Medical Malpractice can be confusing and difficult to actually prosecute. In any Medical Malpractice case, you need to prove the negligence or fault of the medical professional, and you also have to prove that their negligence or fault resulted in injuries on your end. Anyone making these claims are often treated by several medical professionals and perhaps have even undergone several different procedures, so it can be difficult to determine exact fault in certain cases.
There is a time limit to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, so it’s important to understand and acknowledge Indiana’s Statute of Limitations regarding medical malpractice claims. Indiana specifically gives a two-year time limit to file any claims, and that two-year time limit starts when the medical injury starts – immediately following the procedure that caused it, or if the symptoms aren’t apparent right away, the date that the symptoms started. The implication of this is you cannot wait. The day you notice symptoms should be the day you contact a legal professional or begin the filing process. If the patient suffering injury is less than 6 years old the time limit is extended, and parents/guardians have until the child turns eight years old to file a claim.
In addition, there are certain steps to take before filing a claim and certain pre-suit requirements that could affect the statute of limitations. Failure to follow the proper steps could result in your case being barred, so it’s important to make sure you are doing what’s necessary for your specific lawsuit. Any suit requesting damages of less than $15,000 does not carry any pre-suit requirements, and the first action taken can be filing the initial complaint with the courts. If the plaintiff is suing for damages exceeding $15,000, the complaint must first be submitted to the Indiana Department of Insurance and considered by a medical malpractice review panel. After submitting your complaint, the statute of limitations timeline is essentially frozen, and starts again after receiving the opinion from the review panel, with a 90-day extension. For example, if the plaintiff files a complaint with 1 year left in the statute of limitations, that plaintiff will have 1 year and 9 months left to sue after receiving the panel’s opinion. After receiving the panel’s report, the plaintiff can then decide if they want to proceed in court. The panel’s report is admissible (though not conclusive), and the panel’s members can be called on as experts in court.
The amount you can recover from damages is limited to $1.25 million. Caps do not exist in all states, and the reasoning behind implementing caps relates to the state’s cost of insurance & the Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF). Health care providers are responsible for the first $250,000, and PCF is responsible for any excess of that amount, not to exceed $1 million. Indiana’s use of the PCF provides a guaranteed source of compensation for injured parties – without this, plaintiff’s looking to recover large settlements may not see their payout if the doctor doesn’t carry adequate assets or insurance.
There are many factors to consider if you feel you are experiencing an injury due to the medical negligence of your healthcare provider. Contact Riley, Williams, & Piatt for a free consultation to learn more about your potential medical malpractice case.