315 E. Charles St.
Muncie, Indiana 47305
FAX: (765) 747-1991
Indiana Medical Malpractice Act
A Very General and Limited Overview
On April 17, 1975 , the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act was enacted. Dr. Otis Bowen was governor at that time. This statute (Indiana Code 34-18) with subsequent amendments controls practically all causes of action (lawsuits) concerning medical malpractice/negligence in Indiana. The statute states that malpractice means a tort or breach of contract based on health care or professional services that were provided, or that should have been provided, by a health care provider, to a patient. (IC 34-18-2-18) Patient means an individual who receives or should have received health care from a health care provider, under a contract, express or implied, and includes a person having a claim of any kind, whether derivative or otherwise, as a result of alleged malpractice on the part of a health care provider. (IC 34-18-2-22)
In Indiana except in certain specific and limited circumstances, the allegedly wrongfully injured patient (claimant/plaintiff) is not allowed initially to file a medical malpractice cause of action directly in a court against the physician (health care provider). The plaintiff must first file a "proposed complaint" with the Commissioner of the Department of Insurance and have the claim presented to a medical review panel (MRP) that subsequently renders a medical opinion. When the health care provider/defendant is a single physician, the MRP consists of 3 physicians and 2 out of the 3 physicians have to be of the same specialty as the defendant physician. An attorney is appointed as chairman of the MRP but has no vote.
The plaintiff and the defendant health care provider both usually make a submission of written evidence to the panel. After the MRP reviews the relevant evident, the MRP renders its expert opinion in writing. The panel's exert opinion is admissible in court in any subsequent action brought by a plaintiff but the MRP's opinion is not conclusive.
More likely than not, a settlement is not reached in a medical malpractice case before the MRP renders its expert opinion. If the plaintiff patient receives a favorable panel expert opinion, a settlement may be reached between the parties at that time. If no settlement can be reached between the parties and the claimant/plaintiff patient wishes to proceed in the litigation then a complaint must then be filed in the court system.
If the plaintiff patient receives an unfavorable panel expert opinion, the proceedings may end at that time because in many such cases the likelihood of a successful outcome in the court system is not favorable. This has to be determined on a case-by-case basis based on the known medical merits of the case as it stands after the MRP's expert opinion has been rendered. The Medical Review Panel is not infallible.
Dr. Edler's goal as an attorney, who is also an experienced physician, is to attempt to only accept representation in those cases that he believes after medical evaluation exhibit a significant likelihood of medical negligence on the part of the physician or healthcare provider and that have presumed adequate damages to warrant or justify litigation. In his opinion, to do otherwise, would not be serving the best interests of you, the injured patient/prospective client/claimant, or the civil justice system. In other words, Dr. Edler is only interested in pursuing meritorious medical malpractice cases with serious personal injuries or wrongful death with adequate damages to warrant claims that he believes will have a favorable probability of a successful outcome. He cannot and would not guarantee a successful outcome in each case because the outcome of civil litigation is not always predictable.
With a settlement agreement or successful judgment in a case in which medical malpractice occurred after June 30, 1999, monetary damages are usually received from first the defendant physician's insurance company (generally up to $250,000) then if warranted from the Indiana Patient Compensation Fund (PCF) (generally up to $1,000,000) up to a combined total from the two sources of $1,250,000. Litigation may also be involved to obtain funds from the PCF.
The aforementioned is a superficial and general overview or outline of the process of medical malpractice litigation in Indiana and is not complete. Medical malpractice litigation in Indiana is complex and expensive as well as time consuming.