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Do the Illinois elderly have weaker medical malpractice claims?

When a loved one is taken ill, an Illinois resident entrusts doctors, nurses, hospitals or other healthcare providers with his or her safety and wellbeing. However, when negligence on part of the medical care provider leads to an aggravation of the illness, an injury or death, people are devastated. In efforts to find justice on behalf of the victim of medical malpractice, people often take legal action. Sadly, many of these claims are not properly grounded and, as a result, lawsuits are dismissed.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is more prevalent when a senior citizen is the victim of medical malpractice. That is because the advanced age of the individual is sometimes a more influential factor than the malpractice. The situation becomes even more difficult for a plaintiff if he or she is already suffering from an illness or is in poor health, because establishing malpractice in the presence of a degenerative illness or injury is extremely difficult.

Another challenge for those who pursue medical malpractice claims on behalf of a senior citizen is justification of the dollar amount, which is claimed as damages. This is because monetary compensation is awarded based on the loss of income and, in the case of seniors, income is often low or non-existent and they no longer have dependents. This, in turn, reduces the monetary worth of any claim.

However, there are situations in which a medical malpractice claim concerning an elderly victim can be more likely to meet with success. For example, incidents of obvious negligence such as misdiagnosis, prescribing wrong medicines or wrong-site surgery are often valid and worth pursuing. However, medical malpractice is a critical area of law and requires an in-depth understanding of personal injury and medical malpractice laws. In cases like this, an experienced attorney may be able to help.

Source: Chicago's Real Law Blog, "Elderly patients tend to have weaker Illinois medical malpractice cases," Michael Helfand, Jan. 19, 2015

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