By: Jennifer L. Strange, Drewry Simmons Vornehm, LLP
On March 24, 2016, Governor Mike Pence signed into law Senate Enrolled Act No. 28, which makes significant changes to Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act (the “Act”), starting July 1, 2017. The biggest change is that this new law will raise the cap on total damages recoverable for a medical malpractice claim under the Act. The damages cap was last raised in 1998, almost 20 years ago.
The current cap limits recovery in a medical malpractice claim under the Act to $1.25 million per occurrence (with the qualified health care provider’s liability limited to $250,000; any amount in excess of $250,000 would be paid by the patient’s compensation fund under Ind. Code § 34-18-15). As a result of the new law, the total amount recoverable in a medical malpractice claim will increase over the next few years to $1.65 million starting July 1, 2017, and to $1.8 million starting on July 1, 2019.
Here is a summary of other significant changes to the Act that will go into effect next year:
- For claims that occur after June 30, 2017 but before July 1, 2019, a qualified health care provider’s liability is limited to $400,000 (up from a provider’s current exposure of $250,000);
- For claims that occur after June 30, 2019, a qualified health care provider’s liability is limited to $500,000;
- A new chapter was added to the Act, emphasizing that no party shall be dilatory and that timelines will be enforced;
- Defines “final nonappealable judgment”;
- An anesthesiologist assistant may be a qualified provider;
- Payment from the patient’s compensation fund must be made within 60 days after the issuance of a court approved settlement or final nonappealable judgment;
- The fees to be paid to panel members will increase from $350 to $500; the fees payable to the panel chair will increase from $2,000 to $2,500; and
- Attorney fees are capped at 32% of any recovery (up from 15%).
Here is a link to the new changes: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2016/bills/senate/28#document-977d41a7