Finding out that a doctor or hospital is willing to settle your medical-malpractice claim can bring a sigh of relief, but you need to be aware that obtaining a settlement won’t likely happen quickly and might not be the amount you have been expecting. When a healthcare provider finally agrees to settle a case in Indiana, it does not mean the case is over, especially if the damages are in excess of the healthcare provider’s underlying liability. Currently in Indiana, the doctor’s or hospital’s financial responsibility is generally limited to the first $250,000 of a claim if the healthcare provider is properly qualified under Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act. However, Indiana law also permits a healthcare provider to offer to settle a claim for $187,001—which consists of some cash and some of the funds allocated to an annuity. If the injured patient wants additional compensation, he or she must then petition the Patient’s Compensation Fund. Such a petition is an additional and separate process.
If this situation occurs with your claim, it is important that the settlement agreement complies with Indiana law to allow the patient to access the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund—an entity run by the state—for additional recovery up to the state’s capped amount. Currently, the Indiana cap on the amount of money a patient can recover per injury is generally limited to $1.25 million. This is for an act of malpractice resulting in one injury, regardless of how serious the injury is, how much are the past or future medical expenses, how much the patient lost or will lose in wages, or if the patient died. If an injured patient dies with no dependents, the recovery is further limited to $300,000 for the beneficiaries’ loss of the deceased’s love, care, and companionship.
The Indiana cap on damages will change as of 2017. See our blog ‘Long Overdue Adjustment in Medical-Malpractice Cap Becomes Indiana Law‘ for more discussion on this topic. The reality is that generally there is no easy route for an injured patient to take under Indiana’s medical-malpractice laws, but an experienced attorney can help seamlessly guide a patient with a meritorious claim through this process.
If a lawyer tells you that he or she can settle your medical-malpractice case quickly in Indiana, consider seeking a second opinion. The Langerand Langer attorneys have handled all kinds of medical-malpractice claims throughout Indiana and can serve as your advocate throughout the complex settlement process. If you have further questions about Indiana’s medical-malpractice laws and the statute of limitations, feel free to contact our offices.