Medical malpractice lawsuits are some of the most complex types of civil suits and can take years to get to the settlement stage, if they ever get to that point. There is a lot of work involved and special litigation procedures that must be followed. If you are a victim of medical malpractice in Illinois, understand that your case will take time to pursue and get ready to hang in there for the long haul and often to trial.
Illinois Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice cases are not as cut and dry as headlines often make them seem. While large verdicts of millions of dollars often make the news, what you do not hear about is all the work that went into the case, the time it took and how many other similar cases were lost once they went to trial. The Jury Verdict Reporter did an analysis on medical malpractice cases over a five-year period, 2002-2007, both in Cook County and throughout the rest of Illinois. The breakdown shows how many cases were won, what the median and average verdict awards were and the amount of the highest award each year. Some interesting numbers from that report:
- Both Cook County and the rest of Illinois had a similar win rate. In Cook County, 32.4% of medical malpractice trials ended in plaintiff verdicts, while the rest of the state average 30.3% over the 5-year period.
- In five years, only 41 cases ended in a trial award of $5 million or more in the state of Illinois.
- The highest medical malpractice award was $32,036,787 in 2004-2005 in Cook County.
- The average verdict ranged between $2 and $5 million in Cook County, with a median verdict ranging between $975,000 and $2.5 million.
The Settlement Fallacy
For some reason, many people believe that big medical companies rush to settle cases, handing out millions of dollars to stop from going to trial. This is far from reality. In the report on Chicago medical malpractice trials, very few cases had any offer of a settlement when the verdict was handed out. And of those that did, only a handful was above $500,000. In the 5-year period, only 27% of Cook County trials and 17% of the rest of the state’s trials had settlement offers on the table when the jury returned with a verdict. Out of over 700 medical malpractice trials, only 52 had a settlement offer of $500,000 or more. Of course there are some medical malpractice cases that not make it to trial and do settle out of court. But to assume that these are the majority or that it is a quick process is just not the case. The Jury Verdict Reporter reports about 150 medical malpractice settlements each year in their publication. The important thing to remember is that more cases go to trial than settle and to understand that these types of cases will most likely take time and effort to come to fruition.