Frequently Asked Questions - Springfield

Q: How does an individual become a defendant in a medical malpractice action?

A medical malpractice action is begun with the filing of a complaint that names an individual as a defendant. The clerk of the court will then issue summons on the defendant upon plaintiff's request.

Q: What is the difference if I am named as a Respondent in Discovery?

A Respondent in Discovery is not a defendant or party to the lawsuit but instead is an individual that the plaintiff believes to have information essential to the determination of who should be properly named as additional defendants. A person named as a Respondent in Discovery is required to respond to discovery requests by the plaintiff in the same manner as a defendant. Accordingly, you may be required to respond to interrogatories and/or present for a deposition. On motion of the plaintiff, a respondent in discovery may be added as a defendant if the evidence indicates probable cause for such action. This can occur at any time within 6 months of being named a respondent in discovery even if the time during which an action may be brought against him may have expired during that 6month period.

Q: What should I do if I am served with a summons?

If you are the person named in the complaint, whether as a defendant or as a respondent in discovery, accept service and immediately contact the SIU Office of General Counsel.

Q: Who is authorized to serve process?

Typically, a sheriff performs service of process. However, in a county where the population is less than one million, the sheriff may employ civilian personnel to serve process. The person authorized to serve summons upon a defendant may do so wherever the individual may be found in the State.

Q: How is service made on an individual?

Unless otherwise provided by law, service upon an individual defendant must be made by leaving a copy of the summons with the individual, personal service, or by leaving a copy of the summons at the defendant's home with a family member or person who resides there. The person must be 13 years or older and must be informed of the contents of the summons. In addition to leaving the summons, the process server must also send a copy of the summons in a sealed envelope with postage addressed to the defendant at his home.

Q: How is service of process made on a public or governmental corporation or entity?

In actions against a public entity or governmental agency, summons may be served by leaving a copy of the summons with the chairperson of the county board or with the president of the board of trustees.

Q: How long can I expect before the matter makes it to trial?

Your length of involvement depends on many factors because each case is different and varies greatly. Typically, it may take as long as 2 to 3 years from the time that an individual is named as a defendant until the time that there is resolution at a trial.

Q. Where can I find basic information regarding University policies for the Board of Trustees?

The policies related to the Board of Trustees are located at

Q. Where can I find policies and procedures governing the business activities at each of the three locations - Carbondale, Edwardsville, and Springfield?

Policies and procedures related to each location can be found by accessing the main University website at and selecting the particular location.

Q. What is the legal status of the University?

The University is a body politic and corporate of the State of Illinois. The University is a tax-exempt institution. The governing body of the university is the Board of Trustees.

Q. What is the formal legal name of the University?

Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University

Q. What is the process for getting a contract approved?

All contracts except subcontracts, except grant subcontracts, should be forwarded to the Purchasing office prior to review by Legal Counsel. The legal office will review the contract for legal issues.

Q. When does the School of Medicine's General Counsel's Office need to review a contract?

The General Counsel's Office needs to review all Purchasing Office contracts for amounts over $5,000.00. All professional services contracts, no matter the dollar amount, must be reviewed by the General Counsel's Office. All research contracts with outside sponsors or entities, including confidentiality agreements, need to be reviewed by the General Counsel's Office.

Q. What is the legal status of SIU Physician's and Surgeon's, Inc?

SIU P&S is a 501c(3) not-for-profit corporation and a University-Related Organization. SIU P&S is a separately incorporated entity and is governed by its own Board of Directors.

Q. If I have been asked by a private company to provide consulting services, do I need a University contract?

It depends. If you are providing consulting services in your capacity as a faculty member and it would be a part of your School of Medicine job description, then the School of Medicine would require the contract to be in the name of the University, be signed by the appropriate University officials, and be approved by the General Counsel's office. If you are providing services outside of your capacity as a faculty member, the contract does not need to be in the name of the University. However, any services provided outside the scope of a faculty appointment must be done on vacation time. You must file a tax return on the income, and no University insurance coverage would be extended, including malpractice while you are providing those services.

Q. What is HIPAA?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 is a federal law that protects patient health information. It applies to individuals or entities that transmit health information in electronic form and protects health information that individually identifies a patient, such as a patient chart or medical billing record.

Q. What is a Business Associate under HIPAA and when do I need a Business Associate Agreement?

A Business Associate is a person or entity who is not a member of the workforce and provides a service, for or on behalf of a covered entity, that is a function or activity regulated by HIPAA and involves the use or disclosure of protected health information. If a person or entity is a Business Associate, a Business Associate Agreement must be signed by the parties. For more information regarding Business Associates, click on the following:

Q. If a medical student is doing a clerkship at a hospital not in Springfield or Carbondale, does the hospital need a Business Associate Agreement with the School of Medicine for that student to train at that hospital?

No. A medical student, as a trainee, should be considered a part of the hospital workforce and not a business associate. The hospital can require the student to complete its own HIPAA training. If not, the School of Medicine will provide certification that the student has completed HIPAA training at the School of Medicine.

Q. Does the University have liability insurance? What does it cover?

Liability insurance provides legal defense from and/or payment to third parties who may have been damaged because of the negligence of the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University or its officers, employees, agents and in some cases, volunteers.

Effective July 1, 1985, the Board of Trustees established a self-insurance program to cover liability resulting from the conduct of University business or arising out of the performance or delivery of its programs or services. Additional program information including terms of coverage can be found at Coverage details are subject to change without notice. For further information, please contact University Risk Management at (618) 536-2101 or (618) 650-5439.

Q. Does the University have auto liability insurance? What does it cover?

Southern Illinois University is afforded blanket motor vehicle liability coverage under the State of Illinois Self-Insured Motor Vehicle Liability Plan. The Plan covers state employees operating state owned or leased vehicles in the course of employment. Please consult with University Risk Management regarding this coverage. SIUC's Auto Liability Coordinator is Mike Reed. Accidents involving University vehicles must be reported to your auto liability coordinator immediately.

Q. Does the University provide any insurance when I use my personal car on University business?

There are three types of insurance that may apply in the event you are involved in an accident using your personal vehicle on University business.

Liability - Southern Illinois University is afforded blanket motor vehicle coverage under the State of Illinois Self-Insured Motor Vehicle Liability Plan. This coverage provides only excess liability coverage on personal vehicles used on University business. In the event you are considered liable for such an accident, your personal automobile insurance would pay first: the State's coverage would become involved only when your policy limits are exhausted.

Collision and Comprehensive - The University does not provide physical damage insurance if your personal vehicle is damaged while on University business. You are responsible for insurance on your personal vehicle. The University's mileage reimbursement rate factors in insurance premiums and deductibles as part of the cost of operating a vehicle.

Worker's Compensation - Any medical costs or lost time you might incur while on University business would be subject to recovery provided through the State of Illinois Workers' Compensation Program. Call CareSys at 1-800-773-3221 to report the injury and initiate the claim.