Illinois Malpractice Verdicts | Malpractice Settlement Value

Sample settlements and verdicts are useful tools in conjunction with other tools to help victims better understand at least the range of values in a medical malpractice case.  Clearly, no two cases are the same and you cannot summarize a case in a paragraph.

Sometimes, I have tried or settled cases where there is no way I could summarize the case in a way that would explain why the plaintiff won or why the verdict was as high or low as it was.  Said differently, reading these is important and education in understanding the value of medical malpractice claims in Illinois but you can only learn so much from these.

If you have what appears to be an exactly identical case, the results could be very different. All of these verdicts are from 2014 to 2024.  Illinois is a big state.  A lot of cases go to trial here.

Illinois Malpractice Settlements and Verdicts

  • $14,000 Verdict (Illinois 2023): A 19-year-old in Illinois, suffering from a cough and fatigue for nearly two weeks, initially sought treatment at a clinic under Advocate Health and Hospitals Corporation. His condition, however, deteriorated, including the development of edema in his legs. Despite these worsening symptoms, the clinic’s response was limited, and no escalated care or hospitalization was provided. Later, he was examined by two doctors at the same clinic, but still, no immediate necessary treatment was administered. The young man tragically passed away due to myocarditis, a condition which, if diagnosed and treated properly, could have been managed. This led to a lawsuit against Advocate Health and Hospitals Corporation, culminating in a Chicago-area jury awarding a $14 million verdict to the patient’s family for the hospital’s failure to provide adequate care.
  • $7,250,000 Verdict (Illinois 2023): Following a car crash, a 35-week pregnant woman sought medical attention at a local county hospital, alarmed by her baby’s lack of movement post-accident. She later filed a lawsuit accusing the hospital staff of negligence, chiefly regarding their insufficient fetal health monitoring. By the time proper monitoring procedures were initiated, the situation necessitated an emergency C-section, which sadly resulted in the baby’s death. Evidence from a doctor’s testimony in the lawsuit indicated that if the hospital had maintained the standard care level, the child could have potentially survived without any neurological issues
  • $32,700,000 Verdict (Illinois 2023): A man who visited an emergency room with complaints of unexplained foot pain. Despite his high-risk medical profile, which made him especially vulnerable to blood clots, the attending emergency and family medicine physicians, along with their affiliated practice groups, failed to diagnose his condition promptly. This oversight led to severe complications, culminating in the amputation of the man’s foot. After an intense two-and-a-half-week trial in Cook County Circuit Court and six hours of jury deliberation, the court awarded the patient $32.7 million.
  • $5,500,000 Verdict (Illinois 2023): In this nursing home negligence case, an elderly resident who required continuous oxygen support suffocated to death when her room lost electrical power. Her daughters frantically looked around for over 20 minutes for someone from the nursing home to help their mother but could find nobody. The nursing home admitted that it was negligent but the case went to trial on the issue of damages.
  • $6,000,000 Verdict (Illinois 2023): Despite the well-known dangers of opioids, a doctor continuously increased a woman’s prescription levels without monitoring the effects. The woman died due to acute hydrocodone toxicity.  The doctor and her pain clinic were ordered to pay $6 million by a Chicago jury over allegations of over-prescribing opioids that resulted in a patient’s death.
  • $49,550,000 Verdict (Illinois 2022): A 42-year-old man suffered flank pain. He was admitted for acute cholecystitis. The man underwent a cholecystectomy. He suffered multiple post-operative complications, including an intra-abdominal infection, septic shock, and abdominal compartment syndrome. The man alleged negligence against the hospital. He claimed its staff failed to monitor him over 12 days, recognize sepsis signs and symptoms, order a CT scan, appreciate intra-abdominal infection signs, and timely perform surgery. The man received a $49,550,000 verdict. [Post Surgical Malpractice]
  • $1,365,000 Verdict (Illinois 2022): A 100-year-old woman took three-milligram Warfarin tablets instead of one-milligram ones. She developed respiratory distress, supratherapeutic anticoagulation, dysphagia, and acalculous cholecystitis. The woman died from hypertensive cardiovascular disease. Her family alleged negligence against the doctor who prescribed Warfarin. They claimed he prescribed a high dose and failed to manage and monitor the deceased’s intake. The Cook County jury awarded $1,365,000. [Medication Error]
