This article is an introduction to the basics of medical malpractice law in Indiana. The laws of medical malpractice are very complex, but some basic information can make it easier to understand the rights and obligations involved in any malpractice suit.
Indiana Medical Malpractice at a Glance
Indiana State Tort Law
Statute of Limitations Two years from date of medical injury. Damage Award Limits $1,250,000 total, Liability limited to $250,000 per care provider liable. Joint Defendant Liability There is no separation of liability Expert Witness Findings and testimony of medical panel qualify as expert witness.
Attorney Fees Attorneys fees may not exceed 15% of patient compensation between $250,000 and $1,250,000
Introduction to Statute of Limitations
With a single exception, any medical malpractice suit must be brought within two years of the occurrence of the injury. For minors under the age of six this limitation is extended until the 8th birthday. The exception to this limitation is that in cases of a medical condition with a long latency period, the suit must be brought within two years of the discovery of the condition, or within two years of when the plaintiff had the information required to discover the condition, whether or not this information was pursued.
The Medical Malpractice Act
There are two separate sets of rules covering medical malpractice law in Indiana. The Medical Malpractice Act covers the majority of malpractice actions. The Medical Malpractice Act covers participants in the state-sponsored excess insurance program. It is important, in discussing any medical malpractice in Indiana, to distinguish between medical providers covered by the Medical Malpractice Act and those who are not.
All medical malpractice suits that are covered by the Medical Malpractice Act and involve claims for more then $15,000 must be brought before a medical review board. The opinions of the board are admissible as expert opinions in any further legal action, but are not conclusive.
Guide to Comparative Negligence
Proof that the negligence of the injured party contributed to the injury in any way is sufficient to bar any suit from being brought under the Medical Malpractice Act. Otherwise, the Comparative Fault Act allows a suit to be brought is the plaintiffs fault does not exceed 50% of the total fault. The Comparative Fault Act does not apply to practitioners covered under the Medical Malpractice Act, or in claims against government entities of public employees.
Requirement of Expert Testimony
Expert testimony is normally, but not always required in any case of medical malpractice law in Indiana. It is not required in cases where the issue is one that a non-medical professional can be expected to understand. If the case falls under the Medical Malpractice Act, then the opinions of the members of the review panel may be submitted as expert testimony, in which case the plaintiff may not need to retain an expert for trial. This article presents a basic understanding of medical malpractice law in Indiana. For anyone contemplating entering into a medical malpractice action, a great deal of further information would be required.