Category Archives: medical malpractice

2016 Update on Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Reform Legislation | Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorneys and Wrongful Death Lawyers

2016 Update on Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Reform Legislation | Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorneys and Wrongful Death Lawyers

Indiana 2016 updated Medical Malpractice ActAs lay people, we put our faith in physicians, nurses,  hospital facilities and other medical providers whom we trust to exercise sound professional decisions, provide quality care and abide by “best practice” standards in their field(s) of medicine. Most healthcare professionals meet or exceed the benchmark of quality health care we have come to expect. But when medical experts fail to meet a reasonable standard of care that results in your bodily injury or the death of a family member, you need an experienced Indiana medical malpractice attorney to represent you and your family’s interests in a legal action against a negligent medical practitioner(s ).

History of Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act

In 1975, to avert an exodus of medical professionals from the state of Indiana, lawmakers enacted the Medical Malpractice Act which would bring stringent reform to civil actions for medical negligence and place caps on liability payouts. Caps for acts of medical negligence had been raised only twice since the initial legislation was enacted 41 years ago. Periodically, lawmakers should revisit the caps imposed by the Malpractice Act and make fair, economic adjustments that reflect inflation and soaring healthcare costs.

The Medical Malpractice Act as Amended in 2016


Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501Currently, Indiana has one of the lowest caps in the nation. In 2016, Senator Brent Steele from Bedford, Indiana authored and introduced Senate Bill 28 (SB 28) which would not only increase the caps imposed upon injured persons and the families of persons deceased by an act of medical negligence, but would hasten payments made by the Patient’s Compensation Fund for a court approved settlement or final non-appealable judgment. The Indiana Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA),  one of the most respected lobbies serving the interests of Hoosiers, backed Steele’s bill and worked diligently with lawmakers and healthcare providers alike, to amend and improve on certain aspects of Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act. Although ITLA does not favor caps on tort claims, the political climate was ripe for all interested parties, including the Indiana Medical Association which represents physicians, to strike a compromise with lawmakers that would benefit individual citizens and continue to attract accomplished physicians and talented healthcare professionals to the state of Indiana.

After SB 28 was heavily amended by both the house and the senate, lawmakers voted unanimously on March 8, 2016, to send the bill to Governor Mike Pence for his signature. Several of the bill’s key changes to Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act are shown on the right hand column in the chart below. Read SB 28.

Medical Malpractice Act

Prior to

July 1, 2017

 Medical Malpractice Act

Effective July 1, 2017

Liability Caps

Patients can only receive up to $1.25 million in damages from an act of malpractice.

Liability Caps

Effective, July 1, 2017, patients injured or killed by a negligent act of malpractice on or after July 1, 2017, may receive an amount no greater than $1.65 million in damages.

Effective July 1, 2019,  lawmakers have approved an additional raise of $150,000 for patients injured or killed by a negligent act of malpractice on or after July 1, 2019. Patients may receive an amount no greater than $1.8 million in damages.

(PCF) Patient’s Compensation Fund

Physicians and Providers are responsible for the first $250,000 in damages owed to one patient for one act of malpractice, and no more than $750,000 combined annually. The PCF covers the rest of a patient’s damages, which allows patients a guarantee of full compensation by excluding physicians’ insurance plans as a factor in the ability to cover damages awards.

 (PCF) Patient’s Compensation Fund

Effective, July 1, 2017,
Physicians and Providers are responsible for the first $400,000 in damages owed to one patient for one act of malpractice. The PCF is responsible for $1.25 million.

Effective, July 1, 2019,
Physicians and Providers are responsible for the first $500,000 in damages owed to one patient for one act of malpractice. The PCF is responsible for $1.3 million.

Time Limits

The statute of limitations for filing a complaint is two years from the act of malpractice. Children less than six years-old have until their eighth birthday to file a complaint.

Time Limits

No change.

Filing Complaints

Before taking a case to court, patients must file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance, where a three-physician medical review panel reviews the claim. If there is one defendant, two of the three panel members must be from the accused physician’s specialty. The panel gives a non-conclusive, non-binding report, but they can be called as experts if the defendant chooses to take the case to court.

Filing Complaints

No change.

Payment from PCF

Claims for payment from the Patient’s Compensation Fund are paid quarterly

Payment from PCF

Effective July 1, 2017
Claims from the patient’s compensation fund must be paid not later than 60 days after the issuance of a court approved settlement or final non-appealable judgment.

 

Experienced Indiana Medical Malpractice Lawyers and Nursing Home Negligence Attorneys

Our experienced Indiana medical malpractice lawyers are here to navigate the complexities of the medical malpractice claims process for you and your loved ones. Call Ward & Ward Law Firm today at 317-639-9501 and ask for “Charlie” for a free, no obligation, consultation.

