Are Damages Limited or Capped in Medical Malpractice Cases?

Medical malpractice | February 7, 2021

Medical mistakes can lead to devastating injuries or illnesses for victims. Not only can medical mistakes exasperate existing patient conditions, but they can also cause new injuries or illnesses that afflict the patient. Unfortunately, researchers at Johns Hopkins show that preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.

These mistakes also leave many survivors in their wakes, such as victims and family members that are left dealing with the devastating consequences. Here, our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers want to discuss whether or not the amount of compensation available in a medical malpractice lawsuit is capped by law in Illinois.

What are the Caps on Medical Malpractice Compensation in Illinois?

As of this writing, there are no limitations on the amount of compensation that a medical malpractice victim can receive in Illinois. This is not always been the case. Illinois, like many other states around the country, used to place a cap on the total amount a medical malpractice victim could receive for non-economic compensation. Prior to 2010, medical malpractice victims could only receive a maximum of $500,000 for cases involving a negligent medical professional or doctor and $1 million for cases against a negligent medical facility.

However, in 2010, the case of LeBron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital was brought before the Illinois Supreme Court. The Court ruled that these damage caps were unconstitutional. As a result, all caps on medical malpractice cases were lifted for all cases filed after the ruling. That is where we stand today in the state of Illinois.

There have never been caps placed on the amount of economic compensation a medical malpractice victim can receive in Illinois.

Illinois Medical Malpractice Claims – Types of Compensation Available

As we delve into discussing caps on medical malpractice compensation, we need to briefly define the various types of conversation available. In general, victims of medical malpractice will be entitled to both economic and non-economic compensation if their claim is successful.

  • Economic compensation. This is also referred to as special damages, and this type of compensation covers the expenses that are quantifiable in the aftermath of a medical malpractice incident. Some of the most common types of economic compensation available in a medical malpractice claim include coverage of:
    • Medical bills
    • Lost income
    • General out-of-pocket
    • Compensation for medical devices
  • Non-economic compensation. This is also referred to as general damages, and this type of compensation refers to more immeasurable types of losses that result from medical malpractice. Some of the most common types of non-economic compensation that may be awarded to a medical malpractice victim include the following:
    • Pain and suffering damages
    • Loss of enjoyment of life damages
    • Loss of future earning capacity
    • Loss of consortium for a spouse

Calculating economic compensation is typically done by gathering bills, receipts, pay stubs, etc. However, calculating non-like another conversation is a bit more challenging because there is usually no direct quantifiable “proof” of these losses. Medical malpractice attorneys will typically use a multiplier method in which they take the economic damages and multiply them by a set number to reach the total for non-economic damages. For example, if economic damage is reached $300,000 for a medical malpractice claim, an attorney may use a multiplier of “three” to reach a total of $900,000 for non-economic damages.

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