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Challenge Against Malpractice Caps Continues in Indiana

A couple in Evansville couple is continuing their decade-long legal fight over their claims of medical malpractice in their daughter’s birth that left her a quadriplegic and unable to speak.

A Vanderburgh County jury awarded the family $15 million in damages in in 2013 for their lawsuit against a doctor and St. Mary’s Medical Center of Evansville. Crystal and Jamie Bobbitt have not received any of that money and their attorneys are challenging the constitutionality of the state of Indiana’s malpractice damage cap of $1.25 million.

An expert hired for the lawsuit’s trial estimated lifetime care for 12-year-old daughter, Juliann Bobbitt, will cost between $8 million to $10 million according to Terry Noffsinger, an attorney for the Bobbitt family.

Indiana’s malpractice damages cap was enacted in 1975. According to the Indiana State Medical Association, in the state of Indiana, physicians are responsible for only the first $250,000 in damages to any patient for each act of malpractice, but no more than $750,000 total per year. Indiana’s Patient Compensation Fund will then pay any excess over this amount, up to $1 million.

Legal counsel for the state have defended the limit. Vanderburgh County judge is considering the case, with final legal briefs due in early January.

The Bobbitts are also challenging whether damages owed by St. Mary’s Medical Center should be paid from Indiana’s Patient Compensation Fund.

St. Mary’s attorneys have denied the lawsuit’s malpractice claims and maintain the hospital should be covered by the state fund.

Medicaid officials have waived the program’s income requirements so that it can serve as secondary insurance for Juliann. Medicaid will cover expenses including office co-payments, for example. However, if the Bobbitts succeed, and there is any kind of settlement, then they will have to pay Medicaid back. So far, according to Crystal Bobbitt, the family currently owes Medicaid over a half-million dollars for Juliann’s care.

Sadly, the Bobbitt family’s dilemma is not an unusual one. Award caps can cause a real hardship for families who live in states that have them. Opponents for eliminating such caps or overturning them say that taking the caps away will mean more frivolous lawsuits, especially in the area of medical malpractice. They also contend that removing the caps mean that physicians will have to pay higher malpractice premiums as well.

Patients are right to expect excellence from their doctors and other healthcare professionals. Health care providers such as doctors and nurses are held to a set of standards just as any other professional is. Such standards of care insure that every patient gets the best care possible. When this is not provided to patients, that is when the services of an experienced malpractice attorney are essential.

If you or a loved one believes they have suffered as a result of medical malpractice, contact the law offices of Bottar Leone, PLLC today. We will take the time to carefully evaluate your claim. One of our attorneys can then begin the process of getting you and your loved ones the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at our toll free number (888) 979-1689, or at (315) 313-6809, or you may reach us by email at info@bottarlaw.com.