Medical malpractice (or med mal) is the improper treatment or negligent treatment of a patient that does not meet the standard of care that another reasonably sound medical professional would provide. In Indiana, the statute of limitations for a med mal victim to file a lawsuit is two years.
Medical malpractice can involve taking the wrong course of action, taking no action, or failing to diagnose a condition on time. A few examples of medical malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose or delayed diagnosis
- Childbirth injuries that could have been prevented
- Errors in prescribing medication
- Errors in administering anesthesia
- Surgical errors
Indiana’s Statute of Limitations on Med Mal Claims
The statute of limitations begins from the date that you received improper or negligent care from the medical professional. Children under the age of six who suffer from medical malpractice can file up until their eighth birthday.
Additionally, in rare circumstances where the medical malpractice was covered up, a patient might be able to file a lawsuit for up to a year after learning of the medical malpractice. For this to be permissible in Indiana, the patient must have used reasonable diligence in uncovering the medical malpractice as soon as possible.
For example, one type of medical malpractice injury or complication that a patient can suffer is having surgical equipment left inside of their body after an operation. The only way you would discover this is through an X-ray later on.
However, if you have symptoms that tell you that something isn’t right after a procedure and you don’t get it checked out, you wouldn’t be completing your reasonable due diligence to discover the medical malpractice promptly.
What’s the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Med Mal?
Medical malpractice and medical negligence are two slightly different things. Negligence means that the medical professional failed to do something that the doctor’s peers would consider reasonable. Negligence is generally a mistake or oversight that harms the patient.
Medical malpractice is a deliberate breach of contract in which the medical provider knew something that would help the patient but consciously chose a different action.
There are three elements to medical negligence that you and your attorney must prove if you hope to win a lawsuit:
- Duty of care: the healthcare professional in question must have a duty of care toward the patient. When a doctor or other medical professional agrees to treat a patient, that patient has a reasonable expectation of care. The patient expects that the medical professional will have the skill and competence required to treat them.
- Breach of duty of care: when a medical professional violates the standard of care or fails to take their duty of care seriously, they might be in breach of their duty of care. This is where medical malpractice claims are a bit more complicated compared to other types of personal injury claims. To prove a breach of duty of care, most cases require an expert witness to establish what the standard of care should be within that medical specialty or given the circumstances the patient experienced.
- The medical professional’s negligence caused the patient’s injury or complications: the medical professional’s actions or lack of action must be the direct cause of the patient’s harm. The presence of negligence in a doctor-patient relationship is not enough for a malpractice claim. Instead, there must be injuries or complications that result from that action or inaction.
Causal relationships can get complicated when it comes to medical malpractice at a hospital. Expert witnesses can decipher a patient’s medical record to learn which doctor treated the patient at what time and when the symptoms began for the patient. Experts can then help determine that there is a true causal relationship between a patient’s complications and a medical professional’s actions.
Get a Skilled Medical Malpractice Attorney on Your Side
If you suspect you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, it’s crucial that you contact a reputable attorney as soon as possible. Medical malpractice lawsuits are complicated and often require expert witness testimony and extensive documentation.
Building a med mal lawsuit takes a great deal of time. You want to set yourself up for success and ensure that your attorney has the best chance of succeeding in your lawsuit by starting the process while all details are still fresh in your mind.
It’s also important that you protect yourself from continued care with the negligent medical professional. Starting in 2019, Indiana law capped medical malpractice awards at $1.8 million. While that might sound like a lot, continued care for chronic conditions or another surgery to fix your ailments could well exceed this amount if you aren’t careful.
Stewart and Stewart is a team of skilled medical malpractice attorneys. We’ll take the time to walk through any nuances in your case and help you understand your legal options. Contact us to schedule a free consultation to learn more.