Serious Personal Injury and the Truth
In my continuing effort to educate the general public about the truth regarding the Civil Justice System, I want to discuss a part of the medical malpractice law in Indiana. If you are seriously injured in a drunk driving accident, a construction accident, a slip and fall on privately owned property and you are 1% at fault for the injuries, you are still entitled to collect 99% of your damages. This is only fair, in that each person should be personally responsible for the harm they cause, and not just a part of the harm they cause, all the harm they cause.
This is not true in a medical malpractice case. If the health care provider commits malpractice, but the injured patient is 1% at fault for his/her injuries, because they forgot to take a medication on one occasion, then that 1% fault means that the health care provider does not have to compensate the patient they injured even though the health care provider’s fault caused 99% of the harm. Now remember, medical malpractice does not mean the health care provider meant to do anything to cause the harm. Medical malpractice simply means that the health care provider failed to treat the patient the same way a reasonably careful doctor would treat the patient. You can liken this to a driver who fails to stop at a stop sign and causes an auto accident. The driver did not mean to ram the other car, they simply did not drive as a reasonably careful driver would drive, i.e. stopping at the stop sign.
It is not fair that health care providers are not responsible for making up for the harm they cause, if the person they injure is minimally at fault for the injuries. If you are a juror, you are not told this truth about medical malpractice, and there is no sound reason why you are not told this truth. I propose one of two changes. Either change the system so that each party to the lawsuit is responsible for exactly the amount of harm they cause, or tell jurors the truth about how the system now works.