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Are Damages Limited or Capped in Medical Malpractice Cases?

Posted on February 28, 2022 in

If you are the victim of medical malpractice, you may be eligible for financial compensation. By filing an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit, you can hold the at-fault healthcare provider liable for the physical, emotional, and financial losses that you suffered, also known as damages.

You may wonder whether Illinois law sets caps, or limits, on the amount of compensation that you can recover in a medical malpractice case. It is important to understand these potential limits before filing this type of claim.

Types of Damages Available in Medical Malpractice Claims

In Illinois, damages in medical malpractice lawsuits fall into one of two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages refer to the financial losses that you experienced due to the malpractice. Examples of economic losses include the following:

  • Past and future medical care
  • Lost wages and loss of future earnings
  • Any property damage that you experienced
  • Specialized treatments, like physical therapy
  • Disability accommodations, such as mobility equipment

On the other hand, non-economic damages involve the physical and emotional pain and suffering that you endured. Medical malpractice can result in devastating, life-altering injuries, so this portion of your award will be significant. Common types of pain and suffering damages include the following:

  • Chronic pain
  • Permanent disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Loss of quality of life

Does Illinois Cap Damages in Medical Malpractice Claims?

There are no damage caps for medical malpractice claims in Illinois. In an Illinois medical malpractice claim, you have the right to recover compensation for the full value of both your economic and non-economic losses.

The state has imposed a cap on the amount of non-economic damages in the past. Up until 2010, victims could only claim up to $500,000 in pain and suffering losses against a negligent doctor or healthcare professional. If the claim involved a hospital or medical facility, plaintiffs could recover up to $1 million in non-economic damages.

However, the Illinois Supreme Court found this rule to be unconstitutional in the 2010 case LeBron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. Any lawsuit filed after 2010 can recover compensation is not subject to these damage caps.

How to Calculate Your Medical Malpractice Settlement

When pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is first important to calculate the full extent of your damages. By entering negotiations or trial with a clear number in mind, you can avoid accepting an insufficient settlement offer.

Calculating economic damages is relatively simple. You can use evidence like medical bills, receipts, pay stubs, and invoices to determine your past expenses. A medical malpractice attorney can enlist the help of expert witnesses, like care planners and medical professionals, who can help determine long-term and future costs.

Non-economic damages are intangible, so you cannot use invoices to calculate them. To estimate the value of your pain and suffering award, an attorney will apply one of two common formulas:

  • The Per-Diem Method: You are assigned a dollar value for every day you are unable to work due to your injury. Your pain and suffering award will equal that dollar value times the number of days you were incapacitated.
  • The Multiplier Method: You are assigned a number, or multiplier, based on the severity of your injuries. Your pain and suffering award will equal that multiplier times the value of your economic losses.

If you plan on filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you need an attorney on your side. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.