December 15, 2017
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Question:

How long does it take to prosecute a medical malpractice case in Indiana?

Answer:

This is difficult to precisely answer because there are many variables that can come into play.  As a starting point, it can often take several months or longer in order to obtain the necessary medical records and conduct the the necessary investigation required just in order to evaluate whether a case may be filed.  Once the decision has been made to file, the length of time depends, in part, upon whether the case is one that is governed by Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act.  Most medical malpractices cases in Indiana are governed by the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act, which contains many provisions which benefit the healthcare provider defendants to the detriment of the patient.  One of those provisions prohibits the claimant in most instances from filing suit and proceeding in court against the defendant healthcare provider until after a “proposed complaint” has been filed with the Indiana Department of Insurance, and a medical review panel composed of 3 fellow healthcare providers renders an opinion as to the merit of the claim against their peer.  This process alone can typically take at least 9 months, and often more than a year if the case requires significant discovery, including the taking of depositions of witnesses.  Cases that do not fall under the Medical Malpractice Act, may be filed in court without having to first obtain a medical review panel opinion.  Either way, once the case is filed in court, the length of time until one may obtain trial depends upon the court’s schedule.  It is not uncommon for cases to be set for trial more than a year after the case is filed with the court.  It should be noted, however, that many times the parties involved will reach a settlement of the case prior to the trial date.  That said, not all cases are settled; and, anyone wanting to pursue a medical malpractice case must be prepared for the case to go to trial — which may take several years or more from the time the decision is made to pursue the case.

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