Tag Archives: Patient’s Compensation Fund

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.

Parents May Receive Compensation for Child’s Death, Attorney Fees & Litigation Costs Under Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute

Lawyer for personal Injury in Indianapolis INIndiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute and Patient’s Compensation Fund – Scope of Damages

After the executor of a young woman’s estate settled a medical malpractice claim for the statutory limit, the executor  petitioned the Patient’s Compensation Fund for additional compensation in excess of the settlement amount for attorney fees, probate administration, loss of services (love and companionship) to the decedent’s parents and litigation costs under Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute (AWDS). The Superior Court Judge of Marion County rejected the Fund’s contention regarding the scope of damages permitted under the Adult Wrongful Death Statute and awarded the full amount requested by the executor.

Damages Must be Compensatory

The Fund appealed the trial court’s final judgment in the amount of $278,377.55 on grounds that the judgment included sums for expenses of administration, attorney fees and loss of services that are not recoverable under Indiana’s Adult Wrongful Death Statute, Ind. Code § 34-23-1-2. The Court of Appeals rejected the Fund’s arguments and affirmed the trial court ruling. Ind. Patient’s Comp. Fund v. Brown, 934 N.E.2d 168 (Ind.Ct.App.2010). Indiana Supreme Court Justice Dickson, in the majority opinion, affirmed the trial court’s ruling. He writes: “[t]he Court of Appeals correctly noted that damages in actions under Indiana’s wrongful death statutes must be compensatory in nature”. Brown, 934 N.E.2d at 176-77.

The Fund’s argument treated all damages together—as a class—and did not make the distinction between the recoverability of any one item. In Brown, the Court declared, “[A]ttorney fees, probate administration costs, and litigation costs are compensatory damages that remedy actual pecuniary losses [emphasis added]. Therefore, we find no compelling reason why these damages should not be allowed.”

The Fund did not contest that the decedent’s parents suffered a pecuniary loss from the loss of her love and companionship but instead argued that “[s]uch damages are categorically unavailable under the Adult Wrongful Death statute.” The majority disagreed and stated: “[L]oss of services, when proved, would constitute a pecuniary loss of the type contemplated by the AWDS.”

Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers

The sudden loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another requires a firm grasp of the law and legal skill. Charlie Ward of Ward & Ward Law Firm is experienced in Wrongful Death Claims. If you have suffered a loss of a loved one from an accident or a medical providers negligence, and would like to discuss a wrongful death claim, call Charlie Ward for a free consultation today.

By Charlie Ward

[email protected]

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