaves the victim or family eligible for compensation. Some cases do not result in malpractice, even though the patient suffered through a terrible ordeal. Schedule a consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer to determine the nature of the case. Evidence used in these cases includes:
- Medical records
- Doctors’ notes
- Testimony from medical experts
- Witness testimony
Medical records help lawyers investigate, and medical experts review those records for flaws in a medical worker’s care. Lawsuits must include an affidavit from a medical expert, who states that:
- There is reason to suspect medical malpractice
- A licensed physician in the State of Illinois reviewed the case
Lawyers continue the case by entering the discovery phase of the investigation, seeking out additional evidence, and obtaining court orders, if necessary. Doctors often claim that underlying conditions or extraneous events are to blame. Finding a lawyer and gathering evidence shuts down these defenses and provides the family with peace of mind.
What Types of Compensation are Available?
Compensation for medical malpractice covers all expenses incurred by the victim or their family. Malpractice causes more than a single injury. Most victims are left with additional medical expenses, recovery, therapy, and lost income. For example, a patient undergoing surgery for a contusion may suffer from anesthesia injuries, improper surgical techniques, and a lack of palliative care. The recovery from such an experience can take months or even years. Damages stemming from a medical malpractice lawsuit include:
Medical expenses: These expenses skyrocket when patients must recover from malpractice while already battling another condition. Expenses often include medications, physical therapy, further surgeries, transportation, medical equipment, or even travel for specialist appointments.
Disability and disfigurement: These factors come about after malpractice occurred. Disfigurement is painful and often reduces earning potential for the victim, impacts quality of life, results in a loss of companionship, and the emotional distress attached to the disfigurement is often overwhelming. Disabilities reduce the patient’s ability to work, and the patient may require government assistance.
Pain and suffering: These damages pay the family for additional suffering during the process. Lawyers calculate pain and suffering after collecting evidence and interviewing the family. Speak to a medical malpractice lawyer about a reasonable award for the family’s anguish.
Lost wages: Patients requiring additional medical care spend more time in the hospital and miss work. Victims who cannot return to work must recover payment for lost earning capacity. Wage loss claims make up the difference between the victim’s former career and their current occupation.
Punitive damages: Plaintiffs going to trial receive punitive damages at the discretion of the judge or jury, and these damages may not exceed three times the damages awarded in the lawsuit. Additionally, Illinois asks judges and juries to consider the severity of the defendant’s conduct, the vulnerability of the plaintiff, the duration of any misconduct, and concealing of said misconduct.
Review compensation with a lawyer before settling or going to trial. Every case is different, and lawyers cannot guarantee a certain level of compensation. Additionally, Illinois law dictates a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. The deadline extends, however, to the date of the injury’s discovery for medical malpractice claims.
What if My Loved One Died Due to Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice resulting in death warrants a wrongful death claim. The dependents of the victim must file a lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s estate. The lawsuit benefits the following dependents of the estate:
- Dependent parents
- Dependent grandparents
- Dependent siblings
Family and friends cannot file suit unless they are dependents of the victim. These lawsuits seek damages similar to a personal injury lawsuit, including:
- Medical debts
- Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering
- Loss of companionship or consortium
- Loss of economic support
- Loss of instruction, moral training, or superintendence of a child’s schooling
- Burial expenses
- Probate costs
Grieving families have two years in Illinois to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Adding burial expenses and probate costs helps the family properly administer the deceased’s estate. Parents overseeing a child’s education may seek additional compensation, and payment for a child’s moral instruction helps the family receive additional guidance. While families must take time to grieve, it helps to file a wrongful death suit as soon as possible. Waiting to file a claim gives doctors, hospitals, and other involved parties time to mount a defense.
When Should I Retain a Lawyer?
Victims should retain a lawyer if anyone suspects malpractice. Consult with a lawyer to review evidence and seek guidance. A lawyer can intercede in some cases, send communication to the facility, or advise the family. Lawyers collect evidence throughout the process and retaining a lawyer early on improves their ability to recover documents, interview witnesses, and ascertain the truth.
Lawyers represent the victim until the case is resolved. Appeals are necessary after an unfavorable judgment, and additional cases may arise given the victim’s disability, wrongful termination, or unpaid insurance claims. Expert legal advice helps close these cases quickly while giving the victim time for recovery.
Belleville Medical Malpractice Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Help Victims Recover from Medical Errors
If you or a family member was injured due to the negligence of a medical professional or facility, contact the Belleville medical malpractice lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC for assistance. Call us today at 618-277-3644 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we serve families throughout Belleville, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, St. Louis, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County.
Contact us today
Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with medical malpractice claims in Illinois and throughout the United States. We are familiar with the laws that will enable you to recover compensation for your losses. We will help you understand the law and what kind of claim may benefit you most.Contact us today at 618-277-3644 to let us begin working for you.
Types of Medical Malpractice Claims We Handle
The Cates Law Firm, LLC has extensive experience with many types of medical malpractice cases. We have the knowledge and resources to help you navigate the legal issues associated with these complicated claims. We have represented people who have been injured in a variety of situations, including the following:
- Anesthesia Injuries
- Birth Injuries
- Cancer Misdiagnosis
- Doctor or Physician Error
- Erb’s Palsy
- Failure to Diagnose
- Failure to Obtain Informed Consent
- Hospital Errors
- Pharmaceutical Malpractice
- Surgical Errors
Contact an Illinois Medical Malpractice Attorney Right Away
In Illinois, like most other states, you have a limited amount of time to file a claim for medical malpractice. You must start a lawsuit within two years of when you became aware of, or should have become aware of, the injury caused by the medical malpractice. There are a few exceptions to this time limit which may or may not apply to your claims.
It can take time to determine if filing a lawsuit is in your best interests. We will obtain a review of your claim by a physician to determine whether there was a breach of the standard of care necessary before a lawsuit can be filed in Illinois. You should contact our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC immediately upon becoming aware of a possible issue with medical treatment you received. We will help you determine the best course of action.
How Our Illinois Medical Malpractice Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Can Help
Medical malpractice claims can be complicated to prove. Doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers and companies have deep pockets and teams of lawyers. An effective claim will require an in-depth investigation and medical expert opinions. When you discover that you’ve been injured due to medical negligence, you should hire a personal injury lawyer to help you navigate the complex legal issues associated with medical malpractice claims.
The Cates Law Firm, LLC has experience representing people who have been injured due to many different types of medical malpractice. We understand the stress and confusion that you may be experiencing. Contact us today at 618-277-3644 to find out how we can help you.
Providing experienced representation throughout Illinois, our office is conveniently located in Swansea. Serving the surrounding communities, including but not limited to Belleville, Carbondale, Chester, East St. Louis, St. Louis, Edwardsville, Granite City, Waterloo and Madison County, Monroe County and Randolph County.