Way back in 1975, Indiana was the first state to enact malpractice reform legislation. That was a landmark move, but a cap on how much Hoosier victims can collect has been a burden in many malpractice cases ever since. Some recent progress has eased this burden.
Last month (March) lawmakers voted to increase the cap on damages Hoosiers can collect in medical malpractice suites. It was the first increase in 20 years.
Governor Pence signed the bill that raises the limit from $1.25 million to $1.65 million. The cap increases to $1.8 million by 2019.
The final vote on what is known as Senate Bill 28 was 49/0 and it came after just nine days of public discussion. The bill was authored by State Senator Brent Steele (R-Bedford). It was the last bill of Steele’s 22-year legislative career and he received a standing ovation from his fellow lawmakers.
Indiana is also fairly unique among states in that its “damage cap” applies to the total amount of compensation that an injured patient can recover — not just to certain categories of damages (many states limit only the recovery of non-economic damages, which includes compensation for things like “pain and suffering”).
“It was extremely important for the General Assembly to pass this legislation because the current cap hasn’t been updated in nearly 20 years, making our entire medical malpractice system vulnerable to a constitutional challenge,” Steele said. “After dedicating more than 150 hours working on this legislation, I am pleased that all parties involved – including the Indiana State Medical Association, Indiana Hospital Association, Indiana Health Care Association and Indiana Trial Lawyers Association – were able to reach an agreement so this important legislation can now move on to the governor’s desk.”
Steele added that SEA 28 would allow payments to be received within 60 days rather than every three months. The bill also includes instructive language encouraging all parties to keep the medical review panel process moving as expediently as possible, which has also been an increasing problem.
Tauber Law applauds Senator Steele and his colleagues in the legislature for their relentless work in passing this important legislation. While there is often never enough compensation for victims of malpractice who have suffered injuries that will impair them for the rest of their lives, or for the family members of those who have died as a result of negligence in the medical field, at least this is progress. We hope for more down the line, and more is needed.
If you believe you have been a victim of malpractice by a doctor, nurse, hospital or any other caregiver, call Tauber Law Office immediately for a free evaluation. If we believe you have a case, we will fight aggressively to get you the compensation you truly deserve.