In a recent case in front of a state appellate court, a woman filed a medical malpractice lawsuit after she was treated for a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome. The illness caused her extreme pain around her shoulder and in her arm and also caused her numbness, swelling, and weakness. As a result, she was treated by a doctor who performed a surgery to try to ease the pain by removing one of her ribs. However, the woman suffered severe symptoms after the surgery, including pain whenever she moved her arm and difficulty swallowing food. The woman then sued the doctor for malpractice.

Doctor's CoatThe defendant presented an expert who said that the doctor performed the surgery correctly and provided proper post-operative care. The expert also said that the woman’s symptoms after the surgery were a result of her original illness. To rebut this, the woman presented her own expert, who was a doctor in Mexico. The doctor had examined her about one year before she sought treatment from the defendant. Her expert stated that the defendant had destabilized the woman’s right sternoclavicular joint during the surgery or had disrupted the ligaments that hold it in place.

The defendant objected to the plaintiff’s expert witness, arguing that he was not familiar with the “standard of care” in the United States. The trial court agreed and dismissed the case. However, a court of appeals found that her expert witness, who was licensed to practice medicine in Mexico, was qualified to give an opinion in this case. Importantly, the defendant doctor did not suggest that the standard of care in Mexico was different from the standard of care in the United States. In addition, the Mexican doctor had performed over 500 orthopedic surgeries and around 10 to 12 thoracic outlet syndrome surgeries. He also personally examined the woman before and after her surgery. Thus, the court found that he was qualified to give his opinion, and the jurors were free to give it as much weight as they determined was appropriate.

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In a recent case decided by a state appellate court, a husband and wife were injured in a car accident with another motorist. After the accident, they filed suit against the motorist for their physical injuries, mental suffering, lost wages, and lost employment. However, the motorist failed to defend or respond to the lawsuit. As a result, after four months had passed, the couple filed an application for an entry of default against the motorist, and the clerk of the court entered a default judgment against him. Seven months after the complaint was filed, the motorist responded by filing a motion to set aside the default judgment. The court denied his motion to set aside the entry of default and entered a default judgment in favor of the couple for over $3 million.

Car CrashThe motorist appealed. He argued that the court abused its discretion by refusing to set aside the default judgment. That state’s supreme court found that since default judgments are considered under a liberal standard, the court did abuse its discretion by refusing to set aside the entry of default. It noted that the motorist had seemingly valid defenses to the claim. In addition, the couple would suffer limited prejudice by reopening the case because they filed the claim three years after the actual accident and were still litigating the case with two insurance companies. For these reasons, the default judgment was set aside, and the case was reopened.

Default Judgments and Illinois Rules

A default judgment is a ruling that results from one party’s failure to comply with the requirements of the court. A default judgment is binding on a party even if the person has never appeared in the case. That means that even if a defendant never appeared in court in a case against them, the other party can collect compensation. However, even if a default judgment has been entered against a party, they can file a motion to set aside the judgment and reopen the case.

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In a tragic case of medical malpractice recently decided by one state appellate court, a woman underwent a liposuction procedure at a medical spa and tragically died just a few days later from septic shock. The woman’s husband filed a medical malpractice claim against the company, alleging that the bacteria causing the shock came from the medical spa during his wife’s procedure. He claimed that certain equipment had not been properly disinfected and sterilized.

ScalpelThe case went to trial once, but it resulted in a mistrial based on the improper questioning of a witness in front of the jury. The case was retried, and the jury found in favor of the woman’s husband. The jury awarded him over $3 million in damages. The spa appealed the decision. It argued that there was not sufficient evidence for the jury to find in favor of the husband.

The court explained that it would not set aside the jury’s verdict as long as it was supported by substantial and competent evidence. It also would not second guess determinations of credibility and the weight of the evidence made by the jury. In this case, there was a medical expert who explained how the spa’s procedures for sterilizing and disinfecting the reusable medical equipment used in the procedure breached the standard of care for cosmetic surgeons. There also was evidence that the spa’s breach caused the woman’s death because septic shock occurs after an infection causes the body to go into shock, and she had bacteria present near where she was injected. Even though there was some evidence presented by the defense suggesting that the bacteria could have come from her post-procedure care, the jury’s decision was still reasonable and would not be second guessed. Accordingly, there was substantial evidence supporting the jury’s verdict, and the decision was affirmed.

