Medical Malpractice vs. Negligence in Naperville: Key Differences Explained

When someone is hurt or harmed because of a healthcare professional’s actions or lack of action, it’s important to understand what happened and why. In Naperville, the terms “medical malpractice” and “negligence” are often used to describe these situations, but they don’t mean the same thing.

This article breaks down the key differences between medical malpractice and negligence in a straightforward way, helping you understand the legal landscape if you ever find yourself in such a situation.

We’ll explain what each term means, how they’re applied in legal settings, and what you need to know if you think you’ve been affected by either.

Defining Medical Malpractice

What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is professional negligence committed by a healthcare provider like a doctor, nurse, or dentist. It involves failing to provide proper medical care and treatment according to accepted standards, resulting in injury, harm or death to a patient.

Elements Required to Prove Medical Malpractice

In order to successfully prove medical malpractice in court, several legal elements must be established:

  • Doctor-patient relationship – There must be a direct relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient. The provider owes a legal duty to care for the patient’s health.
  • Breach of standard of care – The provider failed to provide medical treatment and care that meets the accepted standards in the medical community. This is often proven by expert testimony.
  • Injury caused by negligence – The breach of duty directly caused physical, emotional or financial harm to the patient. There must be a link between the substandard care and the injury.
  • Damages – The patient suffered losses that can be quantified, such as additional medical costs, lost income, disability or pain and suffering. Damages are the amount of money awarded in a malpractice lawsuit.

Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims

Some of the most frequent medical malpractice claims in Naperville are:

  • Surgical errors like operating on the wrong body part or leaving surgical instruments inside the patient after surgery. This causes severe injury or infection.
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a serious condition like cancer or heart disease. This leads to the disease progressing untreated.
  • Childbirth injuries to the baby during labor or delivery such as brain damage, cerebral palsy or nerve injury. These cause lifelong disabilities.
  • Medication errors like prescribing the wrong drug or dosage leading to illness or death.
  • Anesthesia errors during surgery leading to brain damage or death.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Illinois

Under Illinois law, patients have 2 years from the date of the negligent act or omission to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, the statute of limitations is extended for minors until they turn 18. The discovery rule also extends the timeline in cases where the injury was not immediately evident.

Understanding Negligence

What is Negligence?

Negligence is broader than medical malpractice and can occur outside of professional medical treatment. It involves failing to act with reasonable care and causing harm as a result.

Elements Required to Prove Negligence

To successfully prove negligence in court, the following elements must be established:

  • Duty of care – The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to act reasonably and not put them at risk of harm.
  • Breach of duty – The defendant failed to act with reasonable care and did something a reasonable person would not do.
  • Causation – The breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries or losses.
  • Damages – The plaintiff suffered quantifiable harm like medical bills, lost income or property damage.

Examples of Negligence Claims Against Medical Providers

Some examples of negligence claims against healthcare providers that fall outside medical malpractice include:

  • Slip and fall accidents due to wet floors or tripping hazards at a medical facility. This can cause injuries like broken bones, head trauma or back injuries.
  • HIPAA privacy breaches where a provider improperly shares or loses confidential patient health records. This causes harm to privacy rights.
  • Poor facility maintenance like failure to fix hazards that lead to injuries by patients or visitors.
  • Lack of adequate security protections resulting in assaults, thefts or other crimes against patients.

Negligence Statute of Limitations in Illinois

Like medical malpractice, negligence claims in Illinois must be filed within 2 years from the date of injury or accident. The same exceptions for minors and discovery rules apply.

Key Differences Between Medical Malpractice and Negligence

Medical Malpractice Negligence
Definition Professional negligence by a healthcare provider in providing medical treatment and care Failure to act with reasonable care in any situation causing harm
Standard of Care Failure to meet accepted medical standards in the professional community Failure to act in a reasonably prudent manner
Relationship Required Doctor-patient or other direct treatment relationship No prior relationship required
Type of Harm Bodily injury, illness, death Bodily injury, property damage, financial harm


Medical costs, lost income, disability, pain and suffering Medical costs, property losses, lost income, pain and suffering
Time Limits to File Claim 2 years from date of injury/negligence in Illinois 2 years from date of injury/accident in Illinois


While medical malpractice and negligence share some similarities, medical malpractice involves professional substandard treatment while negligence encompasses broader failures to act reasonably that cause harm. The key is proving whether the standard of care for medical professionals was breached versus the general reasonable person standard for negligence.

Seeking Justice After Medical Negligence in Naperville?

If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice or negligence in Naperville, the dedicated injury attorneys at Chute, O’Malley, Knobloch & Turcy, LLC are here to help. We have decades of experience representing victims and families in medical negligence cases, and understand the complexities involved.

Don’t delay in seeking justice. Contact us today for a free consultation. Our compassionate attorneys will evaluate your case and help determine the best legal options. Count on our dedicated team to stand by your side and fight for the outcome you deserve.