By Charlie Ward
cpw@wardlawfirm.com

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

 

Read more about medical malpractice lawyers in Indiana:

Medical Malpractice and Related Injuries

Understanding Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Law

 

 

Basics Of A Negligence Action in Indianapolis and Greater Indiana

Indianapolis Auto Accident Injury Lawyer‘Negligence’ Pertaining to a Personal Injury Claim

You were involved in an accident. Now you are entangled in insurance paperwork and solicitations by lawyers to handle your case. You are bound to hear a bevy of unfamiliar legal terms related to your case. One of those common terms is “negligence.” What is negligence, and what exactly does it mean?Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

According to Cornell.edu, negligence is the failure to take reasonable care that a prudent person would take under the same circumstances. Basically, it refers to a person’s careless or reckless actions that led to another person’s injuries or damages.

Negligence occurs in many forms, from car crashes to professional malpractice. Regardless of the specific type of case, ever since colonial times, a negligence action in the United States has had the same basic components:

  • Duty: Reasonable care, which is an objective standard, is the duty that most people owe to other people. Sometimes, there is a higher duty, such as in an attorney-client matter, and sometimes there is a lower duty, such as when a trespasser is injured on another person’s land.
  • Breach: If defendants fail to meet the applicable standard of care, then they have breached the legal duty. Often, as in Blyth v. Birmingham Water Works, there is an element of foreseeability: The defendant must understand that the breach of duty may result in damages.
  • Cause: Causation, the link between the breach of duty and the plaintiff’s damages, is actually a two-step inquiry:
    • Cause in fact: In legal terms, the plaintiff must show “but for” causation, i.e., that the injury would not have occurred “but for” the defendant’s negligence.
    • Proximate cause: Proximate cause goes back to foreseeability. In one famous case, Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad, the defendant railroad company was not liable for the plaintiff’s injury that occurred when two porters pushed a man onto a moving train car, causing the man to drop a package of fireworks. The shockwave from the fireworks pushed over a pair of scales, which fell on the plaintiff. The court found that the injury was not foreseeable and the connection was too remote.
  • Damages: There is no action for negligence unless the plaintiff is damaged. Damages can include both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages would be easily quantifiable numbers, such as medical expenses and property damage. Non-economic damages are harder to assign value to, such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages are also available in some cases.

If you have questions about your personal injury case or need hard-hitting representation, contact an Indianapolis accident attorney today.

Broken Bones | Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Indianapolis

Many children who sustain a fracture to an arm or leg as a result of an accident have a good chance of having the fracture improperly splinted.

Personal Injury Lawyer - Medical Malpractice Statistics show that almost half of all boys and a quarter of all girls will fracture an arm or leg before 16.  Properly set, the fracture heals rather quickly with little residual problems.  However, in a recent study from the University of Maryland (pediatric bone specialists) more than 90% of children with fractures had their bone improperly splinted.  As a result, further complications such as loss of motion or skin grafts can occur.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Dr. Josh Abzug, who directs pediatric orthopedics at University of Maryland believes that improper splinting occurs from a lack of education in some situations and a lack of attention to detail in others.  In addition, in many situations a doctor or health care worker splints a fracture with instructions for the parent to follow-up with an orthopedic the next day.  However, the follow-up does not occur right away and complications set in.

Dr. Abzug believes that posters or flashcards in an emergency room or urgent care center outlining proper splinting can minimize the problem.  He further advises parents to listen to their children. Should a child complain of lots of pain (crying) or major swelling/discoloration occur in the split area, Dr. Abzug advises to immediately proceed to the emergency room.  Time is of the utmost importance.

 

Medical Malpractice Reform | Personal Injury lawyers in Indianapolis

A Recent Study shows Lack of Health Care Savings on Medical Malpractice Reform

Since this was posted, Indiana lawmakers have enacted changes in Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Law. To learn more about changes that benefit Indiana’s residents, visit our blog, 2016 Update on Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act.

Personal Injury Indianapolis IN - Lawyer Many argue that one of the reasons medical costs are so high is due to fact that doctors are concerned with a potential medical malpractice lawsuit so the doctors order many medical tests, which turn out to be expensive and unnecessary, to protect themselves from liability.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

A recent study by the Rand Corporation investigated three states (Texas, South Carolina and Georgia) which have all enacted medical malpractice reform laws over the past decade. The study focused on emergency room care. The analysis showed that there has been very little impact from the stricter laws on the volume or cost of emergency room care.

The argument for defensive medicine comes into play with costs and many want to find a way to deal with the subject. The study seems to find that doctors are not as concerned with a potential medical malpractice lawsuit as thought. Thus casting doubt on savings from the medical malpractice reform laws which have been enacted in the three states. Each of the states enacted the medical malpractice reform laws as a way to prevent escalating health care costs. The study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The debate continues……

Understanding Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Law

Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Reform Legislation

Since this blog was posted, Indiana lawmakers have enacted changes in Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Law. To learn more about changes that benefit Indiana’s residents, visit our blog, 2016 Update on Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act.

