This past week there was a bill up for a vote in the Indiana Senate that aimed to reform the existing medical malpractice law. The bill was going to raise the amount someone can collect for a single malpractice incident in Indiana. The current limit is set at $1.25 million, which was set in 1999. There has been an increase in the cost of medical services and procedures over the 16 years and the limit hasn’t been increased.
National Average Limit
In the United States, Indiana has one of the highest limits for medical malpractice cases compared to other states that have limits. There are currently 14 of the 50 states that do not have limits on the amount plaintiffs can collect. These states are decided through their state constitution or haven’t had legislation to set a limit. The states with the lowest limits are Texas, Montana, Kansas and California with a non-economic limit at $250,000.
Each state has different limits depending on the following:
- If the medical malpractice was wilful/reckless negligence then there is no limit
- Increases limit depending on the severity of the negligence
- Wrongful death cases can increase limit
The Indiana bill failed to pass this past week. There was a breakdown in communication between the trial lawyers, hospital representatives, and doctors. The opposition stems from concern that raising the cap on medical malpractice would drive up costs for doctors. One state implemented steps to increase the cap along with future inflation. Other states have set amounts and increase the cap every year.
Constitutionality of a Cap
The issue of the constitutionality of these caps on what plaintiffs can receive after a medical malpractice dispute is being disputed in various states. The Missouri Supreme Court found their cap unconstitutional in 2012. Missouri reinstated another version that considers medical malpractice actions as statutory rather than common law causes of action. In Indiana people are questioning the $1.25 million cap as unconstitutional because there isn’t a mechanism to account for inflation each year, similar to other states legislation.