  • $2,000,000 Verdict (Illinois 2022): A man with rickets fell. He suffered bilateral hand and foot numbness and tingling and spinal cord compression. He underwent a cervical laminectomy and fusion. The man suffered permanent kyphosis and limited neck mobility. He could neither look up nor extend his neck. The man required a straw for drinking. He alleged negligence against the surgeon. The man claimed he improperly placed screws that were too short, failed to assess his cervical area, and failed to provide post-surgical follow-up. A jury awarded $2,000,000.
  • $8,050,000 Verdict (Illinois 2021): A 59-year-old woman suffered a product cough, chills, nausea, and a low-grade fever. She presented to the ER. The woman received an upper respiratory infection diagnosis. She was discharged. The woman’s condition worsened. She returned to the ER. The woman was diagnosed with MRSA. She developed sepsis, bacteremia, and multi-organ failure. The woman died from her injuries. Her family alleged negligence against the hospital. They failed to rule out a MRSA infection and appreciate her frequent exposure to the infection. The jury awarded $8,050,000.
  • $6,528,000 Verdict (Illinois 2021): A woman underwent a mammogram. The radiologist interpreted the results as normal. One year later, the woman received a Stage III breast cancer diagnosis. She underwent bilateral mastectomies, radiation, and chemotherapy. The woman’s life expectancy was reduced. She alleged negligence against the radiologist. The woman claimed he failed to properly interpret her mammogram, examine her breast lump, perform an ultrasound, and provide accurate medical advice.
  • $2,375,000 Settlement (Illinois 2020): 30-year-old woman presented to the hospital with chest pain. She was diagnosed with microscopic hematuria based on a urine test and sent her home with medication. Five days later, the chest pain and tachycardia came back and she was given different medication without further testing. Nineteen days later she died of a rare blood clot disorder (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura). Her estate alleged that both medical providers failed to order several tests that would have diagnosed her condition early enough to prevent her death.
  • $734,000 Verdict (Illinois 2020): Pain management doctor was accused of negligently administering a steroid injection in a patient’s neck. The injection punctured the dural and ultimately caused the patient’s death. The defense argued that there was no evidence of causation.
  • $600,906 Verdict (Illinois 2020): Plaintiff suffered rhabdomyolysis (a rare condition that causes muscle breakdown) from interaction between 2 different cholesterol drugs. She sued the doctor for negligent prescribing and Walgreens for negligently dispensing.
  • $12,000,000 Verdict (Illinois 2019): Decedent, female in her early 70s, went to ER with symptoms of pneumonia. Radiologist noted a potentially cancerous “abnormality” on the chest x-ray, but no evidence of pneumonia so she was sent home. A year later she was diagnosed with lung cancer, but by then it was already terminal and she died soon after. Her estate sued the doctors for failing to diagnose her cancer at the ER visit.
  • $48,195,000 Settlement (Illinois 2018): Woman came to the hospital at 37 weeks pregnant after her water broke. Fetal heart strips showing warning signs, but her OB/GYN sent her home after only talking to her on the phone. 4 days later she was rushed back for an emergency C-section. Her son suffered oxygen deprivation and was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy.
  • $5,000,921 Verdict (Illinois 2016): A 36-year-old woman died of cardiac arrest after surgeon negligently cut an artery during a hysterectomy procedure. Warning signs of internal bleeding were not discovered until it was too late.
  • $3,000,000 Settlement (Illinois 2014): A 35-year-old woman is recovering from a tracheostomy procedure. A nurse dislodged her trachea tube while giving her a bath, causing acidosis, brain damage, and cardiac arrest. The patient later died as a result of the botched bed-bath.
  • $2,747,768 Verdict (Illinois 2014): Patient suffers a fatal pulmonary embolism shortly after undergoing a hysterectomy procedure. Her family sues for wrongful death alleging the doctors failed to recognize the symptoms of the blood clot and take preventive measure. The defense argued that the decedent made the blood clot more likely by refusing a blood transfusion on religious grounds.

