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Illinois Appeals Court Cuts $15 Million From Medical Malpractice Verdict

Posted on in Medical Malpractice

Rockford medical malpractice attorneyWhen you place yourself under the care of a hospital and a team of medical professionals, you expect everyone involved to do their best to meet your needs. Doctors and medical staff members, however, are human, and they sometimes make mistakes. In some cases, medical professionals can be blatantly negligent, and when this happens, the patients who suffer harm as a result may be entitled to collect compensation for their injuries.

The amount compensation a victim of medical malpractice can receive depends on a large number of factors, including the seriousness of the injury and how it will affect the rest of their lives. A recent appeals court ruling in Illinois indicates that if the circumstances of a case change during trial, the verdict can be directly affected.

A Quick Recap

The case in question involved a 42-year-old Illinois woman who sought treatment at a Cook County hospital in 2005 for a soft tissue infection in her neck. Due to swelling in her throat, doctors installed a tracheostomy tube but failed to properly account for the effects of a blood-thinning medication that the woman was already taking. The combination of the medication and the trach tube led to several incidents of bleeding, including a serious event where the patient went into respiratory arrest. Before proper action was taken, the patient suffered serious brain damage and partial paralysis.

The woman and her family sued the hospital in 2006, but the case did not go to trial until November of 2015. While the jury was deliberating its verdict regarding liability and damages, the woman died. The jury was not informed of the woman’s death and returned a verdict in her favor the very next day. The verdict included damages totaling $22.1 million.

The Appeal

The hospital appealed the trial court’s decision on several grounds, including that a significant portion of the awarded damages was for future medical bills and other future considerations. The woman’s family claimed that the facts of the case had already been presented to the finder of fact—the jury, in this case—so the verdict should stand, regardless of the victim’s death.

In February of this year, a First District appellate panel ruled that if the case had been a bench trial—heard only by a judge—it would have been “ripe for judgment” as soon as it was submitted to the judge for a verdict. “In a trial by jury, a case is ripe for judgment until a verdict is rendered,” the ruling stated. In effect, this means that new information can technically be added to the case until the jury has returned its decision. As a result, the appeals court vacated more than $15 million of the original verdict, the amount determined to have been awarded for future damages.

Understanding Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case

The jury’s original verdict in this case accounted for more than a dozen separate considerations, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement and the loss of a normal life. The trial itself required expert witness testimony and the interpretation of complex medical procedures. It is easy to see how a medical malpractice case can quickly become complicated and leave victims and their families feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, we can help.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a medical mistake that caused illness or injury, contact an experienced Winnebago County medical malpractice attorney. We will help you explore your options and work with you in pursuing the compensation you deserve. Call 815-215-7561 for a free consultation at Mannarino & Brasfield today.  





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