Louisiana medical malpractice laws
Louisiana approved a law on medical malpractice in 1975 that was both sweeping and comprehensive in nature. In the state of Louisiana, there are two categories for medical malpractice claims. Those are claims against healthcare providers that are public or state based and claims against healthcare providers who engage in private practice. The MMA, or the Medical Malpractice Act is what governs all claims related to private healthcare providers.
In contrast, the MLSS, or the Malpractice Liability for State Services Act, is what governs claims against state or public providers of healthcare. It is through these laws that all other laws, policies, and procedures apply when claims of medical malpractice are brought before citizens or organizations within the state of Louisiana.
Louisiana malpractice law, whether it pertains to public and state or private healthcare providers, stipulates that no more than $500,000 can be brought against qualified healthcare providers, including both future and past expenses of a medical nature. Not only non-economic damages such as suffering and pain are covered within this cap but so are lost wages claims.
The Qualified Healthcare Provider definition is a very broad one such that close to every single kind of entity or individual responsible for the provision of healthcare to people within the state is covered.
In order for a healthcare provider to be described as a provider that is “qualified”, in most situations the provider will need to contribute premiums into the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund. However, if healthcare providers elect not to join into the Compensation Fund by refusing to pay its premiums, then the provider will not be privy to the medical malpractice act’s benefits.
The most significant of these benefits is the damage cap. To put it another way, healthcare providers that are not part of the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund can be sued for any amount not limited to the $500,000 cap. The cap itself, however, does not scale up with increases related to inflation, which means that the total amount is worth less today in real dollars than it originally was when it was incepted in 1975.
Statute of Limitations
In Louisiana, the Statute of Limitations is known as the Prescriptive Period; it essentially sets a limit after which suits cannot be brought related to medical malpractice against a healthcare professional or provider. In other words, a medical review panel’s formation must be requested within one year from when the potential incident of medical malpractice may have occurred. This is not simply the date when the negligence possibly occurred but also the date when the patient should have known that a negligent act might have occurred.
Regardless of the circumstances involved, claims cannot be brought in excess of three years from when the suspected malpractice occurred. When wrongful death claims are made, the statute of limitations does not exceed one year from the date of death.
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