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Many people are quick to blame parents for children’s injuries. Yet often, the parents are not to blame. Defective products such as toys, cribs, and baby carriers can cause children serious injuries.

StrollerIf a defective product is to blame, a parent can sue the manufacturer or anyone else in the chain of distribution, seeking compensation for their child’s injuries. If a product is defective, it generally is defective by its design or has a defect in how it was made when it was manufactured. For example, a defective design might exist when a product has an unreasonably dangerous design, such as a stroller that too easily tips over. A manufacturing design might exist when a piece was left out when it was built, thereby creating a danger. A product could also be defective because the safety warnings are inadequate to warn the consumer of a potential danger associated with the product.

New Study Shows Injury Risk Posed by Strollers and Baby Carriers

A new study shows that over 17,000 children are treated in emergency rooms every year for stroller and baby carrier-related injuries. According to one news source, the study, conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, looked at emergency room visits from 1990 to 2010. It found that over these years, almost 361,000 children had been treated for such injuries. This equates to about two children an hour, or around 50 children per day.

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In a recent case out of California, a man was injured in an accident with another car, driven by a paramedic supervisor. The paramedic was driving his employer’s truck on the way to the location of an injured victim when the accident occurred. The injured driver subsequently filed a negligence lawsuit against the paramedic. The state’s laws required that lawsuits against health care providers for “professional negligence” be filed within one year of the injury date. In this case, the man’s case was filed past the one-year filing date. As a result, the court found that the claim was time-barred.

HourglassHowever, a case from that state’s supreme court found that the time period applied only to negligence actions that resulted from services provided by virtue of being health care professionals—or in rendering medical care to patients. Thus, in this case, while the paramedic was a medical professional, the accident did not result from negligent medical care. The paramedic was required to drive the car with reasonable care because he was driving a car, not because he was providing health care to a patient because he was a paramedic. Thus, the decision was reversed, and the case was able to proceed.

Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitations in Illinois

Every individual who files a claim has to consider the relevant statute of limitations. The statute of limitations refers to the time during which a claim must be filed. The time varies for different claims and depending on where the claims are filed.

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In a recent case, a woman and her two children were injured in a car accident with another motorist. The woman filed a lawsuit against the other driver for their injuries. More than three years after the car accident, the woman amended her complaint to add a claim against her insurance company, since she believed that the other driver’s policy would not fully cover her damages.

ContractThe insurance company’s policy required claims to be filed within three years of the accident, so the insurance company argued that the claim was barred because it was filed after more than three years. The woman put the insurance company on notice about two years after the accident that she would likely pursue an underinsured motorist claim. Yet she did not file it until later, when she believed the other driver’s policy would be insufficient after pursuing the lawsuit against the driver.

In a recently released opinion, the state’s supreme court held that the claim was not barred. It explained that while the insurance company’s policy required lawsuits to be filed within three years, the insurance company also had a policy that it would only pay if the underinsured motorist’s insurance had been exhausted. Therefore, insured individuals were being told to file a lawsuit within three years, but at the same time they were being told not to file a lawsuit until other avenues were exhausted. The court explained that these two policies were in direct conflict with each other, and thus the policy was ambiguous. As a result, the court interpreted the terms in favor of the insured, allowing the case to continue against the insurance company.

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Settlements can be an effective and beneficial way for both parties to resolve a case without having to go through a trial. However, some settlements can be thrown out if they are not approved by a judge, causing the litigation process to continue.

TaxiPersonal Injury Settlements in Illinois

Although a plaintiff has the freedom to decide whether or not to file a claim, once a claim is filed in Illinois, the plaintiff does not always have the freedom to voluntarily dismiss a case. Some claims, such as class actions and claims by minors, may require court approval.

