Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals all have a duty to provide a certain level of care to their patients. While not every adverse patient event will be a basis for a lawsuit, when someone is injured due to negligently provided medical care, they may be able to recover compensation for their injuries through an Indiana medical malpractice lawsuit.
These cases are unique in that they are subject to additional requirements over and above other Indiana personal injury lawsuits. For example, Indiana Code section 34-18-8-4 states that an Indiana medical malpractice plaintiff must first file a complaint with a medical review board prior to filing the lawsuit in a court of law.
Once the complaint is filed, a panel of four (consisting of one qualified attorney who practices in that area of the law and three qualified health care providers) will review the claim and determine whether it has merit. If the claim is determined to have merit, the plaintiff will be allowed to file a lawsuit, and the results of the claim will be admissible at trial. However, the results will not necessarily dictate the outcome of the case, since the defendant will also be able to present a defense if there is one.
If a plaintiff fails to file a claim with the medical review board, or she fails to comply with any other requirement, the case will be dismissed before it is heard. However, not all cases that involve injuries occurring at hospitals or doctor’s offices are considered medical malpractice cases. A recent case out of Florida illustrates the distinction.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was injured when she stepped off an examination table in a doctor’s office. According to the court’s version of the facts, the plaintiff was being seen by a doctor and was asked to step up onto the table. The plaintiff used a sliding step to get up onto the table.
As the doctor was examining the plaintiff, the doctor slid the step back underneath the table. After the examination, the doctor told the plaintiff to go up to the front desk to make a follow-up appointment. The doctor did not slide the step back out, and the plaintiff fell as she attempted to get off the table.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the doctor as well as the medical center. However, the plaintiff failed to comply with the state’s strict statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. However, the case did comply with the general statute of limitations for negligence claims.
The court held that the plaintiff’s case should proceed because it sounded in negligence, rather than medical malpractice. The court explained that the key inquiry was “whether the claim arises out of the rendering of, or the failure to render, medical care or services.”
Here, the court explained that the plaintiff’s injury was more akin to a premises liability lawsuit than a medical malpractice lawsuit. Additionally, the issues presented in the case were not of a medical nature, and neither party would likely need a medical expert witness in order to explain their theory to the jurors. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was permitted to proceed as a general negligence claim.
Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured while at a doctor’s office or hospital, your case may not be subject to the strict requirements of an Indiana medical malpractice lawsuit. These cases are viewed on a case-by-case basis, and just because an injury occurs at a hospital or doctor’s office does not mean you must proceed under a theory of medical malpractice. The skilled Indiana personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse have extensive experience handling both traditional negligence as well as medical malpractice cases, and we know what it takes to be successful on behalf of our clients. Call 888-532-7766 to schedule your free consultation today.
Defense Verdict in Medical Malpractice Case Affirmed Based on Impeached Expert Witness Testimony, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, November 13, 2017
Recreational Use Statute Prevents Plaintiff’s Lawsuit Following Rope-Swing Accident, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, October 25, 2017