How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take in Indiana?
If you have been hurt by a negligent doctor, the case likely seems open-and-shut in your mind. You went to the doctor and you walked out worse off than when you started. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the law, claims are rarely so easy to resolve. Pursuing a medical malpractice case can take time, especially if your potential damages are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Continue reading for a discussion of how long a medical malpractice lawsuit can last in Indiana, and call an Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyer if you or a loved one has been harmed by a negligent medical professional in Indiana.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice
Almost every legal claim has a “statute of limitations,” which is the time limit for pursuing a given legal claim. The length of time differs depending on the state and the nature of the claim. For a typical medical malpractice claim in Indiana, the statute of limitations is two years. Typically, then, a lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the substandard medical care or the last date of an ongoing negligent treatment. The time period may also be “tolled,” or put on hold, under certain circumstances, such as when injuries due to medical malpractice were not discovered until a later date.
If a medical care provider is “qualified” under Indiana law, the victim must first go through an administrative process (discussed below) before filing a lawsuit. That administrative process must be started within two years from the date the malpractice occurred. The administrative procedure will toll the statute of limitations until after the administrative process concludes.
Malpractice Suit Time Frame Varies Depending on Circumstances
Unfortunately, as with most legal questions, the answer to “how long will a medical malpractice case take” is “it depends.” A malpractice lawsuit can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the specific circumstances and the parties involved.
The malpractice process in Indiana typically starts with a complaint submitted to the Indiana Department of Insurance for a “medical review panel.” A panel of healthcare professionals and an attorney will review the evidence and decide whether the physician committed malpractice. Within 90 days after that opinion, the victim can file a lawsuit. The medical review process can be bypassed if (a) the victim and the defendant agree to skip the process or (b) the plaintiff is seeking less than $15,000 in damages.
The lawsuit itself can take several years depending on the claim. If the claim is relatively straightforward and the defendant knows they messed up (such as if the doctor left a medical instrument inside the plaintiff after surgery), the case might be settled rather quickly. Smaller claims for low amounts of damages are also likely to be resolved much more quickly.
If, however, the claim is complex, and the negligence of the physician is more complicated, then the case can take much longer. Both parties may need to retain multiple experts to opine as to whether the physician should have acted differently, whether the physician’s conduct actually harmed the patient, and how much damage the physician’s conduct actually caused. The victim’s health and medical history may come into play, extending the document “discovery” process even further. If the defendant refuses to settle and the case goes all the way to trial, the case is likely to continue for anywhere from two to three years. Talk to a seasoned medical malpractice trial attorney about your claim to get a reasonable estimate about the time frame for pursuing your claim.
Trusted Help With Your Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Injury Claim
If you or someone you love has been injured by a negligent healthcare professional in Indiana, contact the dedicated and experienced Indianapolis medical malpractice lawyers at Lee Cossell & Feagley, LLP for a free consultation on your case at 316-631-5151.