Illinois Medical Malpractice Statistics

  • In 2022, there were 861 medical malpractice reports filed in Illinois.
  • The average payout for a medical malpractice claim in Illinois is $1.3 million. The median payout is lower: $500,000.  Why? Large medical malpractice lawsuits in Illinois, using birth injury claims, distort the average.
  • Illinois ranks 10th in the nation for medical malpractice payouts per capita.
  • Who long does it take to settle a malpractice lawsuit in Illinois? The average time it takes to resolve a medical malpractice claim in Illinois is 3.5 years.

Illinois Medical Malpractice Law

Let’s look at some of the key things you need to know if you are interested in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois.

What You Need to Prove

Medical malpractice, also known as medical negligence, occurs when a healthcare professional provides treatment that deviates from established standards in the medical community, causing injury to a patient. This can involve errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management.

In Illinois, a plaintiff alleging medical malpractice must demonstrate that:

  1. A doctor-patient relationship existed, establishing a duty of care.
  2. The healthcare professional breached this duty by failing to conform to the standard of care expected of a reasonable healthcare provider.
  3. The breach directly caused injury or harm to the patient. So you can have unconnected negligence and harm.
  4. The patient suffered actual damages, such as physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical costs, or lost earning capacity.

Expert Affidavit Requirement

As part of the process, under Illinois malpractice law (735 ILCS 5/2-622), plaintiffs are required to file an affidavit and written report from a healthcare professional who practices in the same area as the defendant or a related area. The report must confirm there is a reasonable and meritorious cause for filing the case that meets the elements set out above.

Informed Consent

Health care providers must obtain informed consent from patients before proceeding with treatment, barring emergencies. Failure to obtain informed consent may be grounds for a malpractice claim if the patient suffers harm that they were not adequately warned about.

Vicarious Liability

A hospital can be held vicariously liable for the actions of a physician providing care at the hospital, irrespective of whether the physician is an independent contractor, unless the patient is aware, or should have been aware, that the physician is not a hospital employee.

To establish a hospital’s liability under the doctrine of apparent authority, a plaintiff must demonstrate:

  • The hospital, or its agent, acted in a way that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the allegedly negligent individual was an employee or agent of the hospital.
  • The hospital had knowledge of and acquiesced in these acts that created the appearance of authority.
  • The plaintiff acted in reliance upon the conduct of the hospital or its agent, consistent with ordinary care and prudence.

Holding Out as Agent

The “holding out” part of the apparent agency doctrine is critical in determining whether a hospital can be held liable for the actions of a physician who is not their actual employee but appears to be so. This concept is based on how the hospital represents, or “holds out,” the doctor’s relationship with the hospital to the public, especially the patients.

Here are the key aspects of the “holding out” factor:

  1. Perception of the Physician’s Role: It’s about whether the hospital’s actions lead a reasonable person to conclude that the physician is an employee or agent of the hospital. This perception can be formed based on various hospital communications, actions, or overall presentation.
  2. Objective Assessment: The evaluation is objective, not subjective. It doesn’t matter whether a specific patient actually believed the doctor was an employee, but whether a reasonable person, in the patient’s position, would believe so.
  3. Hospital’s Conduct and Communication: The focus is on the hospital’s conduct – how it presents its medical staff in its advertising, signage, website, and other forms of public communication. If the hospital’s presentation implies that the physicians are its employees or agents, it could be held responsible under the apparent agency theory.
  4. Clarity and Notices: If the hospital clearly communicates that its physicians are independent contractors (for example, through signs, forms, or verbal notifications), this reduces the likelihood that it can be held liable under apparent agency. The clarity and visibility of such disclaimers or notices are crucial.
  5. Patient’s Expectation and Understanding: The assessment also considers what the patient understood or should have understood about the physician’s status. For example, if a patient visits a hospital’s specialty clinic, they might reasonably assume that the doctors there are hospital employees unless informed otherwise.

So the “holding out” factor is about whether the hospital’s presentation and communications create a reasonable belief in the minds of patients that the doctors working there are hospital employees or agents, thereby making the hospital potentially liable for the doctors’ actions under the apparent agency doctrine.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Illinois is generally two years from the date the victim knew, or through reasonable diligence, should have known of the injury, but in no event can exceed four years from the date the act or omission occurred (735 ILCS 5/13-212). For minors under the age of 18, the limitations period extends to eight years or the minor’s 22nd birthday, whichever comes first.

Illinois Malpractice News Feed

January 4, 2024: In an important new appellate opinion, the plaintiff got a new trial in a vicarious liablity malpractice case.

The plaintiff appealed the dismissal of her medical malpractice lawsuit against West Suburban Medical Center (WSMC). Her claim argued that WSMC was indirectly responsible for Dr. Victor Romano’s actions, which allegedly led to the amputation of her leg due to a missed cancer diagnosis. The court had initially granted summary judgment in favor of WSMC, but this decision was contested by the plaintiff.

The Appellate Court identified significant uncertainties regarding whether WSMC presented itself as Dr. Romano’s employer or principal (known as the “holding out” element), and whether the plaintiff justifiably relied on WSMC for her medical care (the “justifiable reliance” element). Contributing factors included WSMC’s promotional activities for its physicians, the location of Dr. Romano’s office on WSMC’s premises, his receipt of a WSMC badge, and his various leadership roles at the hospital. Furthermore, the consent form the plaintiff signed in Dr. Romano’s office did not unambiguously state that he was not an employee of WSMC.  It is so easy to put that in the informed consent documents.

