Truck Accident Multimillion-Dollar Settlement.

"M.A.," a 30-year-old man, was driving to work in New Mexico. Suddenly a commercial truck veered across the center line and struck his vehicle head on. M.A. died at the scene. The McNeely Stephenson firm was hired shortly after the crash to represent the family of the deceased.

our client results

What is the Medical Standard of Care

Medical and legal terms can be confusing and strange. “Whose standard and what care,” you might ask. Simply put, the “medical standard of care” for a set of symptoms or an illness means the appropriate medical response to the symptoms or illness, as it is defined by the medical professionals who practice in the field. It is a set of minimum standards for acceptable patient care, and it is not generally what is known as average care.

“Medical standard of care” is an important legal definition used in medical malpractice cases. In legal documents and in court, the standard of care is compared to a practitioner’s actions, providing the basis for a medical malpractice suit. If it can be shown that the physician did not follow the standard of care for the particular medical situation, questions of negligence can arise, and the physician could be found guilty of malpractice.

The standards of care used are usually national ones, but sometimes local limitations come into play, such as the lack of availability of certain medical facilities or services. Additionally, different standards can be set for specialists than for general practitioners.

Medical standards can be derived not only from medical professionals practicing in the field, but also from medical texts and journals, medical and nursing school teachings, and even clinical trials. Medical practitioners can have differing views regarding standard of care, and standards can change over time.

Common Violations of Medical Standards of Care

When malpractice is suspected, there are a number of ways in which a standard of care can be breached. Some of the more usual ones include:

  • Misdiagnosis, inappropriate delay in diagnosis, or failure to diagnose
  • Medication mistakes, including inappropriate medications, or proper medications given at inappropriate dosages
  • Surgical errors, including instruments and sponges left inside a patient
  • Failure to administer appropriate care when the diagnosis is correct
  • Failure to inform the patient of treatment risks
  • Delay in treatment
  • Birth injuries
  • Not referring a patient to a specialist when it is called for.

As you can see from this partial list, the medical standard of care can be violated in many ways.

Medical Standard of Care, Negligence, and Medical Malpractice

Negligence cannot always be equated with a medical treatment causing injury. Nor do mistakes in judgment that violate the standard of care necessarily mean negligence was the reason. However, in a medical malpractice suit, one must show that breaching the standard of care was what caused the patient’s injury.

Typically, in addition to demonstrating that the medical standard of care was violated, one must also be able to prove the following in a medical malpractice case:

  • The patient was injured.
  • The physician or facility being sued was responsible for the patient’s care.
  • The physician or facility being sued caused the injury.

Medical Malpractice Law in Indiana

Indiana was the first state to pass a medical malpractice law, in 1975. Several key features make Indiana’s law different from the laws of other states.

  • Monetary damages are capped for a single act of malpractice at $1.25 million for the injured patient. Physicians are responsible only for the first $250,000 in damages for one finding of malpractice ($750,000 for all findings in the same year). Indiana’s Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF) pays any excess over $250,000, not to exceed $1 million. Therefore, the highest amount of damages an injured patient can be awarded is $1.25 million.
  • There is also a cap on attorneys’ fees, limited to not more than 15 percent of any award from the PCF. No cap exists on attorneys’ fees with regard to cases not brought against qualified providers.
  • Certain physicians are immune from medical malpractice suits, notably those providing care as a volunteer, some varieties of care provided at health care centers and free clinics, and care provided as a “good Samaritan” action.
  • The Indiana statute of limitations requires that all medical malpractice claims be filed within two years of the date of the injury. For example, if you went to the emergency room, and the physician missed a diagnosis that caused you significant harm, you would have only two years to file from the date of the emergency room visit.
  • A few exceptions to the two-year time period exist. For one, a minor under the age of six has a filing limit of his or her eighth birthday. Some statutes detail the procedures which you must observe in order to bring a medical malpractice claim. These statutes can be complex and difficult to comply with, so you might want to consult an attorney.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

When others breach their duty, we keep ours.

Mike Stephenson is a Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated attorney, the highest possible attorney peer rating. When you call Mike, you can have complete confidence that you are talking with an Indiana medical malpractice lawyer with over 30 years’ experience offering compassionate and successful representation for his clients.

What is your next step toward justice? Contact McNeely Stephenson today using our contact form, or call 1-855-206-2555. At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.

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Accidental deaths have hit an all-time high in the U.S., at least since government agencies have kept records on the causes of death. About 466 people die accidental deaths every day in the U.S. – one every three minutes. It’s clearly bad news that highlights so many challenges Americans are currently facing, including an opioid epidemic and the persistent uptick in the number of vehicle crash-related deaths. You might be wondering what ma...


Mike Stephenson is a Super Lawyer in Indiana along with many of his peers at McNeely Stephenson. This is one of the highest honors an attorney can achieve


The AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell is the HIGHEST RATING and considered a significant accomplishment. It is a peer-reviewed process reflecting that other attorneys rank Mike Stephenson at the highest possible level of professional excellence.


Attorney Mike Stephenson is a proud member of The Litigation Counsel of America’s Honorary Society. A close-knit, peer-selected, and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the “best trial lawyers” in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network.


The American Board of Trial Advocates is an invitation-only organization for attorneys of “high personal character and honorable reputation.” ABOTA works for the preservation of the civil jury trial, “Justice by the People,” and supports the right of a jury trial.


The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers. Membership is extended only to the select few of the most qualified attorneys. Indiana attorney Mike Stephenson is proud to be included in this national organization of top trial lawyers.


Our attorneys are proven advocates and trial attorneys. They have served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and have handled litigation in 18 states