Although health care professionals must follow strict standards of care, errors sometimes happen. Whether you are misdiagnosed, given the wrong prescription, or are otherwise harmed through the actions of a medical professional, you have the right to seek damages. Retain an experienced attorney as soon as you suspect that medical malpractice occurred. Here is some general information about medical malpractice in Texas.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when medical negligence leads to a patient being harmed. It is important to note that without proving negligence, you cannot prove malpractice. Medical negligence is based on the concept of “standard of care,” which can be loosely defined as the prevailing treatment methods used by other medical professionals in the state. Note that the standard of care may include multiple treatment options, and it may vary according to the patient’s age and overall state of health.
Statute of Limitations and Statute of Repose
In Texas, the statute of limitations (SOL) for medical malpractice is two years from the date that the injury was discovered or should reasonably have been discovered. In addition, the statute of repose (SOR) states that you may not file a claim more than 10 years from the date that the negligent treatment was performed. There are certain specific circumstances that may toll (stop) the clock, but in general it is best to assume that your lawsuit must be filed within the two year SOL and the 10 year SOR.
Of course, medical professionals carry malpractice insurance. Some providers are inclined to settle quickly, within the limits of their malpractice insurance. However, without an experienced attorney on your side, it is difficult to know whether the settlement offer is fair and reasonable, or if it will cover all expenses that you may face due to your injury. Always have a skilled medical malpractice attorney look over any settlement offer you receive.
Medical Malpractice Damage Awards
A damage award is a monetary award designed to compensate you for your injuries. In Texas, there is no cap on the amount of economic damages you can be awarded, but non-economic damages are capped.
Economic damages include your actual medical bills and lost wages. You can recover up to the full amount of money you spent, or will spend, and lost, or will lose, due to your injury.
Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and the like. In Texas, you can claim no more than $250,000 per medical provider and no more than $500,000 total in non-economic damages. For example, your injury might have been caused by a doctor during a hospital stay. The most you could claim would be $250,000 from the doctor and $250,000 from the hospital, for a total of $500,0000. This is true even if more than two providers were involved in your injury, though in this case you might choose to claim less than the $250,000 from each provider, for a grand total of $500,000 among all providers.
Before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas, you must first send written notice of your claim to each health care provider you plan to name in the suit. This must be sent at least 60 days before filing your suit, via certified mail, return receipt requested.
In addition, you must submit an expert report from a qualified medical professional to the court within 120 days following your filing date. Your case will likely be dismissed if this report is not received on time.