Currently, there are no limits on the amount of damages a person can receive for a medical malpractice claim in Illinois. The issue, however, has been debated for years.
Many states have placed caps on the amount that can be awarded for non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims. This means that a person can only receive so much for pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of companionship or any damage that is non-quantifiable or difficult to place a dollar value on. However, economic damages, such as medical expenses or loss of income, have no limit on the amount that can be recovered.
Some lawmakers in Illinois have tried several times to have caps placed on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims. The intent behind this was to keep health care costs low and to give doctors incentive to stay in Illinois. Opponents of damage caps argue that medical malpractice compensation awards have limited effect on health care costs and that Illinois has not experienced a shortage of doctors.
In 2005, Illinois passed a law to limit non-economic damages. The law that placed caps on medical malpractice damages was imposed on all cases, regardless of the severity of injury or the age of the injured person. Additionally, the law stated that a jury would not be informed of the limits. Therefore, even if a jury returned a verdict that awarded a victim millions, the trial court would then have to reduce the amount the approved$500,000 against doctors and $1 million against hospitals.
However, damage caps in medical malpractice claims were found unconstitutional in 2010. The Illinois Supreme Court found that limits on medical malpractice damages interfered with the court's abilities to assess fair damage awards and violated the separation of powers clause in the state's constitution. The Court also found that the limits were arbitrary.
Previously, two laws imposing limits to medical malpractice damage claims were struck down in 1997. In Illinois, punitive damages, or damages meant to punish a guilty party and to prevent anyone else from acting similarly, are not permitted in medical malpractice claims.
Medical malpractice issues can leave people with huge financial burdens. To win a medical malpractice case in Chicago, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney on your side. For more information regarding your rights in a Chicago medical malpractice claim, contact a Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney from Nemeroff Law Offices at 312–629–8800.