Bad News About Indiana Medical Malpractice Cases
Transcript: Hi, I’m Indiana personal injury attorney David W. Holub.
Have you ever heard the term, “don’t shoot the messenger?”
People often use that phrase when they have to convey bad news that they know might make people angry. Just about every time we speak with medical negligence callers we have to start out telling the callers that they might be hearing bad news.
Even a caller who has a clear-cut medical case will be hearing bad news. Why? Because Indiana was the first state back in 1975 to pass what they call medical malpractice reform legislation.
The act caps patient damages against doctors at $250,000, and that’s no matter how badly the doctor harms a patient. Let that sink in for a minute. No matter how bad the doctor harms a patient, a doctor’s capped at $250,000 exposure. The bad news about the doctor liability being capped at $250,000 is somewhat lessened by the fact that there is a pool called the patient compensation fund, which is really an insurance pool that does allow recovery up to $1,250,000, in some cases.
But bad news is still bad news. Before 1975, if a doctor did $10,000,000 worth of damage they could be on the hook for $10,000,000. Insurance companies and doctors defend the act by saying that it keeps premiums low and that it will prevent doctors from fleeing the state.
The reality is, however, that only one or two percent of the doctors in the state are actually committing malpractice. They’re people that probably should have had their license suspended a long time ago, and who really cares if that one or two bad percent of doctors flees the state? We would all be better and we would have less malpractice happening and there would be fewer people trying to seek out attorneys for malpractice claims. But the bad news about malpractice especially hurts people who have less significant claims. Why? Because in Indiana you have to submit a claim for medical malpractice to a medical review panel, which is made up of three medical doctors. It’s a costly process.
Sometimes it can cost up to $15,000 to hire experts to review medical records and go through that medical review panel process. And then once you get through the process, you still have to go through a court because even if they find the doctor responsible and having committed malpractice, that doesn’t end the lawsuit. You still have to go to court, and it’s very very rare for the review panel to find malpractice.
People calling an attorney about medical malpractice sometime come with the understandable mindset that, “Well, you’re the attorney. You pay the $15,000 to see if I have a case.” Well, in reality, it doesn’t work that way and can’t work that way. If you imagine, we sometimes talk to five medical malpractice callers a day. If we took those five cases and spent $15,000 on each case we’d be up to $75,000 in one day of calls.
Plus, the ethical requirements for attorneys put the responsibility of paying costs of litigation and bearing that cost squarely on the client. So now you see why I say whenever we talk to a medical malpractice caller they’re going to be hearing bad news. It’s just whether the news is terrible or moderately bad. But whatever, it’s going to be bad news. And we totally understand the frustration that callers are going to have. We have that same frustration. We wish that we could go back to before 1975 when Indiana was like most other states. We don’t believe that it’s fair that it’s the way it is right now and attorneys have appealed the cap statute and malpractice statute many times, and all those appeals have failed.
Nevertheless, the attorneys in our office do the best job that they can when consulting with medical negligence callers.
We encourage people to spend money when it makes good sense to do so, but not when it doesn’t make sense to do so. That’s all for this video. We have many other informational videos at our website. Feel free to check them out.