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Medical Malpractice

What Are the Odds of Winning a Medical Malpractice Suit?

March 21, 2022

Every case has its own unique set of facts, and your chances of winning a medical malpractice claim will depend on what occurred in your situation, and whether the correct steps are taken to preserve evidence and prove what happened. Medical malpractice lawsuits are legally and factually difficult cases to successfully prosecute. Insurance companies spend enormous amounts of money hiring defense attorneys and medical experts who utilize every possible argument to try and defeat a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The Chances of Winning a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

A twenty-year study conducted by the National Institute of Health provides some insight into litigation of medical malpractice cases. This study found that in approximately 90% of cases in which medical malpractice victims presented weak evidence, juries returned verdicts in favor of medical providers. In 70% of cases where medical malpractice victims presented borderline evidence, juries also returned verdicts in favor of medical providers. Finally, juries returned verdicts favoring medical providers in approximately 50% of cases featuring strong evidence of negligence. In short, the legally and factually complex nature of a medical malpractice claim means the odds favor medical providers at trial.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

A viable medical malpractice claim requires presenting evidence to prove more likely than not (i.e., 50.01%), each of the four Ds of medical negligence (Duty, Deviation, Direct Causation, and Damages). This means you first must prove your healthcare provider owed you a duty of care. A duty of care is established once a healthcare provider-patient relationship has been established, and the care and treatment have occurred within the scope of that relationship. You must also prove your healthcare provider deviated from this duty by providing care that fell below the applicable standard of care for a professional in his or her field of practice. This element is arguably the most difficult to prove because unlike the duty automobile drivers owe each other, which is codified in Illinois State law, there is no written law defining the standard of care a medical provider owes his or her patient. Instead, testimony by an expert witness is required to define the standard of care in the medical provider’s field of practice. For example, if you suffered an injury due to a brain surgeon’s negligence, you need a brain surgeon to testify as an expert witness. The brain surgeon must define the standard of care brain surgeons owe their patients and explain how the defendant surgeon failed to comply with the standard of care. Finally, you must prove that there was a direct cause of damages as a result of the healthcare provider’s deviations from the standard of care. 

What Are Common Types of Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs in a variety of ways. Common types of medical errors include:

  • Anesthesia errors – When a doctor administers the incorrect dosage of anesthesia during surgery, a patient may suffer brain damage.
  • Birth injuries – Common errors during labor and delivery can cause a child to suffer a permanent brain injury due to a lack of oxygen and/or blood flow (hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy).
  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnose a medical condition – These errors occur when a doctor fails to diagnose the correct medical condition.
  • Prescription or pharmacy errors – Patients can suffer severe injuries or death if a medical professional prescribes or orders the wrong type of medication or when certain drugs are administered that should not be given together.
  • Surgical errors – Common examples include medical professionals that fail to correctly perform a surgery, negligently cut an unrelated organ or tissue, or fail to remove a surgical object.

Medical malpractice also includes actions not taken by a medical professional. For example, the failure to provide follow-up care may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Substantially Increases Your Chances of Winning Your Claim

Many personal injury lawyers decline to represent medical malpractice victims. They are unable or unwilling to invest the time, money, and resources that are required to properly litigate a medical malpractice case. Some personal injury lawyers are afraid to litigate difficult cases, such as those involving birth injuries. Retaining an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can substantially increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding your injury, and gather the proper evidence necessary to prove your case and maximize your financial recovery. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can also prepare your case to anticipate and overcome potential defenses, and utilize his or her advocacy skills to effectively present your case at trial.

Maximizing Your Compensation in a Medical Malpractice Case

The compensation you may receive is based on your damages. Illinois allows medical malpractice victims to claim economic and non-economic damages but does not permit claiming punitive damages. Economic damages are those which can be quantified, such as your past and future medical expenses, lost wages/earnings, etc. Non-economic damages are the financial compensation you can receive for things like the pain and suffering you endured, your disability or loss of the normal enjoyment of life, and any disfigurement due to medical negligence. When medical malpractice results in wrongful death, non-economic damages can include grief, sorrow, loss of guidance and support, etc. 

An experienced medical malpractice attorney can maximize your compensation by fully exploring and proving the amounts of both your economic damages and non-economic damages. 

If you think you may have a possible medical malpractice claim, contact the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Goldberg & Schulkin Law Offices: (312) 236-4146.

About The Author

Photo of Jeffrey M. Goldberg
Attorney Jeffrey M. Goldberg, founder of Goldberg & Schulkin Law Offices, has spent his entire professional career handling cases involving birth injury, medical malpractice, product liability, aviation and related accidents.