Tag Archives: Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Attorney in Indianapolis

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.

Indiana State Supreme Court Rules on Wrongful Death Trial Court Order Balancing Conflicting Constitutional Interests

Indianapolis IN Accident Attorney By Charlie Ward

In Estate of Meux v. Cozmanoff, the Supreme Court upheld the trial court order that Defendant be required to answer Plaintiff’s Complaint in an effort to balance conflicting constitutional interests.

On March 6, 2012 Britney Meux was struck by a car operated by Jason R. Cozmanoff while jogging with three co-workers. Mr. Cozmanoff fled the scene of the accident and Britney later died from her injuries. Mr. Cozmanoff was criminally charged with thirteen crimes.

Weeks later a civil suit was filed against Mr. Cozmanoff by the administrators of Ms. Meux’s estate for gross negligence and/or willful and wanton misconduct.

Adverse parties assert different constitutional interests

Cozmanoff was conflicted as information and testimony given to Plaintiffs during discovery could be used against him by the prosecutor in his criminal trial. But if he were to invoke the Fifth Amendment guaranteeing protection from being called as a witness against himself in the civil suit, the trier of fact could have inferred Defendant’s responsibility for the wrongful death of Britney Meux.

Defendant Cozmanoff moved the trial court for a stay of all civil proceedings pending a resolution of his criminal prosecution citing the Fifth Amendment privilege.

“The Fifth Amendment, incorporated to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 6 (1964)” states as follows:

“…protects the individual against being involuntarily called as a witness against himself in a criminal prosecution but also privileges him not to answer official questions put to him in any other proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where the answers might incriminate him in future criminal proceedings.”

U.S.C.A. Const. Amends. 5, 14

 

The Plaintiff opposed his motion arguing the following:

  1. Defendant Cozmanoff’s criminal case might not be resolved for years;
  2. Discovery was necessary to identify other potential tortfeasors who must be joined to the case before the two-year statute of limitations ran; and
  3. The stay would offend Article 1, Section 12 of the Indiana State Constitution guaranteeing “Justice shall be administered freely…and without delay.” [Emphasis Added]

The civil trial court granted a limited stay of discovery as to Cozmanoff only but having done so ordered the Defendant to respond to Plaintiffs’ Complaint. Plaintiffs would still be free to investigate “outside the context of formal discovery.”

Opinion

On March 12, 2014, The Indiana State Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, finding reasoning to support the trial court’s decision in the matter of The Estate of Meux v. Cozmanoff as follows:

“When two adverse parties each assert different constitutional interests, the court must consider each interest ‘in the light of the other, and in the context of the issues and interests at stake.’ Hostetter v. Idlewild Bon Voyage Liquor Corp., 377 U.S. 324, 332 (1964).”

The opinion further states:

“Our ruling today does not mean the trial court was constitutionally required to impose the stay;simply that it did not abuse its discretion by so doing.”

A Law Firm With Over 85 Years of Combined Experience

The attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm have over 85 years of combined experience in wrongful death litigation. Often, person’s alleged to be responsible for the wrongful death of another, must face criminal prosecution while simultaneously undergoing civil suit. Our attorneys maintain an up-to-date working knowledge of legislation and rulings and utilize every legal tool at our disposal to uncover the truth and analyze the facts of a case including private investigators, witness interviews, testimony undertaken by deposition and discovery of physical evidence and documentation through the Freedom of Information Act.
If you are looking for a wrongful death attorney, attorney, Charlie Ward, would like to offer you a free consultation with no obligation. Call 317-639-9501 today and ask for Charlie..

Charlie Ward, Personal Injury Attorney

Ward & Ward Law Firm
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46225
317-639-9501
888-639-9501