Understanding Medical Malpractice: A Beginner’s Guide

Medical malpractice in Indiana

We trust doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers to care for us. When they fail due to negligence, the impact can be devastating. However, holding a negligent healthcare professional accountable for their actions can be challenging without legal representation.

The Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson wants everyone to understand what medical malpractice is and their legal rights. If you suffered harm due to medical malpractice in Indiana, you deserve compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact our office for a free consultation.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is an act or omission by a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider during a patient’s treatment that deviates from the accepted standard of care in the medical community and leads to the patient’s injury or death. The standard of care is typically based on what other medical professionals of the same training would do under similar circumstances. A healthcare provider who deviates from those norms and causes harm may be liable to the injured patient for medical malpractice.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice can take various forms, each potentially causing significant patient harm. Medical malpractice victims may be injured through acts and omissions such as:


Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor incorrectly diagnoses a health condition. Diagnosis errors can lead to incorrect or delayed treatment, worsening the patient’s condition and potentially causing death.

Delayed Diagnosis

In these cases, the doctor makes the correct diagnosis later than they should have. This delayed diagnosis can result in missed treatment opportunities, allowing the condition to progress and potentially cause more harm.

Lack of Informed Consent

Doctors must inform patients about the risks and benefits of treatments, allowing them to make educated decisions about their care. Failure to obtain informed consent from a patient can be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Surgical Errors

Surgical errors can have severe, life-altering consequences for patients. These errors include operating on the wrong body part, performing the wrong procedure, nicking an organ during surgery, or leaving surgical tools inside the patient.

Birth Injuries

These injuries happen during childbirth and can affect both the mother and the baby. Causes can include improper use of delivery tools, failure to monitor the baby’s oxygen levels, or failure to perform a necessary C-section. Birth injuries can result in long-term health issues for the baby.

Importance of Investigating a Medical Malpractice Claim

Indiana medical malpractice

Investigating a medical malpractice claim is crucial to building a compelling case and proving a patient suffered injuries and losses due to negligence. Medical malpractice lawyers can investigate a case and gather and preserve evidence such as:

  • Patient’s Testimony: Attorneys can meet with the client to hear their story and discuss the impact of medical malpractice on their health and well-being.
  • Medical Records: Medical records detail every aspect of a patient’s treatment and often reveal mistakes or oversights by a healthcare professional.
  • Expert Opinions: Testimony from medical experts is crucial in Indiana medical malpractice claims. They offer insight into whether a healthcare provider followed the medical standard of care or if any deviations occurred that led to a patient’s harm.
  • Witness Accounts: Statements from medical staff who worked with the offending healthcare provider or other patients who had bad experiences with the provider can be crucial evidence of the provider’s negligence.
  • Medical History: A medical malpractice attorney can review a patient’s medical history to distinguish between pre-existing health conditions and those resulting from the alleged malpractice.
  • Hospital Procedures Review: In some medical malpractice cases, the issue lies with a particular hospital’s protocols. Investigating these protocols can uncover whether systemic problems contributed to the incident.
  • Communication Analysis: Discussions with health care professionals, including emails and messages, can reveal how a provider handled a patient’s concerns and whether there was a communication breakdown.

At the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson, our medical malpractice lawyers are committed to helping you get the money you need for your future medical bills, lost wages, and other losses. We know that begins with a thorough investigation and will work diligently to identify all parties and factors that contributed to your injuries.

Requirements to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Indiana

Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act governs malpractice claims in the state, so knowing what the law says is vital to building a robust claim. Here’s what you need to know about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Indiana:

Filing with the Panel

Before going to court, the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act requires you to present your case to a medical review panel. This step involves filing a proposed complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance. The panel, usually made up of three physicians, evaluates your case. If your case involves just one healthcare provider, at least two panelists will share the defendant’s specialty. For cases with multiple defendants, the panel will represent the specialties involved.

Function of the Panel

The panel’s job is to examine the evidence you and the other side present and determine whether the healthcare provider met the standard of care or if an error led to your injury.

Impact on Your Lawsuit

The panel’s findings may be crucial evidence in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The report often carries significant weight at trial. After the panel’s review, you can decide whether to file a lawsuit. The panel’s report is admissible in court, meaning both a plaintiff and defendant can use it as evidence. The plaintiff and defendant can also call the panel members as expert witnesses.

Limits on Compensation

State law caps the compensation a person can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The total amount recoverable for an act of malpractice is $1.8 million. Any amount due from a successful medical malpractice claim that exceeds the liability of all healthcare providers comes from the Indiana Patient Compensation Fund, a state-run program to help those injured in instances of medical malpractice.

Deadline to File a Medical Malpractice Case in Indiana

According to Indiana’s statute of limitations, plaintiffs typically have two years from the date of an alleged medical error to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. While there are some exceptions, contacting an attorney immediately after a medical error is crucial to filing your lawsuit on time. The court can dismiss a case filed after the statutory deadline, and you could lose your right to seek compensation.

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney Today for a Free Consultation

If you have questions about a potential malpractice claim or want more information on your legal options, the Law Office of Kelley J. Johnson can provide the answers you need. Call us today or complete our contact form for a complimentary consultation with a medical malpractice attorney.