Louisiana Medical Malpractice Laws
Seeking medical care can be incredibly stressful. In our most vulnerable moments, when we are in ill health, we must trust strangers to treat us properly. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to be sure we’ll receive the proper standard of care due to financial barriers to resources.
Spencer Calahan Injury Lawyers have seen a wide variety of medical malpractice cases throughout Louisiana, and know just how frightening they can be. Check out the following laws you need to know before you sue.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a form of negligence that occurs when patients are not given the appropriate standard of care. The actions (or inactions) of physicians result in harm to the patient.
The most common types of medical malpractice cases include the following:
- Hospital-related infections
- Medical misdiagnosis
- Failure to diagnose
- Surgery errors
- Childbirth injuries
Louisiana’s Statute of Limitations
In most legal cases, the state will set a statute of limitations. This is the amount of time you have to sue after suffering an injury or loss. Depending on the suit you want to file, these deadlines can vary.
For medical malpractice lawsuits, Louisiana’s Revised Statutes decrees that anyone planning to file a medical malpractice lawsuit must do so within a year of the incident.
There is an exception. Because medical malpractice isn’t always immediately evident, there’s a discovery rule that clarifies that the case must be filed within a year of the patient’s discovery of the incident. The trouble with this rule is that you must be able to prove when you discovered the incident and explain why you didn’t find out immediately.
Every medical malpractice suit, under Louisiana law, must be filed at the latest within a period of three years from the date of the alleged act, omission, or neglect. This is called the statute of repose. Regardless of the severity of the medical error, or the impact it had on the patient, the statute of repose will not allow a case to be filed after three years of the act.
If a plaintiff submits a review from a Louisiana medical review panel (which the state will often require before a case is filed), the timer on the case is paused. Talk to your lawyer if you’re worried about acting within state time limits.
Medical Review Panels in Louisiana
Louisiana requires that injured patients submit a proposed complaint to a medical review panel before filing a lawsuit. The panel must discuss the validity of your claim before the case can proceed.
There are a few exceptions to the rule, but they are rare and best discussed with an attorney.
Requesting this review must be done before the statute of limitations is up. The statute of limitations will be suspended while you await the panel’s response, unless:
- You fail to pay the $100 fee for medical review within forty-five days
- You don’t qualify for the fee to be waived
The medical panel itself comprises three licensed healthcare professionals and an attorney. Evidence is submitted by the injured patient and the defendant. This evidence may include reports from experts, relevant medical records, and transcripts of depositions.
The medical panel’s duty is to review the evidence and decide if the defendant met the proper standard of care when treating the injured patient. Following discussion, the panel writes a report, which must include the professionals’ reasoning for their decisions in addition to any other findings that support their decisions.
After the panel issues its opinions, the statute of limitations is still paused for ninety days. As long as the filing deadline hasn’t expired, you will be free to file your lawsuit.
The panelists may be called as witnesses if the injured patient chooses to move forward with the lawsuit process.
Damages in Louisiana Medical Malpractice Cases
Louisiana caps the damages available from a medical malpractice case. Even if the defending physician is found guilty, Louisiana’s Revised Statute specifies that damages are not to exceed $500,000. The only exception is the costs of subsequent medical care are not included in that sum.
Because medical malpractice cases are incredibly complex and specific to each individual case, it is wise to discuss the individual aspects of your case with a medical malpractice lawyer.
Get the Help You Need Understanding State Laws
If you or someone you love has been injured by the negligence of a Louisiana physician, know that you have options. Spencer Calahan Injury Lawyers are ready to fight for you.
We offer free case reviews to those seeking answers for their medical malpractice claims. When you’re ready to reach out for your free consultation, call 225-387-2323 or fill out the following online contact form.