We flush out some of the law that came out of this case in the vicarious liability discussion above.

November 4, 2023: A patient has filed a lawsuit claiming he became paralyzed from the waist down after a surgical procedure at Memorial Hospital-Belleville went wrong.

The lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court names a doctor and Protestant Memorial Medical Center Inc. as defendants. Plaintiff’s malpractice lawsuit alleges that a diagnostic aortogram performed by the doctor led to a dissection of his aorta and subsequent bilateral limb ischemia, necessitating emergency surgery.

He claims that an MRI later confirmed a T12 spinal cord infarction as the cause of his paralysis. The suit accuses the doctor of negligence during the surgery and failure to prevent spinal damage, and it contends that the defendants did not fully inform him of the procedure’s risks.

October 25, 2023: The Cook County Board approved two significant settlements for medical malpractice claims connected to patient deaths at Stroger Hospital.

In one case, a $6.75 million settlement will be paid out after a woman who was 35 weeks pregnant did not receive adequate fetal monitoring following a car accident. Despite arriving at the emergency room and reporting no fetal movement since the accident, the lawsuit claimed the hospital staff did not properly monitor the fetal well-being, respond to a problematic CT scan, perform an ultrasound, or correctly place an electronic fetal monitor.

This resulted in the baby being stillborn after an emergency cesarean section. An accompanying physician’s testimony suggested that with proper care, the baby could have survived.

In a separate case, a $1.8 million settlement was approved for the estate of a deceased patient who was treated for severe aplastic anemia. The lawsuit alleged that the hospital staff failed to adequately monitor the patient while administering a medication called Promacta, leading to liver failure and death.

September 20, 2023An Illinois appeals panel affirmed a $47 million verdict against Advocate Health concerning a medical malpractice case. Joseph and Christine Browning initiated the lawsuit after Joseph developed sepsis after his gallbladder removal in 2015. The lawsuit alleged the defendants misidentified an intra-abdominal infection leading to severe complications. The hospital did what malpractice defendants do: try to blame the patient.  In this case, they blamed a prior gastric bypass procedure for the complications. A Cook County jury did not buy it.

September 1, 2023: Illinois law now allows for punitive damages in wrongful death cases.  But there is an exclusion for medical malpractice claims.

June 18, 2023: Over four decades ago, Illinois implemented a legal provision to streamline medical malpractice suits, allowing plaintiffs to initially name healthcare providers as respondents for discovery before possibly upgrading them to defendants based on evidence.

The Illinois Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision in Cleeton v. SIU Healthcare, clarified that this practice, outlined in § 2-402 of the Code of Civil Procedure from 1976, was not meant to hinder the filing of malpractice suits.

This came as the court overturned lower court dismissals of a lawsuit by a mother accusing healthcare providers of errors resulting in her son’s death. The law aimed to minimize unwarranted litigation against healthcare providers, but the courts had misinterpreted the evidence threshold needed to convert a respondent to a defendant.

The Illinois Supreme Court decision underscored that a plaintiff only needs to show ‘probable cause’ to believe a respondent might be liable, not definitive proof at the discovery stage, thus allowing the mother’s case to proceed to trial.

May 28, 2023: The Third District appeals court affirmed a $2.1 million verdict in a wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit. The opinion rejecting a primary care physician’s appeal to limit damages based on the widower’s remarriage 13 months post his spouse’s death. The court clarified that the case revolved around a statutory cause of action for wrongful death, not the common law action for loss of consortium. This verdict reinforces that damages for loss of marital services don’t necessarily cease upon remarriage, emphasizing a broader interpretation of the Wrongful Death Act and suggesting that damages in such cases should be assessed distinctly from consortium considerations.

May 18, 2023: the Illinois Supreme Court, in a unanimous 6-0 decision (one justice abstaining), has sanctioned a mother to reclassify one of her son’s doctors from the status of “respondent in discovery” to a primary defendant in her ongoing medical negligence lawsuit.

The mother’s lawsuit alleges that medical negligence by SIU Medicine and associated entities contributed to her son’s untimely demise. This landmark ruling could set a significant precedent for similar cases in the future, particularly in the realm of medical malpractice and liability assessment.

Contact Us About Illinois Medical Malpractice Cases

If you have a potential medical malpractice case in Illinois, call our malpractice lawyers today for a free consultation. We have a network of local medical malpractice firms in Illinois that we can work with to bring your case and get maximum compensation. Call us today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online.

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