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Can I Recover Compensation from the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund?

Published on Apr 23, 2024 at 8:18 pm in Medical Malpractice.

Can I Recover Compensation from the Louisiana Patient's Compensation Fund?

Have you fallen victim to medical malpractice?

If so, then you likely understand all too well how a doctor or another practitioner’s error can not only cause you to experience health setbacks but bring unexpected medical and other costs — expenses that you may not be able to afford.  

The costs you’ve incurred may have motivated you to look into options to service your debts and afford your household bills.  

If you’ve discovered and are wondering if you can recover compensation from the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF), we’ll highlight the requirements to do so below. 

Why the PCF Was Created 

The “fund,” as it’s sometimes referred to, was created in 1975. Louisiana Revised Statutes, and specifically RS 40:1231.4, is the section of state law that describes it.  

This fund is often lauded as our state’s “answer” to ever-increasing malpractice insurance premiums medical providers typically have to pay that often make going into or operating a private practice too costly. It was established to provide participating or qualifying private health care providers in Louisiana with a guaranteed and affordable way to secure medical malpractice coverage.  

While increased affordability of coverage is one reason for this fund’s existence, for many, it ends up serving the role of “excess insurer” to these practitioners per the Louisiana Division of Administration (DOA).  

While medical providers must assume financial responsibility for the first $100,000 of a claim by having malpractice insurance or by paying a security deposit, the PCF functions as part of an umbrella plan and covers up to an additional $400,000 in losses that a claimant may request. 

According to the DOA, most of our state’s health care providers pay a surcharge that allows them to enjoy the benefits that come with enrollment in this compensation fund.  

How Does the Fund Impact You as a Victim of Medical Malpractice? 

If you suffered harm at a health care provider’s hands, then you’re generally entitled to compensation for your losses, including: 

  • Medical bills 
  • Lost wages 
  • Physical impairment 
  • Emotional distress 
  • Other damages you claim 

If your losses sustained by a medical provider’s negligence are so significant that they exceed that standard $100,000 malpractice limit or self-insured surcharge, you’d be able to recoup up to $400,000 more in losses if they were participants in the PCF.  

As you can likely tell, this can make a big difference in terms of the quality of care you receive and your ability to regain some kind of financial footing, especially since the combination of ever-increasing medical costs and loss of pay can be particularly debilitating. 

Filing a Claim With the Patient’s Compensation Fund 

The DOA Frequently Asked Questions provide insight into how you’d go about requesting compensation from the fund. The steps you’d take include: 

Step #1: Filing a Medical Review Panel Request for Malpractice 

In a DOA document about how to file a medical malpractice complaint, it says that the filing must occur via standard mail or by fax with them, NOT the PCF itself. That filing needs to include patient and provider details along with a description of the malpractice and injuries alleged.  

The filing fee is $100 per provider named. You can expect to receive notification from the PCF about whether the named defendants qualify for the panel process and, indeed, are covered by the fund within 15 days of receipt of your medical review panel request. 

Step #2: The Claimant and Defendant Must Agree on an Attorney Chairman 

An explanation of the medical panel review process outlines how this step occurs after the filing of the panel request, a defendant is deemed qualified, and you pay the $100 filing fee.  

Both parties must mutually agree on an attorney chairman and appoint them to that role within a year of the filing date. Once selected, it’s the parties’ responsibility to notify the PCF who the appointee is so they can notify them of the same. 

Step #3: Health Care Provider Members Are Selected 

The plaintiff has an opportunity to select first, and the defendant can make their selection within 15 days of receiving notification of the opposing party’s choice. The attorney chairman will make the choice on either party’s behalf if they fail to do so within five days of receipt of a notice to do so.  

It’s the responsibility of the attorney chairman to notify the primary care provider (PCP) of the panel members once the selections have been made.  

Step #4: Opposing Parties Should Submit Evidence to the Attorney Chairman 

The parties and their legal representatives should submit evidence for the panel to consider to the attorney chairman in writing, who will then distribute that information to anyone else necessary. 

Step #5: The Plaintiff and Defendant Questions the Panel 

This informal opportunity occurs before the panel issues its report and is presided over by the attorney chairman. 

Step #6: The Panel Issues a Written Report 

In that report, which the panel should issue within 30 days of reviewing the evidence, it should outline one of three conclusions in writing: 

  • The evidence suggests that the defendants breached the standard of care they owed their patients 
  • The evidence doesn’t support the conclusion that the defendant violated their standard of care 
  • There’s a “material issue of fact” not necessitating an expert to weigh in on it that impacts liability that the court should assess 

Step #7: The Attorney Chairman Submits the Panel Report to the PCF 

The chairman has an obligation to submit the report to opposing parties and the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund within five days after the panel reaches its decision and must do so by certified mail.  

Their report becomes evidence in the case, and it is possible for panel members to be asked to testify in court because of this. 

How a Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help You If You’re Considering Requesting Compensation 

As you can likely surmise by reviewing the filing steps above, your ability to recover compensation from the Louisiana Patient’s Compensation Fund is largely contingent upon: 

  • The allegations you forward 
  • Evidence you can produce to support your position that malpractice occurred 
  • The medical panel’s agreement that you have a valid claim 

As with most legal scenarios, there are exceptions to the requirements described above. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will be able to advise you on what steps you can expect after completing the ones described above.  

Consider contacting our Baton Rouge law firm, Bianca | Matkins to discuss the potential viability of any medical malpractice claim you’re planning to file against a healthcare provider and whether the legal course of action described above is the best approach.  

Consulting with one of our attorneys is free. 

Free Case Review

Call us or fill out the form below to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation where we’ll hear your story and help you understand your legal options, advising you on what steps you can take next. If we can help with the next steps required, we will be happy to do so.

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