Were you seriously injured by a medical professional? Thinking about filing a lawsuit? Before getting to the courthouse, you first need to think about Indiana’s statute of limitations.
A “statute of limitations” is a law that sets a deadline by which a lawsuit must be filed. Indiana has a special statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. The medical malpractice statute of limitations in Indiana is two years from the date of the injury.
If the injured patient was a child under the age of six, the lawsuit may be filed any time before the child’s eighth birthday. However, there are no additional extensions simply because the child was a minor at the time of the medical malpractice.
In this blog post, our Indiana medical malpractice lawyers provide an overview of the Indiana medical malpractice statute of limitations. We’ll walk you through the restrictions on filing a medical malpractice lawsuit and resources to help ensure you file your claim on time.
Can the Indiana Statute of Limitations Keep Me From Filing a Lawsuit?
Unfortunately, the medical malpractice statute of limitations in Indiana has kept worthy claims out of court. The rationale behind a short statute of limitations makes sense (i.e., so that other conditions cannot be blamed on an innocent provider years after the fact). But sometimes it takes years for medical malpractice to come to light.
For example, if a negligent misdiagnosis leads to the progression of illness with a long latency period, a victim may not even know of the medical negligence before the limitations period has expired. For this reason, many states use the “discovery rule” in medical malpractice cases.
What is the Discovery Rule?
In states where the “discovery rule” is in effect, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Indiana does not begin to run immediately. Instead, it begins when patients “discover” (or should have discovered) the alleged medical negligence and the resulting injury.
Indiana’s courts apply some version of the discovery rule. Sometimes, a patient simply couldn’t have discovered medical malpractice until after the statute of limitations had run.
In these cases, Indiana courts have held that it would violate the state’s constitution to prevent those patients from filing lawsuits. When that happens, the courts allow a full two-year statute of limitations to run from the moment of discovery of the injury.
However, if there is still time left on the two-year medical malpractice statute of limitations in Indiana and a patient discovers medical malpractice, the courts are not as kind.
The courts expect that a patient will file an Indiana medical malpractice claim as soon as “reasonable,” and they do not provide any additional time to file.
This is why it is important to speak to an Indiana medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible if you believe you’re the victim of medical negligence. Your ability to file a lawsuit may depend upon it.
Contact an Indiana Medical Malpractice Lawyer for Help
What is a Medical Panel Review?
Who Needs a Medical Panel Review?
While the strict, two-year statute of limitations has kept many worthy claims out of court, frivolous medical malpractice claims still find their way before Indiana judges. To weed out frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits, many states, including Indiana, require a showing of proof at the outset. This helps establish the validity of your claim.
In fact, Indiana requires most injured patients to go through this complex and time-consuming process. This is known as a medical panel review. It must be completed before a lawsuit can get to court.
If you have more than $15,000 in damages, you will need to file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance before the expiration of the medical malpractice statute of limitations in Indiana. This complaint kicks off the medical review process.
What is the Review Process?
In a medical panel review, both you and the defendant select the panel. Typically, the panel consists of three medical or health care professionals and a non-voting attorney chairperson. After selecting the panel, each side submits evidence for review.
Evidence can consist of transcripts, depositions, expert testimony, or whatever the panel will allow. After all the evidence is submitted, both you and the defendant may request a meeting of the panel and can question the panelists.
Within 30 days of reviewing all the evidence, the panel will issue one of three expert opinions:
- The evidence does or does not support a conclusion that the defendant failed to meet the applicable standard of care when treating or diagnosing you;
- The defendant’s conduct was or was not a factor in causing you harm and, if it was, whether and to what extent you suffered a disability or permanent impairment; or
- There is a significant factual question that doesn’t require an expert opinion but should be decided by a judge or jury.
The panel’s opinion cannot prevent you from proceeding with a lawsuit. However, it may be admitted as evidence in a subsequent trial in your lawsuit, just like any other evidence.
The panelists may also be called to testify as witnesses. Talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Indiana as soon as possible if you find yourself going through the medical review process.
Will the Medical Panel Review Process Affect the Running of the Statute of Limitations?
Typically, the medical review process generally will not negatively affect the limitation period. Once the review process begins, the medical malpractice statute of limitations in Indiana is tolled, or paused, until the review is complete.
After the review is done, claimants usually have 90 days to file a lawsuit once the panel’s opinion has been issued. In some situations, parties mutually choose to waive the review process altogether.
Indiana also offers this option in some circumstances. In all these cases, the medical panel review cannot affect the status of your case under the medical malpractice statute of limitations.
How Gerling Law Injury Attorneys Can Help
Gerling Law’s team of dedicated, client-focused personal injury attorneys understands Indiana’s medical malpractice statute of limitations. We get our filings in front of the judge right on time.
We can also help you navigate the sometimes complex world of medical malpractice claims in Indiana. Let us be your trusted partner as you handle some of the most difficult challenges you’ll ever face.
Go with Experience. Go with Gerling. ®