Illinois Medical Malpractice: A Plaintiff’s State of the State
It’s no secret that Illinois is a plaintiff-friendly state. While true in several types of litigation, it is especially true for medical malpractice plaintiffs.
One indicator of the volume of malpractice litigation in the state can be found in Medscape’s 2021 Malpractice Report. The online health information giant surveyed 4,300 physicians nationwide between May and August 2021, asking if they’d been sued for malpractice in the prior year.
The report ranked Illinois fourth in the country for the prevalence of its doctors which reported being sued for malpractice. The top spot went to its next-door neighbor, Indiana, which was followed by New York and Pennsylvania.
Medscape noted that the prevalence of medical malpractice litigation in a state is tied to the extent of tort reforms, the number of doctors in the state, patient demographics, and legislatures’ efforts to cut down on frivolous litigation.
Illinois’ legislature and governor have been panned by groups that support tort reform, which would make it more difficult for injured parties to sue doctors and health systems, among other parties.
In December, the American Tort Reform Foundation, ranked Cook, Madison and St. Clair Counties in fifth place on its 2021-2022 Judicial Hellholes list, a jump from 8th place the prior year.
The group, which advocates for tort reform nationwide, places jurisdictions on the Judicial Hellholes list which it says are known for allowing innovative lawsuits, welcoming litigation tourism and expanding civil liability.
While the counties were largely listed for asbestos litigation and Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act lawsuits, the group took swings at the Illinois General Assembly, which it deemed “one of the most plaintiff-friendly legislatures in the country” and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whom the group asserted “supports a liability-expanding agenda to the detriment of Illinois citizens and small businesses.”
The group also marked the 20th anniversary of the Judicial Hellholes report by compiling an Everlasting Judicial Hellholes list of repeat offenders, including Illinois on the list.
In its rationale, it said that a jurisdiction from the state has been on each report since its inception and added that the Illinois plaintiffs’ bar is one of the most powerful in the country in terms of political influence, giving millions of dollars to lawmakers and office seekers.
One recent example of plaintiff-friendly legislation went into effect last summer after Gov. Pritzker signed into law a bill allowing plaintiffs to collect six percent prejudgment interest on judgments they receive for their personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
The law, Senate Bill 72, took effect July 1, 2021. Previously, Illinois law only allowed plaintiffs to receive nine percent interest post-judgment, meaning the interest accrued following the date their judgment was entered.
Proponents of the law, including the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, said the law would incentivize earlier resolution of cases.
In a column for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, ILTA President J. Matthew Dudley explained that under the new law, defendants are provided a set off on prejudgment interest if they make a plaintiff a written settlement offer within the first 12 months that the case is pending. If the plaintiff rejects the offer, the set off will only accrue on the difference between the highest written offer and the case’s final judgment.
Med Law Advisory Partners works with Illinois plaintiffs on their medical malpractice matters. One way we can assist plaintiffs is through helping them verify that their claims have merit.
Under Illinois law, plaintiffs are required to submit an affidavit with their complaint declaring that the affiant (typically, their attorney) has consulted with a healthcare professional whom they reasonably believe:
- Is knowledgeable about the relevant issues involved in the particular action;
- Who currently or in the last six years has practiced or taught in the same area of health care or medicine that is at issue in the particular action; and
- is qualified by experience or demonstrated competence in the subject of the case.
There are several advantages to engaging Med Law Advisory Partners early in your litigation.
First, because our consulting nurse experts offer their knowledge and talents at a cost-effective rate substantially lower than a testifying expert rate, engaging Med Law can help minimize unnecessary expenses at the beginning of the case, which is particularly important when a case is found to have little or no merit.
Our consulting nurse experts have decades of clinical experience in a wide variety of specialties and established practice in managing the nuances of medical-legal claims.
They’re able to partner with the legal team early to quickly assess the strengths and weaknesses of a claim and inform litigation strategy — a skill not found in many testifying experts. Consulting nurse experts use data-driven processes, standard of care evaluation, and clinical judgment to identify the issues that truly matter and help the legal team determine the best path to claim resolution.
If, and when needed, our team also can help plaintiffs work with a testifying expert who supports the established theories of liability.
Additionally, we can help plaintiffs’ counsel pinpoint important issues in a case quickly, including assessing the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries, their level of recovery, and their overall damages. The result is a savings in time and expense for the client.
Contact us for more information on how we help Illinois plaintiffs in their medical malpractice matters.