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Is There a Cap On Medical Malpractice Compensation in Chicago?

Unfortunately, medical malpractice occurs far more commonly than many people realized. In Illinois medical malpractice is defined as patient harm that happened because of negligence on the part of an individual or institutional medical provider. Doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers in Illinois are required by regulations to carry medical malpractice insurance coverage. 

If you were the victim of medical malpractice, you have the right to pursue compensation through a legal claim. Notably, Illinois does not have a statutory cap on medical malpractice damages. Here, our Chicago medical malpractice attorney explains the most important things patients should know about their right to recover medical malpractice compensation in Illinois. 

No Cap On Medical Malpractice Damages in Illinois: You Can Pursue Full Compensation

Medical malpractice cases fall under state law. If you were the victim of medical malpractice in Chicago or elsewhere in Cook County, you have the right to bring a legal claim under Illinois law. Notably, many U.S. states cap non-economic damages for medical malpractice cases. However, Illinois does not cap medical malpractice damages. This absence of a statutory limit empowers victims to seek a complete financial recovery for both economic damages and non-economic damages. Without a cap on damages, Illinois ensures that each medical malpractice case is evaluated on its own merits. Injured patients may be able to recover compensation for: 

  • Emergency room care; 
  • Hospital bills; 
  • Other medical costs; 
  • Physical therapy; 
  • Medications; 
  • Medical equipment; 
  • Loss of wages; 
  • Loss of earning power; 
  • Pain and suffering; 
  • Mental health distress; 
  • Long-term disability; and
  • Wrongful death of a family member.

Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down Cap On Medical Malpractice Damages (2010)

You may have heard that Illinois does have a cap on medical malpractice damages. That is inaccurate—with the reason being that it is outdated information. In 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against the caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits in the case of Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. The court found that the state’s then-existing caps—which limited damages to $500,000 per physician and $1 million per hospital—infringed on the judicial powers to decide if a malpractice verdict should be reduced. In other words, the state’s highest court determined that the medical malpractice caps were unconstitutional. They were struck down. 

You Cannot Recover Compensation for Punitive Damages in an Illinois Malpractice Case

Broadly defined, punitive damages are a form of penalty damages levied against a defendant to punish especially harmful behavior and deter similar misconduct in the future. However, in Illinois, the law specifically prohibits the recovery of punitive damages in medical malpractice cases. The prohibition is based on the principle that medical malpractice awards should compensate the victim for actual harm suffered, rather than punish the healthcare provider. As such, compensation in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits is limited to the actual damages (economic and non-economic) suffered by the patient. There is no path to pursue punitive damages under Illinois malpractice law —even if the doctor or hospital was especially reckless. 

How to Prove the Value of Your Medical Malpractice Case in Illinois

Even though Illinois does not have a statutory cap on malpractice damages, it is crucial that medical negligence victims understand that insurance companies are exceptionally aggressive in these cases. They fight tirelessly to pay out the absolute minimum to victims and their families. Proving the value of a medical malpractice case in Illinois requires demonstrating both the extent of the injury suffered and the adverse impact it has had on the victim’s life. A Chicago, IL medical malpractice lawyer can help you gather and prepare the evidence you need. Any or all of the following may be used to help prove the value of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Chicago: 

  • Medical Documentation: Your medical records are key to proving both the existence of and severity of your injury. Be sure to gather all medical records that document the treatment, the injury, and subsequent complications. 
  • Expert Testimony: Employ medical experts who can testify to the standard of care expected, how it was breached, and the causation between the breach and the injury. Expert opinions can be crucial not just for establishing negligence and causality, but also potentially for proving the extent of a patient’s damages.
  • Economic Documentation: Be sure to itemize all costs directly related to the malpractice, such as: medical bills, future medical needs, lost wages, and loss of future ability to earn a living. Your economic damages help to form the basis of your malpractice claim. 
  • Non-Economic Documentation: Estimate the value of pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other intangible losses. This can be complex as it involves subjective evaluations. You may want to include impact statements. Personal and family statements can provide insights into the daily life impacts and the emotional toll suffered.

How Our Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help

Medical malpractice claims are complicated. The reality is that while state law may not put a statutory cap on your damages, it can still be challenging for injured victims to recover the full and fair financial support that they rightfully deserve. At Kennedy Watkins LLC, our team of Chicago attorneys are skilled, experienced advocates for clients. We have the specialized expertise to take on the full spectrum of medical malpractice cases. Our verdicts and settlements tell the story. Our Chicago, IL medical malpractice attorneys are standing by, ready to help you fight for the maximum settlement, including for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other types of damages. 

Contact Our Chicago Medical Negligence Lawyer for a Free Review of Your Case 

At Kennedy Watkins LLC, our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys are skilled, experienced, and solutions-focused advocates for patients. If you have any questions or concerns about medical malpractice compensation, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today for a free, no obligation initial appointment. With a legal office in Chicago, we advocate for medical malpractice victims in Cook County and all across Northern Illinois.

Attorney Watkins
Attorney Watkins Attorney Kennedy



Attorney Kennedy