I was speaking to an attorney friend who lives in Indianapolis the other day and he told me that he was looking for medical malpractice clients. I was confused because almost no lawyers have taken those cases on in Indiana. The reason for that is that Indiana has severe damage caps. At last check the most you could get on a case was $1.25 million. So if you make $100,000 a year in your job, are 35 years old and healthy and then become brain dead due to an anesthesia error in a simple surgery that will cause you to need 24 hour medical care the rest of your life, $1.25 million was the max that could be recovered. After that it's likely that tax payers would foot the bill for your treatment.
As a result, if your case wasn't an absolute slam dunk, getting an attorney to take it on was impossible. With damage caps so low and the cost of going to trial so high, insurance companies had nothing to lose by forcing cases to a hearing.
What I learned from my friend is good news and brings Indiana in to the 20th Century although they have a ways to go to get to modern times. Caps were raised this year to $1.65 million and next year will be raised to $1.8 million. It's still ridiculous to have these caps and insurance companies will still fight most cases, but the caps are getting big enough that more cases will be worth pursuing. It still screws the little guy and eventually the tax payers, but something for victims of medical negligence is better than nothing at all.
Illinois has a much fairer system as it leaves damages to be a question for the jury. These are very hard cases to win and despite cries from insurance companies, the truth is that they win 80% of the cases that go to trial in "plaintiff friendly" Cook County. Attorneys are very selective on the cases that they bring and I can tell you from experience that we outright reject about 90% of the calls that come in because most cases are bad treatment without bad damages or bad damages without negligence.
Either way, it's a welcome to see our neighbors to the east progress a bit and hopefully some day their citizens will have 21st Century rights.