Injured By An Indiana Physician? What Should You Know About Recent Changes To State Malpractice Laws?

If you've recently undergone a serious medical procedure and aren't recovering as quickly as you'd hoped, you may be alarmed to learn that your delayed recovery isn't through any fault of your own body but a slip-up during surgery or even a mistake in the amount of medication prescribed after surgery. Ordinarily, the proper remedy for those injured by physician negligence is a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, your ability to collect the full spectrum of potential available damages may be altered after the passage of a 2015 law raising the cap on medical malpractice judgments in Indiana. Read on to learn more about the change to Indiana's malpractice law, as well as what you should do if you suspect you have a viable claim of malpractice against your physician or hospital.

What changes were recently made to Indiana's medical malpractice laws?

Like many states, Indiana's legislature has placed a dollar cap on the amount of monetary damages that may be recovered by a plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit. These caps are designed to limit the potential liability of doctors, hospitals, and their insurers and make the state a friendlier place in which these professions and entities can do business. Until recently, Indiana's cap on malpractice lawsuits was $1.25 million -- this means that even if you were injured or made ill by a doctor's negligence and incurred more than $1.25 million in medical expenses, lost wages, or other costs, you'll be unable to collect any amount over $1.25 million from the responsible doctor or his or her malpractice insurer. 

A recent change to this cap (the first in eighteen years) raised the dollar limit from $1.25 to $1.65 million. While this may seem like a positive change, when adjusted for inflation, the true dollar amount of the cap is much lower than it was when first enacted in the 1990s. Physicians themselves are required to pay no more than $250,000 per malpractice claim (for a maximum of $750,000 in malpractice payments per year), while any excess funds awarded to plaintiffs and their families must come from a public compensation fund. 

What are your options if you're a victim of medical malpractice in Indiana? 

If you suspect you've been the victim of medical malpractice, you'll want to consult an attorney. Although you have the right to represent yourself in court, malpractice law and procedures can be complicated, and an attorney should be able to help walk you through the process and ensure you're fully aware of your rights and options at each step. For example, the statute of limitations on a medical malpractice lawsuit in Indiana is two years, which means that your case can be dismissed if more than two years have passed between the onset of your malpractice-related injury and the filing of your malpractice lawsuit. Seeking legal help can prevent you from missing any important deadlines or other time tables that may affect your legal rights. Many malpractice attorneys also work on a contingency fee basis, ensuring that you'll never receive (or owe) a bill until after your claim has settled satisfactorily. 

You'll also want to keep careful track of any expenses related to your malpractice claim -- from additional co-pays or treatment costs to unpaid time off work or even cab fare to and from your doctor's office. Because of Indiana's cap on malpractice awards, it's even more important to make sure every expense is accounted for and you're able to receive all the funds to which you're entitled. Having clear and tangible proof of the costs you've incurred can help your case be processed more quickly and efficiently.