According to a recent Evansville Courier and Press story, medical negligence is on the rise in Indiana as reflected by data collected by the Department of Health. According to the Courier story, the most common preventable medical errors were pressure ulcers aka bedsores, followed by incidents of foreign objects left in patients after surgery. And, in spite of growing precautions, a local surgery center even reported three cases of surgery being performed on the wrong body part.
Although some might think a “preventable medical error” automatically equates with a successful medical negligence claim in court, this is not necessarily so. To prevail at trial in a legal case alleging medical negligence in Indiana, the injured patient must first prove through admissible evidence that there was a breach of the standard of care. And, second, the injured patient must prove through admissible evidence that the breach was a substantial contributing factor to the ensuing harm suffered, i.e. the breach is what caused the injuries alleged. Even if a healthcare provider were to admit causing an error, they might vehemently disagree with the nature and extent of damages alleged.
Unlike some States–such as Kentucky–where an individual may immediately file a medical negligence lawsuit in court, an individual pursuing a medical negligence claim in Indiana must generally first proceed by filing a proposed complaint in the Indiana Department of Insurance. Only after a medical review panel (chaired by a non-voting lawyer and three voting physicians) reviews the evidence and issues an opinion on breach and causation may a lawsuit proceed in court. Even once the lawsuit is allowed to proceed, the damages that may be recovered at trial are subjected to Indiana’s statutory cap.
Pursuing a medical negligence case in Indiana is often a long, frustrating, emotional, and expensive process. Even the most skilled medical negligence attorneys are very selective about the type of cases they will pursue on account of the numerous hurdles that must be cleared to achieve a successful result. However, most such attorneys are willing to offer a free consultation. If you believe that you or a loved one have been injured by medical negligence, it is important to keep in mind that these claims are time sensitive and take more time than a typical negligence claim to investigate. You are invited to contact Barsumian Armiger in confidence to discuss whether you may have a viable claim.