Michigan City Indiana medical malpractice lawyer discusses a recent Illinois medical malpractice verdict of $15.5 million dollars for the death of a patient during childbirth and why it wouldn't be the same in Indiana
A 33 year old mother of one died in 2008 while giving birth to her second child at the University of Chicago Hospital. There were a number of allegations of negligence that had to do with a condition known as placenta accreta.
Placenta accreta happens when the placenta begins to grow through the wall of the mother's uterus. The problem with placenta accreta is that during birth the placenta will tear the uterine wall and cause a large amount of blood. Nothing can really be done about the condition before the birth of the child.
In this case, an allegation against the maternal-fetal specialist (perinatologist) was that he failed to report the presence of the condition on an ultrasound that was taken two months before the mother was due. The plaintiff also had an allegation that the OB who handled the case should have done a second ultrasound before the c-section. If a patient has placenta accreta, a whole team of specialists need to present during the birth process to handle the issues that arise.
The jury deliberated 6 hours before it awarded the $15.5 million verdict.
What would happen in Indiana?
If this incident occurred 25 miles away – say in Hammond, Indiana or any other place in Indiana, the judge would reduce the verdict from $15.5 million to $1.25 million. Why is this? Because the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act has a statutory limit on medical malpractice verdicts of $1.25 million – no matter what a jury says.
The law reads like this:
IC 34-18-14-3 – Recovery limitations
Sec. 3. (a) The total amount recoverable for an injury or death of a patient may not exceed the following:
(1) Five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) for an act of malpractice that occurs before January 1, 1990.
(2) Seven hundred fifty thousand dollars ($750,000) for an act of malpractice that occurs:
(A) after December 31, 1989; and
(B) before July 1, 1999.
(3) One million two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($1,250,000) for an act of malpractice that occurs after June 30, 1999.
Nobody wants to be a victim of medical malpractice and nobody thinks of these issues before they undergo a medical procedure or while receiving medical treatment. But it is certainly better for the medical malpractice victim to be injured in Illinois than Indiana. The Illinois legislature has tried to limit damages on a number of occasions and the Illinois courts have found the limits unconstitutional, which is not the case in Indiana.