Understanding joint and several liability laws in Illinois

Doctors, physicians and medical care personnel enjoy a position of trust and responsibility when it comes to questions of healthcare. However, there may be situations when a misdiagnosis or medical negligence may lead to bodily injury or even the death of a patient. The laws surrounding Chicago medical malpractice are therefore geared towards protecting the rights of patients and holding healthcare professionals responsible for any activity which may cause harm to the patient.

Illinois state laws subscribe to the theory of joint and several liabilities when it comes to adjudicating matters relating to medical malpractice. Joint and several liability can be viewed as a merging of two theories of establishing liability; usually, joint and several liability pertains to cases when more than one person or entity may be held liable for a certain act or acts which can amount to medical malpractice.

One of the many reasons that the laws in Illinois allow several and joint liability to be factored into medical malpractice cases is to enable the injured party to have a greater chance to recover damages owed to him or her under the law.

The laws in Illinois subscribe to the theory that pure joint and several liability can be combined with pure several liability. In this particular situation, the law allows for the risk of insolvency to be split between the plaintiff and the solvent defendants. If the jury holds that the defendant is at fault by a certain percentage, which is at or above a particular limit, the defendant is responsible for the entire amount that is awarded as damages. It is important to understand that that may be the potential outcome of an Illinois medical malpractice case.

Source: NCSL.org, “Medical liability/malpractice joint and several liability statutes,” accessed Sept. 25, 2014