When a patient’s worsened condition or permanent disability results from delayed treatment, the injured patient is entitled to compensation for pain and suffering. Unlike types of compensation that can be calculated, like medical bills or lost wages, “pain and suffering” is an intangible loss, whether it’s due to depression or diminished quality of life. Since 1970, the Chicago delayed treatment lawyers of [firm name] have helped hurt patients recover compensation for pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice.
Delayed Treatment and Medical Negligence
The law holds healthcare providers to a high standard of care. When medical malpractice might have occurred, the law applies a medical standard of care test. This amounts to determining whether a competent and reasonably skilled healthcare provider in the same circumstances would have provided the same care that the provider in question did.
If the delay in treatment resulted from circumstances that would have made the answer to a question about whether another reasonably skilled provider would have performed in the same way “no,” then medical malpractice may exist. When this medical negligence causes pain and suffering, patients might be eligible to recover compensation from doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers.
Medical Malpractice Causing Pain and Suffering
Medical malpractice in the form of delayed treatment can occur if communication mistakes prevent referrals or test requests aren’t processed. In other cases, a doctor may not think a condition is serious or give it the urgent treatment it may need. Sometimes delayed treatment could be the result of long wait times to see specialists. Sometimes, the harm is irreversible, such as when an aggressive cancer was supposed to be tested, but the tests weren’t ordered, and the cancer rampages unchecked.
Medical malpractice victims qualify for compensation for:
- Injuries that patients could have recovered from with timely treatment and
- Grief, sorrow, and mental suffering resulting from permanent injuries
Illinois law does not provide an exact method to calculate pain and suffering or place a “maximum” on compensation recoverable by injury victims. Your attorney will be able to advise you about the value of your pain and suffering claim.
Compensation for Physical Pain and Suffering
Common complaints of pain and suffering may involve:
- Migraine headaches
- Pinched nerves
- Chronic back pain
- Muscle soreness
- Stomach cramps
- Physical pain from serious diseases, such as cancer
Patients in serious physical discomfort often claim painkillers cannot touch their level of suffering. Physical pain can be debilitating, leaving patients doubled over and unable to think of anything else. If doctors delay diagnosis or treatment and worsen physical pain, injured patients might qualify for future pain and suffering compensation.
Compensation for Mental Pain and Suffering
Delayed treatment or diagnosis can prolong a patient’s emotional trauma and fear of the unknown. Although professionals can never guarantee immediate results, they have a legal duty to follow protocol to improve patients’ health. Extended bouts of stress and inability to resume “normal” life may cause mental anguish in the forms of:
- Anhedonia (loss of pleasure)
- Cognitive impairment
- Anxiety, panic attacks
- Grief, depression
- Somatic disorders
- Post-traumatic stress
- Neuropathic pain
Patients rely upon medical professionals to administer the correct treatments for their ailments. They submit to a battery of tests to “rule out” certain diseases and hope for a viable course of action. Preventable delays in diagnosis and treatment have deleterious mental effects that affect the patient’s quality of life and contribution to society.
Emotional distress is often more difficult to ignore than physical suffering because treatment is neither fast nor long-lasting. Whereas joints and bones can heal, psychological pain has no direct cure. Despair impacts a patient’s life quality but is harder to measure than lost wages or medical costs. Injured victims are nevertheless entitled to compensation for mental pain and suffering due to medical malpractice.
Previous Limitations on Pain and Suffering
Illinois laws previously placed a $500,000 cap on awards for intangible losses paid per physician and $1 million per healthcare facility. This kept payouts within the confines of medical malpractice insurance and limited liability for negligent for-profit hospitals. The Legislature thought that the increased cost of liability insurance placed an unfair financial burden on medical providers, reducing the availability of medical care in parts of Illinois.
However, the Illinois Supreme Court did away with the cap in a 2010 decision in which parents claimed a hospital’s negligent delivery resulted in permanent injuries to their newborn. They alleged their injured baby sustained pain and suffering in an amount that would greatly exceed the limitations allowed in the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure at that time. The court agreed, finding the cap on intangible compensation unconstitutional.
Pain and Suffering Exceeding Economic Losses
The parents in Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital sought pain and suffering stemming from their child’s lost opportunity to fully develop and provide the parents with companionship. The baby was alive but suffered life-altering conditions that would keep the infant permanently dependent upon the parents. The jury was asked to imagine the pain and suffering arising from the baby’s:
- Brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Disability, disfigurement
- Permanent need to feed through a gastronomy tube
- Lifelong impairment of neurological function
These, in turn, resulted in the parents’ lost consortium and companionship. Even if the compensation for pain and suffering exceeded the award for economic losses, the statutory cap improperly disregarded the jury’s “careful deliberative process” in determining what would fairly compensate the injured parents, who would then have to forego the large part of their award that exceeded the cap. The court ruled that a cap on non-economic losses in Illinois was unconstitutional, violating the separation of powers clause.
Recover Full and Fair Compensation for Pain and Suffering
Since 1970, the Chicago pain and suffering attorneys of [firm name] have helped people who were injured by healthcare providers pursue fair compensation for pain and suffering.
If medical malpractice occurred, the healthcare provider should take responsibility for the exacerbated pain, mental anguish, or brain injury caused by delayed treatment.
If you believe delayed treatment caused permanent impairment or other significant injury, consult one of our dedicated lawyers. Call us at 312-346-8620 or contact us online for a confidential consultation about how we can help.