In 1975, Indiana was the first state to pass a new medical malpractice law which “reformed” the system in Indiana.  At the time, Indiana’s Governor, “Doc” Bowen, believed it would renovate medical malpractice and encourage doctors to come to Indiana to practice.  A few other states have followed the Indiana model, but the system was found unconstitutional in many of those states.

Healthcare providers can choose to be covered by the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act by becoming a “qualified healthcare provider.”  All that is required to be a “qualified provider” is the purchase of a particular insurance policy and payment of a surcharge to the Patients Compensation Fund.  As of July 1, 2019, the policy must be in the amount of $500,000.00.  The surcharge, which varies by specialty and provider, helps to fund an additional $1,300,000.00 in coverage.  If a provider is a qualified provider, a patient’s recovery is capped at $1,800,000.00 – no matter the amount of the damages.  If a provider chooses not to purchase the minimum insurance, there is no cap on damages and the other protections of the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act do not apply.

To recover for medical malpractice in Indiana, a patient must show that a medical provider violated his/her standard of care to the patient and that violation caused harm to the patient.  Generally, the lawsuit must be brought within two (2) years of the date of the malpractice with very limited exceptions.  Unlike other types of lawsuits, a patient cannot immediately file a lawsuit against the healthcare provider.  Instead, the patient must file a claim with the Indiana Department of Insurance alleging malpractice. Following the filing of this claim, a medical review panel of three (3) doctors is then selected to review the claim.  Both the patient and the healthcare provider(s) submit evidence to the panel, who then review the claim and issue an opinion.  This, however, is not the end of the claim.

Once a review panel opinion is issued, regardless of the decision of the panel, the patient can then file a claim in a state court.  If the medical review panel found no malpractice, a patient must submit an expert opinion from a similar provider, stating that the expert disagrees with the panel opinion and that he/she believes that the healthcare providers conduct was below the standard of care.  Once that occurs, the case can continue in state court.

Medical malpractice cases are highly specialized and, unlike many other court cases, require specific, expert opinions.  If you believe you have been harmed by medical malpractice, you should contact an attorney who specializes in this area of law to help you navigate this complex process.


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