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Do you know how medical malpractice awards are handled in Indiana? You might think that medical malpractice awards can be unlimited and that the doctor and their insurance company pay the claim. But in fact, neither of those things is true: Claim amounts have an absolute cap, and physicians and their insurers only pay part of each claim.
These limitations have been in place for several decades and were intended to create a fair system that protects both healthcare practitioners as well as patients and their families. Most of those who understand the system feel that it works—most of the time. However, some argue that there have been situations where those who need the most help have been let down by the system.
In 1975, Indiana imposed a cap on medical malpractice awards. It was the first state to do so, and 34 other states have followed. The idea behind the cap was that the best interests of everyone would be served: Doctors knew they would not be ruined by excessive malpractice awards, and at the same time, patients knew that they would be guaranteed compensation for successful claims because the State would step in.
Funded by a fee on malpractice insurance, the Indiana created the Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF), a new mechanism to cover the expense of large claims. The PCF is funded by a surcharge on insurance paid by physicians and hospitals.
Before 2017, the maximum medical malpractice award was $1.25 million. In 2017, that cap rose to $1.65 million. Now, as of 2019, the medical malpractice damage cap in Indiana is $1.8 million.
As part of this cap, doctors only have to pay a maximum of $500,000 per claim; anything higher than that portion will be covered by the PCF. Additionally, attorney fees are capped at 32% of the final award.
Not everyone is happy with the current system. Some have argued against it because the damage amounts are too small to cover the actual costs of care related to patient injuries. The difference in costs and payments can be critically important to victims.
Even though Indiana’s cap has been in place for decades, there is precedent: Similar cap laws in Illinois and other states have been ruled unconstitutional and overturned.
Navigating any medical malpractice claim can be a complex process, and difficult to successfully move forward without help. When you are injured during treatment or because treatment was denied or delayed, it is important to discuss your situation with a law firm you can trust.
Contact the Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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