Which state was the first to pass medical malpractice reform legislation in 1975?
Our state caps all medical malpractice damages at $1.25 million. Since 1975, the state cap has been raised twice. However, doctors and medical providers are only responsible for the first $250,000 of total damages. Anything in excess of $250,000—and no more than $1 million—is paid out by the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF). The PCF provides a source of guaranteed dollars for injured patients. The malpractice act also limits the amount of fees a plaintiff’s attorney can receive.
By law, Indiana physicians are not required to carry malpractice insurance. However, most employers and hospitals usually require it. For medical providers to be protected by the medical malpractice cap on damages, they must purchase insurance to cover the first $250,000 in damages and also pay into the PCF.
Initiating a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Indiana
To begin the process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must first file a proposed complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance. Once the complaint is filed, your case will be evaluated by a medical review panel. The medical review panel consists of three physicians—two of the three must be from the defendant’s specialty. The medical review panel will evaluate your case and render a positive or negative panel review opinion as to whether the medical provider acted or failed to act within the appropriate standard of care. If your case receives a positive panel opinion, there is a likelihood your case will have a successful outcome. However, if your case receives a negative panel review opinion, a lawsuit may be filed on your behalf and a qualified medical expert to contradict the panel must be presented to continue.
How Long Do you Have To Sue for Medical Malpractice?
Generally, victims of medical malpractice must file a proposed complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance within two (2) years from the alleged malpractice. If the injured patient is under the age of six (6) years old, you have until their eighth birthday to file. Exceptions to the general (2) year time limitation exist and are very fact specific.
Is a Cap on Damages a Good Thing?
Consider this example: A newborn child becomes the victim of medical malpractice and suffers a brain injury caused by a delayed cesarean section. Over the course of his or her lifetime, the child will require millions of dollars in medical treatment and care. The $1.25 million cap will only cover a small percentage of the overall amount required for a lifetime of care. In this instance, the medical malpractice cap is senseless. While the cap can provide all of the dollars needed for some, in other instances it comes nowhere close to covering the amount of treatment an injured patient will need during their lifetime.
Why Should I Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
Medical malpractice cases are difficult to pursue and can take several years from start to finish. A lawyer familiar and experienced with medical malpractice cases knows the laws and the arduous process. There are several steps that have to be taken in order to pursue a case and hopefully reach a successful outcome. Once a complaint is filed, it can take anywhere from 1-3 years to be reviewed by a medical review panel. A medical review panel will need evidence of negligence. Your lawyers will gather all of your medical charts and records, including x-rays and lab test results. As necessary, your lawyer may hire an expert to review your case and render an opinion as to whether negligence occurred.
How Many Steps are Involved in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Medical malpractice cases are difficult and time consuming due to the procedural processes required by the law.
A) You’re required to file a proposed complaint with the department of insurance;
B) Then your case gets reviewed by a medical review panel;
C) Depending on the outcome, you might then be required to file another complaint in State Court;
D) Then your case could possibly go to trial;
E) Finally, a petition for excess damages must be filed in Court against the Patient’s Compensation Fund to obtain damages in excess of the first $250,000 if your case would settle prior to trial.
A lawyer will be able to navigate through this entire process.
VIDEO: IS THERE A CAP ON MEDICAL MALPRACTICE DAMAGES IN INDIANA?
What We Recommend
We always recommend talking to an attorney. Most attorneys practicing in the medical malpractice arena offer a free consultation. During the case evaluation, the attorney will talk with you about your injuries and the potential negligence. You’ll want to provide as much information as possible. The attorney will then give his or her opinion as to whether you have a case worthy to pursue. Calling a medical malpractice attorney and talking with them about your case is often a valuable first step.