The issue of medical malpractice is always a divisive one. There are good arguments to be made on both sides in terms of a doctor or healthcare professional’s responsibilities, patient-care provider relations, and all the time and money it takes to go through the process. One of the issues the people in the state of Indiana are currently debating is the limits or caps that are placed on the amount of money victims can obtain as the result of a successful medical malpractice lawsuit.
According to the Indiana Business Journal, Republican legislators in the state are introducing a new plan that would raise the current medical malpractice lawsuit settlement cap from $1.25 million to $1.65 million with possible future increases, depending on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
“Not everyone is going to get everything they want,” said Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, the man behind the proposed legislation. “I’m going to try to do what I think is right and fair for all people.”
The people who are least pleased are certainly those in the medical field. At the same time, this step might be a necessary evil of sorts for them. There is a belief that if the changes don’t go through and the cap isn’t raised — it’s been 17 years since the last increase — that there could be a constitutional challenge brought against the cap altogether.
Many states in the U.S. have already adopted this position and allow patients to receive however much compensation a courtroom/jury see fit for restitution.
“The idea of caps should be to protect well meaning doctors who made mistakes that resulted in serious injury, but at the same time not depriving the victim of the doctor’s negligence needed compensation. Medical negligence can result in the destruction of a person’s life, the inability to earn a living, disfigurement, and sometimes death,” said New York Attorney Joseph M. Lichtenstein, who specializes in medical malpractice and birth injury.
Mr. Lichtenstein helped overturn the decades old “maternal forces of labor defense,” a major obstacle in malpractice cases.
He added, “Indiana is trying to balance these competing interests in a fair and reasonable way. The fact is that so long as the doctors can purchase medical malpractice insurance for the full amount of the cap (which should not be a problem at the levels being proposed) the doctor’s face no personal or professional risk. While, as champions of the victims of malpractice, we prefer a system without any caps of damages, I believe the Indiana legislature has done a good job in finding a fair balance.”
Caps are meant to protect doctors and reduce the likelihood of lawsuits overall, but at the end of the day, there is the serious matter of an individual being harmed or even killed as a result of negligence or a mistake.