Since 1975, Indiana legislators have decided to limit the amount of compensation injured victims of medical malpractice are entitled to receive by placing a cap on the amount of medical malpractice awards. The current cap on all damages in Indiana is $1,250,000. In many cases, this amount does not begin to fully compensate someone for the harm that was done to them. Oftentimes, the cap does not even cover the costs of an injured person’s past medical bills, lost wages, and the costs of the medical care they will need in the future. These injured Hoosiers often are forced into bankruptcy or require State aid to cover their medical costs. In stark contrast, in 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court declared the state’s previous cap on non-economic damages unconstitutional.
Unlike the laws in Illinois, the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act provides shelter for doctors and limits the amount their insurance company has to pay for their negligence to $250,000. Even if a jury finds that a doctor or hospital was negligent and caused a patient catastrophic injuries or even death, the doctor will never pay a dime out of his pocket and the most his or her insurance company would have to pay is $250,000. Therefore, despite the nature of the injuries or the amount of medical bills the patient incurs as a result of a doctor’s negligence in Indiana, the doctor remains protected under the Indiana caps and the patient suffers all of the harm.
This past March, Governor Pence signed a bill approving an increase to the state’s cap on medical malpractice damages. The new law would raise the cap to $1.65 million in 2017 and $1.8 million in 2019. Indiana’s new law continues to cover both economic and non-economic damages. The final vote was a unanimous 49/0. It is widely believed that one of the reasons the cap was increased was the growing concern among the medical and insurance community that the Indiana Courts might find the low value caps unconstitutional as the caps were clearly depriving many plaintiffs from being fully compensated for their injuries. Despite the increases to the cap, many victims of medical malpractice will continue to be under compensated for the injuries they sustained.
Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford), who sponsored the legislation, said “Even with the increase, Indiana’s cap remains low compared with other states.”
During the hearing process, the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), argued that Indiana’s current cap makes the state a magnet for bad doctors. However, “It represents a big step forward in addressing a pretty big deficiency that existed since the last increase 18 years ago,” said Dan Ladendorf, a spokesperson for ITLA.
The Indiana State Medical Association opposed an original proposal to set the new cap on damages as high as $2.25 million. They eventually agreed with the proposed amounts.
Theodoros & Rooth believes that the victims of medical malpractice deserve to be fully compensated for their life-changing injuries. While we believe the caps deprive some plaintiffs of those rights, an increase in the caps may begin to help others get the compensation they deserve.
The lawyers at Theodoros & Rooth work exclusively on personal injury cases, such as medical malpractice, nursing home negligence, car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, and product liability. Our firm has become nationally known for aggressively standing up for the rights of those injured. If you believe that you or a loved one may have been injured or killed as a result of negligence, contact us immediately. The initial consultation is always free, and there are no attorney fees unless we win.