In a medical malpractice action, a plaintiff must establish three elements:
1. The defendants’ duty in relation to the plaintiff;
2. The defendants’ failure to conform its conduct to the requisite standard of care; and
3. An injury to the plaintiff resulting from that failure.
The plaintiff must prove by expert testimony that the defendant was negligent and that the defendant’s negligence proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury.
In Indiana, prior to commencing an action in state court, a plaintiff must file a Proposed Complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance. After discovery, each party tenders a submission in support of and in defense against Plaintiff’s claims. The Medical Review Panel – consisting of one attorney and three healthcare providers selected by the parties – renders an opinion on two issues. First, whether the defendant’s conduct breached the standard of care applicable to that defendant, and second, whether the conduct complained of caused or contributed to the plaintiff’s alleged damages.
The Indiana Court of Appeals has held that where there is a unanimous panel determination made in favor of the defendant and no countervailing expert opinion exists, motion for summary judgment is proper. Where the medical review panel’s opinion is unanimously in favor of a healthcare provider defendant’s care on the issues of standard of care and/or causation, it “is sufficient to negate the existence of a genuine issue of material fact,” when a plaintiff has not provided countervailing expert testimony. In order to survive a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff must present countervailing evidence as to those particular elements for which the defendants “addressed and presented evidence.” In the absence of any expert opinion, there is no genuine triable issue and the Defendants are entitled to a summary judgment.
This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.