Indiana Medical Malpractice Laws
Each state has their own set of medical malpractice laws in place, and it is important for patients to understand those laws and how they could affect their case. The following are the basics of the laws in Indiana.
Medical Malpractice Indiana
The laws regarding Indiana medical malpractice are very specific and technical on what is considered malpractice and what is not. If someone wants to file a medical malpractice case for themselves or a loved one, the person filing it needs to make sure they understand the laws. For those seeking assistance to understand the nuances of the laws, a medical malpractice attorney is the best option. They can explain what the statute of limitations is for each type of injury, what types of evidence are required, and what the court process is like in most instances. Furthermore, they can also guide the process to ensure that the maximum possible compensation is achieved should the perpetrator be found guilty.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
When a medical mistake happens in the state of Indiana, it can lead to lifelong problems for the injured person.It may also be incredibly difficult to prove since medical professionals do not like to admit they made a mistake. Any injury could lead to a malpractice case. An operation on the wrong body part, leaving materials behind during surgery, taking the wrong medications, or even a dentist extracting the wrong tooth are examples of what malpractice sometimes looks like. There are specific things anyone filing a claim should be able to prove in court if they want to take action after malpractice. The injured person needs to prove that someone gave them a lower standard of care than they should have had. Additionally, they also need to prove that another doctor or healthcare provider would have done better under the same circumstances.
This is where cases of medical malpractice tend to struggle. For proof, there must be people willing to testify about the situation. It must include witnesses who were there when the injury took place and saw the circumstances at the time. There needs to be one expert witness saying what should have been done instead under the circumstances that the injured person was in, and this expert also needs to be able to explain to the panel, the judge, or the jury how this case should have come out. Not all doctors would treat each situation the same, so the right witness needs to be called to the stand. All of this typically starts in front of a medical review panel to have professionals determine what could or should have been done, assuming the damages sought are minimal.
What Is the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act and How Does It Affect Victims?
The Medical Malpractice Act, signed into law back in 1975 by a physician, gives people very limited options when they want to file a claim of malpractice. First, the case goes in front of three medical panel members. This panel is made up of three doctors that are often colleagues of the provider in question. They must believe by looking at the evidence that there is a case that should go to trial based on that evidence pointing to some neglectful care or missed diagnosis. If the members do not see sufficient evidence that the case qualifies as medical malpractice, the case becomes much more difficult to pursue. It still can go to court, but the findings of the panel are going to show up during the trial.
Second, the act goes further by only allowing victims of malpractice to file suit within two years of when the injury took place. There is no credence as to when the victim actually discovers their injury was malpractice. Indiana law says the statute of limitations on this is steadfast with very few exceptions. The only current exception is for minors who were younger than six when their injury took place. They have until their eighth birthday to file any claim if they are going to. Once that birthday passes, no more claims can be filed for that specific injury.
Finally, this act puts a financial cap in place of $1.8 million, no matter what costs have already been incurred by the injured person or may be incurred in the future. If the victim is already out more money than the cap, they will still not get a penny more. The medical staff is responsible for anything beyond $1 million in awards, should the staff lose in court or choose to settle.
Who Can Face a Medical Malpractice Claim in Indiana?
In some states, laws are limiting who can face a malpractice lawsuit. However, in Indiana, any health care professional has the potential of facing a malpractice case. It could be a dentist who used the wrong numbing agent or a doctor who prescribed the wrong medication. The type of professional does not matter. It is what they did that is brought in front of the panel and subsequent judge and jury that matters. Surgical errors, birth injuries, and missed diagnoses are also types of medical malpractice that can come before a panel or a judge in Indiana. The same can be said for wrongful death cases brought forth by the deceased’s loved ones. Each of them has different medical professionals at fault. Plus, the facility the injury took place at can also be included in the claim.
Others can also be included in medical malpractice grievances. If the injury was due to a defective product, then the company that manufactured the product should be included in the lawsuit. The same goes if any part of the injury stemmed from medication that has overly problematic side effects. If someone was injured due to those effects and no one made the injured person aware of the effects before taking the medication, then the company that created that medication can also be included in the claim. Ideally, most claims for malpractice include as many people who could have stopped the problem before it caused an injury as possible. That gives each injured person the best chances of a larger payout.
