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Time limits to bring a medical malpractice suit in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a patient or a patient's family member can file a lawsuit against a doctor or health care facility for medical malpractice if the doctor or provider causes death or injury to the patient as a result of malpractice. To recover damages, however, there are certain conditions that need to be fulfilled in court.

First, the patient or the family members have to prove that the defendant owed the patient a duty of care. Second, the patient must establish the standard of care applicable to that person's particular medical condition and prove that the standard was violated by the doctor or the health care provider. Third, the patient or the family members need to establish in court that the injury or the death of the patient is due to the failure to meet the standard of care. Finally, the patient or family must prove that the malpractice resulted in damages.

This is the normal procedure for a medical malpractice lawsuit in Illinois. However, like most other tort laws, medical malpractice, or medical liability, is subject to its own statute of limitations.

Under Illinois law a patient or the patient's family must file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of discovery of the malpractice, and within four years of the occurrence of the act in question. In the case of minors, a lawsuit can be filed up to eight years after discovery but not after that person has reached the age of 22 years.

If a doctor or health care provider fraudulently conceals a negligent act that caused injury or death, the patient or the patient's family can bring a lawsuit against the liable party within five years after discovering that the doctor's or health care provider's negligence caused the injury or death. However, after five years, the patient, or the patient's family, will no longer be allowed to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice.

Source: NSCL.org, "Medical Liability/Malpractice Statutes of Limitation," accessed on Sept. 17, 2014

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