Louisiana’s medical malpractice laws require an experienced hand

Every state has unique laws when it comes to medical malpractice claims.

If you’ve been the victim of malpractice — for example the misdiagnosis of something serious like cancer as something far more benign, like an infected lymph node — there are a few things you should understand about how Louisiana handles malpractice claims.

1. You can’t just file a malpractice case.

You have to get permission from a panel of medical professionals to file a malpractice claim after they’ve agreed that your case has merit.

In the last couple decades, panels have only allowed about 7 percent of the cases presented them to proceed to court.

2. Damages are capped at $500,000 in many cases.

A jury may award you $2 million dollars, but legislative caps on the amount of an award for a medical malpractice case will lower that amount to no more than $500,000. There are sometimes additional awards that come directly from individual providers (if more than one was involved or a lawsuit named both a clinic and a medical provider as defendants).

The state’s Patient Compensation Fund also sometimes provides additional funds — but only if the doctors or hospitals involved are enrolled in the program. It can be very difficult to figure out what your total award really is, after all the legislative action is applied, medical bills are paid and attorney fees are calculated.

3. If you suffer ongoing injuries, the damage cap doesn’t apply.

If your misdiagnosis has caused you ongoing injuries and expenses, there is no limit to the amount of damages you can receive for your future medical coverage.

For example, if a spinal tumor was diagnosed as a benign cyst and you ended up in a wheelchair, your ongoing medical care could be significant — and allow you to recover more in court to provide for your needs.

A misdiagnosis can destroy someone’s chances for a full recovery from their illness and devastate a family. Anyone who has personally suffered a misdiagnosis or who is closely related to someone who has suffered a misdiagnosis should seek legal help as soon as possible in order to discuss his or her rights. Our firm is experienced in handling medical malpractice cases in Louisiana and may be able to help you.