Types of Evidence Needed During a Medical Malpractice Case
There are many pieces of evidence that the injured person needs to gather before filing a medical malpractice case. First, medical records need to be gathered from both before and after the incident. This allows for the medical panel to compare the circumstances before the injury and after. The injured person should also bring along any evidence that proves medical negligence. This means that the patient was not given the right type of care or was neglected the care that they needed, which resulted in the personal injury they are now facing.
On top of these pieces of evidence, the injured person also needs to provide proof of the medical care that is now required. This should include any medications the injured person is required to take, subsequent surgeries or procedures the injured person has had to undergo, the therapy that is now required, or anything along those lines. This should also include evidence of how life has changed for the injured party since experiencing medical malpractice first-hand.
How Does a Medical Malpractice Claim Get Paid Out?
In the state of Indiana, if a health care professional chooses to settle with the injured person , they will tell the patient’s compensation fund what to pay after his or her specific portion, and to whom the payment should be made. This is considered an admission of guilt and the injured person then walks away with the settlement. It also means that the injured person is no longer able to file another claim for that injury. However, most medical professionals do not opt to go this route. Most of them understand the complexity of the medical malpractice laws and want to try to make their way through court. This can be tricky for most patients, but doctors and similar professionals tend to pay smaller amounts of damages when they take their chances with the court system.
The compensation fund is where the money for settlements and court judgments gets released from. The professional who caused the injury is responsible for a portion of the cost, while the compensation fund picks up the difference, up to a total of $1 million. In many instances, this is where injured people would receive their check to help cover the expenses for their injuries once the case is settled or the judge or jury awards damages.
Why Have Indiana Medical Malpractice Lawyers Helped With the Case?
It is never a good idea to pursue Indiana medical malpractice cases alone. Anyone facing malpractice should always have a medical malpractice lawyer with them so that they know the right steps to take. For example, if the injured person was to file a malpractice claim in court when it should have been filed with the medical panel, the case could stall out before it goes anywhere because the injured person filed improperly. The time still runs if the case gets filed wrong, but it goes on pause if it gets filed with the right office. This is something an Indiana medical malpractice attorney would know and be able to help with.
When a malpractice suit is filed, it can freeze time limits put in place for the injured person, allowing the injured person extra time to decide what to do. Plus, it can also change how much time they have, depending on how the panel finds the case or if the panel recommends that the case be started over again. These are all things that an Indiana medical malpractice attorney can help explain.
A medical malpractice lawsuit is also a very complicated case. Even those with above-average intelligence and some formal training often struggle to represent themselves in court with these circumstances due to how the laws in Indiana are set up. The laws were written in a way to help doctors not have to struggle to pay the Indiana Department of Insurance huge malpractice fees due to a mistake. That is also why Indiana does not require any doctor to carry malpractice insurance. It is an option that most hospitals choose, but not all private practices do. It is much easier for the injured person to focus on recovery and allow the medical malpractice lawyer to stay focused on the case.
Should the Injured Opt for a Law Firm or Individual Malpractice Lawyer?
There are benefits to having a firm’s representation in court, but there are also benefits to having an individual attorney. The choice is mostly up to the person who suffered the injury. Firms often have more people who can help with a case, allowing it to move forward more quickly than with an individual attorney. However, the court could stall the case from simply being busy, so that may be a moot point. What matters most is the experience of the person standing before the judge.
People who have suffered from medical malpractice want someone who will stand up for their rights. If an attorney can go toe-to-toe with the lawyer representing the health care provider, this is a good start. They also need to be able to prove the injuries were caused by something that the provider did or neglected to do that obviously should have been done. The lawyer should be tenacious and ready to uphold the rights of the people they represent. Since the laws governing medical malpractice are so overly technical, someone with experience is always highly suggested.
Medical malpractice is something that everyone wants to avoid. It results in someone injured or dead, and they want and deserve compensation for this alteration of their life. Doctors do not typically go around making poor judgment calls, but sometimes they do happen. That is why there are so many medical malpractice actions that an injured person has the option to take. When someone is injured due to any type of malpractice, there is help out there. Seeking the assistance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney is going to be the best bet for anyone who wants compensation for the injuries they suffered.