In Illinois, an approved settlement generally results in a voluntary dismissal of the case for the plaintiff. Generally, such a dismissal is taken “with prejudice,” which means that the claim cannot be brought again. In addition, the court that granted the dismissal generally retains jurisdiction of the case to enforce the terms of the settlement. Finally, it is important to note that if a claim is settled, normally it cannot later be challenged unless there was a mistake or fraud.

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In a recent case, a woman filed suit against a hospital and her doctor for battery after undergoing a medical procedure. She alleged that she had not given her informed consent for having an intrauterine device (IUD) implanted. About a year after she had the IUD implanted, she found out that her IUD had not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration because of the location to which the device had been shipped.

StethoscopeShe filed the complaint but failed to file a medical expert affidavit, as required by state laws. In this particular state, the law required that plaintiffs filing medical malpractice actions file an expert affidavit along with the complaint. However, the woman argued that her claim did not require her to file the expert affidavit because this was a battery claim rather than a medical malpractice claim. Ultimately, the state’s supreme court disagreed, holding that a battery claim against a medical provider based on a lack of informed consent also requires the filing of a medical expert affidavit.

The court held that even though the claim filed was a battery claim, it still had the same requirements of a general medical malpractice claim. Since cases involving the issue of informed consent generally consider the professional standard required in such cases, they are subject to the same requirements no matter which claim is alleged. There is a question of what the professional standard is in obtaining informed consent. As a result, a medical expert affidavit was required, stating that the expert supports the allegations in the claim.

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In a recent case, a woman had surgery done at a hospital and subsequently suffered a stroke. The woman filed a products liability claim against the manufacturer of one of the medical devices in the surgery. However, when the complaint was originally filed, it did not name the hospital or the doctor as defendants. It also did not state a claim for medical malpractice. Several months later, the woman requested to file an amended complaint to add the defendants and allege medical malpractice. She then filed the amended complaint almost four months after the original complaint.

HourglassThe hospital and the doctor then moved for summary judgment, alleging that the filings were untimely. In the jurisdiction where the case arose, a medical malpractice action must be filed within two years of the cause of action accruing. The original complaint was filed just one day before the two-year statute of limitations had run. Thus, by the time the woman amended the complaint, the new claim against the defendants was not timely. The court granted the defendants’ motions because the claims were filed against them after the statute of limitations had expired. The state supreme court agreed, resulting in the dismissal of the claim.

Amending a Complaint and Its Effect on the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the time period during which a plaintiff can bring a certain kind of claim. The period of time varies depending on the type of claim and the jurisdiction, or the place in which it is filed. Often, the time begins to run from the date of the injury, the date that an injury was discovered, or the date that it should have been discovered.

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In a recent case, a man’s decision to forego optional safety equipment later prevented compensation for his injuries. The man was riding his lawn mower when the mower fell off the edge of an embankment and rolled on top of him. He was trapped under the lawn mower, and tragically he died from suffocation. The man’s wife alleged that the lawn mower manufacturer was negligent because the machine did not come with a rollover protection system. However, the defendant pointed out that the man had the option of adding the rollover protection system when he bought the lawn mower, which he neglected to purchase.

SeatbeltA federal appeals court dismissed the plaintiff’s case, holding that, according to the optional equipment doctrine, a manufacturer generally will not be found negligent if a purchaser had the option of buying safety equipment that would have prevented the accident. The court explained that the doctrine may apply where a buyer is knowledgeable regarding the product’s use and the availability of the safety feature, there are normal circumstances in which the product without the optional equipment would not be unreasonably dangerous, and the buyer can balance the risks and benefits with regard to the buyer’s use of the product. Since the rollover protection system was an option when the man bought the lawn mower, the manufacturer could not be held negligent for failing to install the equipment.

The Optional Equipment Doctrine in Illinois

The optional equipment doctrine arises in the context of negligence in manufacturing. It is not exactly a defense, but instead it is a way a defendant can show that it fulfilled its duty to the purchaser. That is, the defendant, by informing buyers that an optional feature is available and can make the product safer for certain users, may have satisfied its duty to make a product safe.

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