You might think you are free from harm when in a doctor’s care. Unfortunately, doctors are capable of, and do, sometimes cause injuries to their patients. If you’ve been injured in a surgical procedure, Indiana allows you to file a lawsuit asserting Indiana surgical error claims against and seek compensation from your healthcare provider.
To recover in a case alleging Indiana surgical error malpractice, you must bring the claim in time, prove a surgical error occurred, and establish the error that caused your injury. Here, an experienced Indiana medical malpractice attorney explains what to expect in your case.
Initiating a Lawsuit for Indiana Surgical Error Claims
The first step in a case involving Indiana surgical error claims is identifying the nature of the injury and who is responsible. It is likely that you have many hands involved in your care in a surgical procedure. A surgical team can include several doctors and a team of nurses. The responsible party or parties for your injury may include any one or more of the following:
- Nurses; and
- Hospital or clinic.
The Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, Indiana Code article 34-18, does not require medical care providers to carry malpractice insurance. However, if the provider does carry insurance that meets certain requirements, the Medical Malpractice Act caps compensation allowed in a medical malpractice case. To be covered by those caps, a health care provider must carry malpractice insurance or provide proof of financial responsibility as described in Indiana Code chapter 34-18-4. If the provider does not “qualify” under the Medical Malpractice Act, the cap does not apply.
Most medical care providers carry malpractice insurance, which means you’ll be facing off against their insurance carrier in your malpractice suit. Having a surgical error malpractice lawyer in Indiana can make it easier to face the large hospitals and insurance companies.
Another key aspect of your lawsuit is understanding the relevant time limitations. Specifically, how long do you have to sue a doctor after surgery? Under Indiana Code § 34-18-7-1, injured patients must initiate a malpractice case within two years from the date of the malpractice, not from the date you learn of the malpractice. There are exceptions to this rule, but the exceptions can be complicated. It is best to consult an attorney right away. However, a child under six years old has until age eight to file a claim.
Proving Indiana Surgical Error Claims
Proving a professional such as a doctor made a mistake can be difficult, and both the facts and the legal process can be intimidating. However, with the help of an attorney, you can hold the defendant responsible for the damages you deserve. To prove a surgical error claim in Indiana, you must prove medical malpractice.
To establish a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff must establish the following:
- A doctor-patient relationship existed;
- The doctor breached the standard of care; and
- The breach caused your injury.
A doctor breaches the duty of following the standard of care by acting negligently or unreasonably in causing a patient’s injury. The doctor’s conduct is judged against the average standard of care in the doctor’s field, which is established through expert testimony. Therefore, to be liable, the doctor must have departed from the accepted norms in their field while treating the patient.
Although you must file your medical malpractice claim within two years of the date of your injury, most cases must first be presented to a Medical Review Panel of three healthcare providers before being litigated in court. The panel reviews the case and gives its opinion on whether the medical care provider(s) deviated from the standard of care.
Regardless of the outcome of the panel review, after that stage is completed, you may proceed to litigate your claim in court. Your case may ultimately go to trial or be resolved through alternative dispute resolution. Whether your case culminates in a settlement or a final judgment following a trial, if you are entitled to payment for your injuries, the medical care provider is responsible for up to $250,000 to $500,000 of damages, depending on when the injury occurred. The balance comes from the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund and is payable within 60 days of settlement or judgment.
Common Causes of Indiana Surgical Errors
During surgery, many different things can go wrong or become emergencies. While it is difficult to narrow down the surgical errors, they generally fall into the following categories:
- Wrong site;
- Wrong procedure;
- Wrong patient;
- Instruments or equipment left inside the patient; or
- Injury caused during surgery.
One of the most common surgical errors is performing the procedure on the wrong site or performing an entirely wrong procedure. For example, the doctor could be held liable for performing surgery on the left leg instead of the right leg. These mistakes demonstrate the doctor’s failure to adhere to standard protocols, resulting in a finding of negligence.
Another common surgical error involves instruments left in the patient’s body. At times, this can be harmless. However, a patient may suffer serious harm and require medical treatment at a significant cost.
An experienced Indiana medical malpractice attorney will work with you to gather all the facts, identify the cause of the surgical error that injured you, and fight to recover the damages you deserve.
Damages for Indiana Surgical Error Claims
After establishing that a medical care provider’s actions (or inactions) caused your injuries in a surgical procedure, you must establish the amount of damages that will compensate you for your injury. Damages include economic and non-economic rewards.
Economic damages provide the plaintiff with compensation for the financial burden caused by surgical errors. This can include lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical bills, and needed therapy.
You may also seek non-economic damages for the pain and suffering caused by the surgical errors and for the loss of enjoyment of life after the injury. Your life and activities after the injury are compared to your life before the injury to evaluate the value in damages.
Proving Indiana surgical error claims is difficult, but an experienced attorney can help. Indiana medical malpractice attorney David Allen of Camden & Meridew, P.C. has the experience and litigation skills needed to maximize compensation in your case. For more information about how we can help, contact David Allen by calling 317-770-0000 or complete our online contact form today.