When you visit your doctor or go to the hospital to undergo surgery or to give birth, you may be putting your life in another person’s hands. When medical professionals fail to provide a pre-determined standard of care that results in your injury, an Indianapolis medical malpractice attorney can help you pursue legal action to recover for your losses and receive just compensation.Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501

Indiana was the first state to pass medical malpractice reform through legislation in 1975, and its Medical Malpractice Act remains effective for both physicians and patients. There are a few key points in Indiana’s medical malpractice laws that are important to understand, including:

  • Liability caps: Patients can only receive up to $1.25 million in damages from an act of malpractice. This cap has been raised twice since 1975 and is meant to keep insurance rates low, making it more affordable for physicians to practice in Indiana. This allows citizens more options when pursuing medical care. Physicians are not required to carry medical malpractice insurance, but they must buy insurance to be eligible for capped liability.
  • Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF): Physicians are only responsible for the first $250,000 in damages owed to one patient for one act of malpractice, and no more than $750,000 combined annually. The PCF covers the rest of a patient’s damages, which allows patients a guarantee of full compensation by excluding physicians’ insurance plans as a factor in the ability to cover damages awards.
  • Attorney’s fee caps: A patient’s attorney cannot charge more than 15 percent of the total damages from the PCF. There is no cap on the first $250,000 paid by the physician.
  • Time limits: The statute of limitations for filing a complaint is two years from the act of malpractice. Children less than six years-old have until their eighth birthday to file a complaint.
  • Filing complaints: Before taking a case to court, patients must file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance, where a three-physician medical review panel reviews the claim. If there is one defendant, two of the three panel members must be from the accused physician’s specialty. The panel gives a non-conclusive, non-binding report, but they can be called as experts if the defendant chooses to take the case to court.

While Indiana’s law provides protection to physicians and patients, the process can be complex and stressful, particularly when coping with an injury or health complication. Indiana medical malpractice lawyers who have been publicly recognized by peers and clients can help you through this process to get you the compensation and justice you deserve.

Call Ward & Ward Law Firm at 317-639-9501 and ask for “Charlie” for a free consultation.

Protect your Personal Injury, Wrongful Death Claim – Refrain from Social Networking Activity

Personal injury lawyer in Indianapolis IN Protect Your Accident Claim by Refraining from Posting on Social Media

If you have hired a personal injury lawyer to protect your interests in a claim for injuries and damages involving a car, motorcycle, truck or semi tractor-trailer accident, your attorney will likely ask you to refrain from posting photos or messages of any kind to social networking sites, no matter how harmless or irrelevant your posts may seem to your case. Insurance company defendants can infer a great deal of information — and misinformation —from ‘harmless’ photographs that are taken out of the context of your daily life.

The legal term “discovery” means a formal pre-trial investigation. Call Charlie Ward at 317-639-9501Attorneys for claimants and defendants use the discovery approach to build their claim or make their defense. Vehicles used by attorneys for the discovery process may include, but are not limited to, Interrogatories, Request for Admissions and Request for Production of Documents. Despite privacy concerns, several state and federal courts have ruled that pictures, postings and messages transmitted via social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and many other online networking sites, may be compelled in the discovery process. You may be asked to turn over personal or professional profiles (both private and public), posts and images that you or your “friends” have posted online, even those postings made prior to your accident if defense can make the case that previous posts could be relevant to the case at hand.

Penalties for Spoliation of Evidence

I should caution you about ‘cleaning up’ or deactivating your social networking sites. In a wrongful death case in Virginia, a plaintiff received monetary sanctions from the Court in the amount of $180,000 for “spoliation” or tampering with the evidence by removing 16 photos from his Facebook account. Although the jury ultimately found on behalf of the Plaintiff, his monetary award was greatly reduced by that amount and his attorney was sanctioned $522,000 for instructing his client to destroy his page.

Lawyers practicing in the state of Indiana must abide by the Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct. Section 3.4 of the rules states:

 “a lawyer shall not unlawfully obstruct another party’s access to evidence or unlawfully alter, destroy or conceal a document or other material having potential evidentiary value. A lawyer shall not counsel or assist another person to do any such act.”

Sound Rules for Social Media Posts

An experienced personal injury or wrongful death lawyer may ask you to refrain from further online posting but should never ask you to hide, clean-up or remove posts, messages or photos which you or someone you know has already posted. The following are a few good common sense rules to abide by if you are involved in a personal injury claim:

  1. Do not talk about your case to anyone except your attorney;
  2. Do not accept any “friend” requests from people you don’t personally know;
  3. Do not post any photos of yourself online; and
  4. Do not hide, remove or in any way destroy any online postings that were made by or about you until your case has been disposed.

