For the first time in nearly two decades, lawmakers in Indiana have voted in favor of a change to the cap on medical malpractice damages in the state for those who have been a victim of medical malpractice. The cap in place for cases prior to July 1, 2017 limited the amount of damages that a victim can recover in a medical malpractice suit to $1.25 million — a law that was passed almost 20 years ago. The new law increased that cap to $1.8 million by July 2019. Governor Mike Pence signed the legislation into law on March 25, 2016.
An Outdated Cap That Is Unfair to Plaintiffs
Indiana’s medical malpractice cap is one of the lowest in the nation. And although the change is a much-welcome one, the cap still remains low when compared with other states. The legislation, which was put forth by Sen. Brent Steele, originally proposed an increase in the cap every four years, which would be based on the cost of inflation. According to an article in the Indy Star, that proposal failed based on strong opposition from the Indiana State Medical Association. Another proposal was to increase the cap to $2.25 million by 2030; that proposal failed, too.
Understanding the Revisions
Below is a breakdown of some of the highlights of the revised Indiana Medical Malpractice Act:
Medical Malpractice Cap Increases
- A cap of $1.65 million for claims accruing after July 1, 2017, and through June 30, 2019 (with the healthcare provider responsible for the first $400,000, with any remaining damages up to another $1.25 million paid by the state Patient’s Compensation Fund)
- A cap of $1.8 million effective for claims accruing on or after July 1, 2019 (with the healthcare provider responsible for the first $500,000, with any remaining damages up to another $1.30 million paid by the state Patient’s Compensation Fund)
Split of Responsibility for Cap Increases
- For claims accruing between July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2019, the healthcare provider’s cap on damages increased from $250,000 to $400,000, absorbing $150,000 of the $400,000 in the overall cap increase. The Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF) will be responsible for $1.25 million, thereby absorbing the other $250,000 in the overall cap increase.
- For claims accruing on or after July 1, 2019, the healthcare provider’s cap on damages will increase from $400,000 to $500,000, absorbing $100,000 of the $150,000 in the overall cap increase. The PCF will be responsible for $1.8 million, thereby absorbing the other $50,000 in the overall cap increase.
Periodic Payments (Annuity)
Under new caps effective July 1, 2017, the healthcare provider will still be able to settle by paying 75 percent of the provider’s maximum exposure in cash with the balance in future periodic payments.
PCF Payout Schedule
Effective July 1, 2017, claims from the PCF must be paid no later than 60 days after the issuance of a court-approved settlement or final non-appealable judgment.
Medical Review Panel Fees Increased
The fees for panel members increased from $350 to $500. The cap on the panel chairman’s compensation raised from $2,000 to $2,500.
Addition to Protected Healthcare Providers
Anesthesiologist assistants were added to the definition of healthcare providers for purposes of the law concerning medical malpractice.
What the Medical Malpractice Legislation Means for Victims
For those who have been injured due to a medical professional’s negligence, the change in the law means that a plaintiff who files a medical malpractice suit for serious, permanent damages will now be eligible to receive a more just settlement award (assuming that malpractice can be proven).
Indiana Medical Malpractice Attorneys You Can Trust
If you are a victim of medical malpractice in Indiana, you deserve every penny that you can get to help pay for your damages. To help you file a strong claim, you need an attorney on your side who is experienced and trustworthy; at Baker & Gilchrist, our Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys know how confusing medical malpractice caps and claims can be, and we will work with you to help you understand everything you need to know about recovering the damages that you have sustained. Our fees are on a contingency fee basis, so we only get fees if we recover on your behalf. To learn more about our services, contact us today to request a free case consultation.