Legal Memorandum: A Medical Malpractice Claim in IN

Issue: What are the restrictions on damages in a wrongful death claim by nondependents under Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Medical malpractice claim; Wrongful death claim; Damages
Jurisdiction: Indiana
Cited Cases: 404 N.E.2d 585; 712 N.E.2d 1064; 718 N.E.2d 753; 677 N.E.2d 551; 273 Ind. 374; 597 N.E.2d 971; 717 N.E.2d 578; 705 N.E.2d 506; 723 N.E.2d 946
Cited Statutes: Ind. Code § 34-18-2-18 (1999); Ind. Code § 34-18-2-22 (1999); Ind. Code § 34-18-14-3 (1999), § 34-18-14-3(a), § 34-18-14-3(b); § 34-18-15-3; Ind. Code § 34-51-4-2 (1999)
Date: 09/01/2000

Under Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act, when health care providers, acting in their professional capacity as providers of medical services, see M.V. v. Charter Terre Haute Behavioral Health Sys., Inc., 712 N.E.2d 1064, 1066 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999), commit a tort or breach of contract based on the health care or professional services that they provided or should have provided a patient, the injured party or representative may maintain a medical malpractice claim.  Ind. Code § 34-18-2-18 (1999).  To succeed in a medical malpractice claim, a party must establish that (1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care; (2) the defendant breached the duty by failing to conform his conduct to the requisite standard of care; and (3) the plaintiff suffered compensable injury that was proximately caused by the defendant’s breach.  Gates v. Riley ex rel. Riley, 723 N.E.2d 946, 950 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), transfer denied, ___ N.E.2d ___ (Ind. May 4, 2000). 

Plaintiffs include all those having a claim of any kind, whether derivative or otherwise, as a result of alleged malpractice on the part of a health care provider.  Ind. Code § 34-18-2-22 (1999).  The Act defines “derivative claims” as those of “a parent or parents, guardian, trustee, child, relative, attorney, or any other representative of the patient including claims for loss of services, loss of consortium, expenses, and other similar claims.”  Id.

The Act provides that before a medical malpractice claim is filed in court, the plaintiff must […]

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