Lawyers experienced in accident with injury cases

The law firm of Ward & Ward has over eighty-five years of legal experience with personal injury and wrongful death claims. Our firm receives no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call Charlie Ward today for a free evaluation of your claim.

By Charlie Ward

cpw@wardlawfirm.com

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

 

How Do I File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Indianapolis IN Accident Attorney

Who can bring a wrongful death claim?

If your spouse, parent, or other relative on whom you depend dies from injuries sustained because of the wrongful act or omission of someone else, you have the right to bring a wrongful death action against the person or entity responsible.

Filing a wrongful death claim in Indiana

Call personal injury and accident lawyer Charlie Ward today for a free consultation

As soon as you are able after the death of your loved one, you should contact an Indianapolis wrongful death attorney to protect your right to compensation. Your wrongful death attorney will want as much time as possible to investigate the details of the case before filing with the court—do not wait until the last few months before the statute of limitations runs out.

What acts can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit?

According to Indiana law, if your loved one could have maintained a lawsuit against the person who caused his or her injury and death, and if you depended on your loved one for support, then you are entitled to bring a wrongful death suit on his or her behalf.

Typical acts of negligence that may unfortunately lead to a wrongful death include:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Motor vehicle accidents caused by driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving while texting, driving while distracted, or other negligent behavior behind the wheel
  • Negligent design or hazardous conditions created by the building owner or management
  • Other catastrophic injury resulting from negligence or recklessness

What compensation is available in a wrongful death suit?

Typically, damages permitted in a wrongful death case include:

  • Medical, hospital, funeral and burial expenses
  • Compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering in any period of consciousness between injury and death
  • Losses you suffered as a result of your loved one’s death, including: loss of financial support; loss of service; loss of gifts and other valuable gratuities; loss of parental training and guidance; and loss of society and companionship

Skilled and seasoned Indianapolis personal injury attorneys working to protect your rights

If you recently lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of someone else, the wrongful death attorneys at Ward & Ward can help ensure that you do not suffer needless financial distress in addition to mourning your tragic loss.  Ward & Ward invite you to contact them as soon as possible to arrange a free initial consultation about your case, by phone at 888-316-3449, through their website, or simply by visiting their conveniently-located Indianapolis office.

By Charlie Ward

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501

What Does Negligence Mean in a Lawsuit?

‘Negligence’ Defined

Call personal injury and accident lawyer Charlie Ward today for a free consultation

We all have an idea of what negligence means. For example, we know a neglected child when we see one, we can all identify that one neglected house on our street, and we know what happens when we neglect our health or our finances.  But what does negligence mean in the legal sense?

Negligence and its elements

Legal negligence constitutes more than simply not taking adequate care of something.  It means failing to adhere to a minimum standard of conduct in a way that causes measurable harm to another person.  Lawyers and judges look for four elements of negligence:

  • Duty. In legal theory, everyone owes a duty to everyone else.  At base, everyone has the duty to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances.  For example, while it may seem sensible to you to speed home to feed the dog before you call AAA because your power steering and brakes have just failed, a reasonable person in the same circumstances would probably get off the road right away to avoid endangering himself and other drivers.
  • Breach. Breach is a violation of the duty owed.  To continue the example from above, your duty as driver of a vehicle that has suddenly lost its power steering and brakes is probably to move your vehicle out of traffic as quickly and safely as possible.  Failing to do this constitutes a breach of your duty to the other drivers on the road.
  • Cause. Legal cause encompasses two concepts. Factual causation means that your breach of duty set in motion a chain of events that otherwise would not have occurred. Proximate cause assumes factual causation and examines whether your breach was closely related enough to the resultant injury.  For example, if your reckless driving compels another driver to leave his or her usual route and take a detour through a bad neighborhood where he or she suffers an assault and carjacking, there may be factual causation—she would never have taken that detour if you stopped driving when you should have—but no proximate cause.
  • Damage. Finally, legal negligence requires a showing of damages.  If your poor driving merely frightens the other drivers on the road, but does not cause any accidents or injuries, the final element of negligence is missing—except under very special and limited circumstances, the law does not consider merely being afraid of something a measurable injury.

Experienced Indianapolis personal injury lawyers working for you

If you have a negligence case in Indiana, you need to work with an attorney who knows Indiana personal injury law inside and out.  The Indianapolis personal injury attorneys at Ward & Ward have nearly 80 years of combined experience working to ensure that personal injury victims in Indiana get the attention they deserve and the financial security they need.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of another’s negligence or recklessness, Ward & Ward, Attorneys invite you to contact them as soon as possible to arrange a free initial consultation about your case, by phone at 888-316-3449, through their website, or simply by visiting their conveniently located Indianapolis office.