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What Is The Process Of Filling A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit In Indiana?

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Indiana is unique compared to most other states because one must follow specific processes and time restrictions. Indiana requires cases seeking over $15,000 in damages to undergo a lengthy pretrial review by a medical review panel before proceeding to court. This panel process can add significant time to resolving a medical malpractice claim, hence the need for legal representation from an Indiana medical malpractice lawyer.

At Garau Germano, P.C., we offer top-tier medical malpractice representation. Since 1997, we have been representing Indianapolis clients who have suffered serious physical or economic injuries due to the negligent or intentional acts of others. Our dedicated attorney team operates on a no-win, no-fee basis, ensuring you won’t incur fees unless we secure compensation for you.

Requesting The Formation Of A Medical Review Panel

The first step in any Indiana medical malpractice case is to submit a “proposed complaint” to the Indiana Department of Insurance requesting the formation of a medical review panel. The panel is formed upon request by either party after at least 20 days from filing a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance.

This filing must include:

  • Medical records and evidence supporting the malpractice allegations
  • Statement of the applicable standard of care that was allegedly violated
  • List of qualified health care providers who should serve on the panel

The filing kicks off the pretrial medical review panel process unique to Indiana medical malpractice cases.

What The Medical Review Panel Does

Once the proposed complaint is filed, a medical review panel of one attorney and three qualified health care providers will be formed to review the evidence and allegations. This panel will:

  • Receive evidence and submissions from both sides
  • Hold hearings where each side can make arguments and present witnesses
  • Review all medical records and relevant evidence
  • Issue a written opinion on whether the defendant’s health care provider failed to meet the applicable standard of care.

Following their review, the panel has 180 days to issue an expert opinion on whether the evidence supports the medical malpractice claim.

Submitting Evidence To The Medical Review Panel

Once the medical review panel is assembled, prepare to submit a comprehensive evidence package, including:

  • Medical charts
  • X-rays
  • Laboratory tests
  • Excerpts of treatises
  • Depositions of witnesses

The winning party pays the panel fee. It is also important to note that a panel decision favoring the health care provider doesn’t prevent you from seeking an out-of-court settlement or pursuing a lawsuit. Our skilled malpractice attorney can help gather strong evidence to convince the panel that your case is valid.

What Happens After The Panel Makes A Decision?

After the medical review panel issues its opinion, the plaintiff has a limited time frame of 90 days to decide whether to proceed with officially filing a lawsuit in court. The steps after the panel decision include:

  • Review panel findings and decide on the next steps
  • If proceeding, file an official complaint in state or federal court to initiate the lawsuit
  • Engage in pretrial discovery, depositions and preparation for trial
  • Await court scheduling for mediation, settlement negotiations or trial date

It’s important to note that even after the panel renders its decision, medical malpractice cases in Indiana still face caps on damages that can be awarded.

Timeline For An Indiana Medical Malpractice Case

According to the Indiana Code section 34-18-7-1, you must file a medical malpractice claim within two years after the medical error allegations. With the added medical review panel process, most Indiana medical malpractice cases take significantly longer to work through the legal system compared to other states. A general timeline may look like this:

  • 4-8 months: Request panel formation and evidence submission
  • 6-12 months: Panel review, hearings and final decision
  • 2-6 months: Initiate court filing if proceeding after panel
  • 12-24 months: Pretrial process, mediation/negotiation and potential trial

The entire process for an Indiana medical malpractice case can take 2-3 years or more to fully resolve from the initial filing through either settlement or trial. The medical review panel, in particular, adds considerable delays that are unique to these types of cases in Indiana.

We Understand Indiana Medical Negligence Lawsuits Requirements And Procedures

While the panel process adds challenges, you may still be entitled to compensation for any damages due to improper medical care or treatment. Our Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers, who frequently handle these cases, can help navigate the system as efficiently as possible.

Time limits do apply, so promptly taking legal action is advisable. Contact Garau Germano, P.C., through 317-978-9973 or use our online form to schedule a free initial consultation with our Indianapolis legal team. You can discuss your situation and learn more about pursuing a claim in Indiana.