In some cases, a medical injury may be immediately obvious—something obviously went wrong with a routine procedure, you end up in the hospital for far longer than normal, etc. In other cases, it may be less obvious, which means it will usually take longer for you to notice an injury.
If you suspect that medical malpractice has occurred, it’s important to act as quickly as possible. The state of Illinois has various laws governing when a lawsuit needs to be filed. If you wait too long, it could compromise your case.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice
In Illinois, there is a statute of limitations in place on medical malpractice lawsuits. This statute limits lawsuits to two years after an injury occurs. This means that after two years, you may not have a case.
There is some leeway in that limitation, however. In many instances, you may not notice an injury right away, in which case the clock starts ticking when you notice (or would be reasonably expected to notice) that medical malpractice occurred.
Even if it takes some time after the incident for you to notice an injury, there is still a set time limit of four years after the injury occurred. If more than four years have passed since your procedure, your case will very likely be thrown out.
Even with the hard four-year limitation, there are still some mitigating circumstances that could give you more time. If you were prevented in any way from exercising your rights to recover damages, you may be able to file a claim long after the statute of limitations has expired.
For example, if you have a disability that would prevent you from being able to pursue legal action, that could be taken into consideration.
Another example is if you were the victim of some sort of fraud. If the doctor made false claims that kept you from connecting your injury with malpractice on his/her part, you may be able to file a lawsuit long after the injury occurred.
As such, the simple fact that a lawsuit is filed four years after an injury occurred does not necessarily preclude it from being considered. There will be extra work and research involved in making sure you get a fair recovery from it, though.
In addition to filing a timely claim, there are other requirements to consider when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Among these is the “affidavit of merit” requirement. This law requires plaintiffs (i.e. anyone who files a lawsuit) to provide an affidavit declaring that their attorney has reviewed their case with a competent medical expert. This expert must declare that the case has merit and provide a written report.
Experienced medical malpractice attorneys are well aware of the requirements and challenges associated with malpractice lawsuits, and they’ll typically have a list of medical professionals they can call upon to provide needed expertise. Hart David Carson LLP provides medical malpractice services to Illinois residents, so to have us review your case, contact us today.