Indiana was one of the first states to enact the malpractice law in 1975. It was also the first one to establish the Indiana patient’s compensation fund. This compensation fund protects qualified physicians by putting a cap on what they need to shoulder for damages. It has also done a lot in terms of bringing down insurance fees.
Who is covered
Physicians who have at least minimal malpractice insurance coverage. If they do not have this, they will not be covered by the Indiana patient’s compensation fund. Should the malpractice case prove to be true, the compensation fund caps the physician’s liability to $250,000. The rest, as long as it does not exceed $1M, will be shouldered by the Indiana patient’s compensation fund. All this will be of course after the coverage of the physician has been applied.
Patients who can make claims for malpractice include those who are aged 6 years and up as long as the complaint or claim has been made two years after the alleged malpractice. This means that if the child was 6 years old when the malpractice happened, they can file for a case before the child’s 8th birthday. Of course, some exemptions are applied if the injuries were discovered later but it was obviously caused by the alleged malpractice without reasonable doubt.
How to file
Patients cannot file for malpractice lawsuits directly at the court. They will have to go through the Indiana Department of Insurance. Here, the case will be examined first by a panel of physicians. If there is only one defendant to worry about, at least two out of three panelists need to be in the same specialization as the defendant. Multiple defendants would need all three panelists to be from the same specialization. If there is more than one specialization, a 1:1 representation is necessary. Ensuring that there is enough representation of the specialization makes the report of the panelists admissible to court. It is, however, not yet conclusive. This will be decided in court by the judge, but the advice or report of the experts speeds up the process and makes the decision more sound.
How much can the plaintiff charge
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The plaintiffs cannot charge more than 15% of the damages made to any patient. This protects the patient as well, making sure that they are well-compensated for the damage done to them. The cap applied to physicians might seem a bit stringent on patients who are filing for damages. However, the $1M government subsidy is also an assurance that they will be paid off for everything they have suffered. It’s easier to make claims from the state than an independent, private insurance company, or the defendant him/herself.
The process of assessing whether or not a malpractice lawsuit needs to go to court can take as long as 6 months. If there is reasonable doubt that the malpractice was done, the physician comes out unscathed. No court time means no public record as well. The best thing to do is to settle matters before the case goes to court. Court malpractice cases can be scarring for any physician and it can destroy the trust of your patients if it was proven right.
If you need more information about the Indiana patient’s compensation fund and need help for a family member or friend who’s a victim of medical malpractice, contact us today at Montross Miller.