Efforts to reform Indiana’s medical malpractice law are being met with objections as the state considers the first increase to caps on damages in 17 years. A bill sponsored by Republication Senator Brent Steele proposes to raise the limit on damages that a victim of medical malpractice can receive from $1.25 million to $1.65 million. The $400,000 increase was proposed as part of an attempt by state Republicans to ensure the continued existence of the cap. Six states (Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington) have declared medical malpractice damage caps to be unconstitutional, and some lawmakers in Indiana fear that the state’s current malpractice laws may be struck down in the future. According to the bill’s sponsor, Mr Steele, “[T]here is a real concern that this whole act is going to be declared unconstitutional due to the fact that it no longer addresses the legitimate damages of a claimant in an equitable fashion.” Raising the cap on damages is being touted as a way to be fairer to injured parties while still keeping some rein on the malpractice system in the state.
Not everyone is on board with the change, however. The Indiana State Medical Association has expressed concerns that raising the cap would increase costs for clinicians in the state, and the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association has said that it believes there should never be a cap on damages. “You are minimizing a person’s responsibility for a harm they’ve caused,” said Dan Ladendorf of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association in an article in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. “That just doesn’t seem like a fair measure of justice.”
Mr Steele still believes that the bill should and will pass if there are to be any caps on damages at all. “I don’t know if it’s next session or the session after that,” said Mr Steele, “but everybody knows that the clock is ticking.”