Suing for Medical Malpractice – continued
To continue our discussion of medical malpractice, Indiana law provides the following:
Recovery for medical malpractice in Indiana since July 1, 1999 is limited to $1,250,000;
All qualified healthcare providers carry $250,000 of insurance and also pay a surcharge to the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund. The Fund is then liable for up to an additional $1,000,000 in compensation for injuries to a patient;
In order to be able to petition the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund for additional damages, the patient must first use up the healthcare provider’s $250,000 insurance policy. If the patient’s damages fall below this level, he or she has no claim for additional compensation against the Patient’s Compensation Fund;
The patient and healthcare provider can reach a settlement which pays out money damages over time through a structured settlement. The settlement has to cost the healthcare provider’s insurance company more than $187,000. Typically, the insurance company will pay $150,000 in cash and then purchase an annuity for $37,001 that will pay $100,000 over time. The payments plus the cash reaches the $250,000 threshold which allows the patient to tap into the Fund.
In tragic circumstances, a patient can wind up not merely injured by medical negligence but passing away. A “wrongful death” claim is a legal case filed by the spouse, children, or parents against the healthcare provider to compensate them for their losses as a result of the wrongful death of their family member. Indiana also permits a so-called survival action, in which the family can additionally sue for damages suffered by the deceased person prior to death. Damages include physical pain, suffering, property damages, and medical expenses.
Note: Indiana’s adult wrongful death statute–which only applies to unmarried adults who die without dependents–caps damages to $300,000 for loss of love and affection plus reasonable medical, funeral, and burial expenses incurred. Before this statute was enacted, a person who died with no spouse or dependents could only recover reasonable medical and funeral expenses.
We will continue this discussion in the next blog entry.