Likelihood of increase in medical malpractice cap in Indiana

A Legislative study committee on September 10, 2015, contemplated the likelihood to increase the limit of recovery for a medical malpractice victim. The already existing medical malpractice cap has been fixed at $1.25 million (since 1999) with no amendment for more than 15 years. This issue was raised in an attempt to address the claims of malpractice victims in the present and existing time. Thus, under the currently existing medical malpractice laws liability of the insurer is limited to $250,000 and other damages in excess of that amount are paid from the Indiana Patient Compensation Fund, up to a total of $1.25 million.

A General Assembly Panel was set to study whether caps on damages in Indiana’s medical malpractice statute should be changed. The panel will likely hear presentation regarding caps on damages from the Department of Insurance before hearing from any groups in favor and in opposition to the changing of caps. House Bill 1043[1] introduced this year to increase the threshold of such caps cleared committees but was defeated in its houses of origin. The bill, authored by Republican Jerry Torr and co-authored by Republican Ryan Dvorak was put forward to explicitly increase the medical malpractice cap from $1,250,000 to $1,650,000 for claims arising after June 30, 2015. The said bill also detailed into other related issues and read that payments from the patient's compensation fund were to be disbursed not later than 60 days after the issuance of a final, non-appealable judgment.

On the other hand, those opposing such increase in the malpractice cap are concerned. Tim Kennedy, a lobbyist for Indiana Hospital Association is worried that such rise in the standard of damages will also increase the cost for doctors. Similar concerns were reflected by Mike Rinebold, Indiana State Medical Association lobbyist, according to whom, the rise will proportionally raise physician’s cost by approximately 15%, a figure also stated in the House Bill 1043.

The Assembly panel is still contemplating the issue and so far has not indicated if it would recommend increasing the medical malpractice cap.

 



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