Illinois Supreme Court Throws Out Caps on Medical Malpractice Awards

On Thursday, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned a five-year old ruling that limited the amount patients could receive from medical malpractice cases. Previously, the law allowed jury awards of up to $500,000 against doctors and $1 million against hospitals for non-economic damages (such as pain, suffering, loss of companionship, etc). In its 4-to-2 decision, the court stated the law was a violation of the states separation of powers because legislators were imposing decision that should be left up to judges and juries.

While lawyers, patients’ rights advocates and union groups celebrated the decision, medical associations and doctors say it will mark a return to increased malpractice rates and an exodus of medical professionals from the state of Illinois. Others argue that the blame for high insurance rates lies with the insurance companies themselves.

Currently, close to 30 states have laws limiting awards for non-economic damages. In states where those laws have been challenged, 16 states have upheld the laws while 11 have overturned them. Missouri happens to be one of the 30 states that limits awards on malpractice suits; earlier this month the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments by opponents of caps, though no ruling has been made.

The law firm of WWF&G has extensive experience handling medical malpractice cases. If you or someone you love has fallen victim to malpractice, please contact our firm at 1-800-WWFGLAW or 618-462-1077.