Texas medical malpractice what do I need to know?
Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I had surgery last year. Despite doing ample research and verifying I hired a good physician, mistakes were made. I was seriously injured. I am wondering if I have the legal right to file a medical malpractice claim against the doctor. I don’t want a huge payout. I just need enough compensation and restitution that I can pay for my medical care. What do I need to know about Texas medical malpractice cases?
Issues to understand in Texas medical malpractice cases
- Review the definition of medical malpractice.
The first step before running to a lawyer or deciding to file a Texas medical malpractice claim is to review what constitutes medical malpractice. Not every injury is the result of a doctor’s negligence.
So, what is negligence? Negligence occurs when a doctor, who had a duty of care towards a patient, violates that duty of care, also referred to as “standard of care.” Standard of care, however, is not specifically defined. Generally, it means that a doctor followed accepted treatment standards that another doctor in a similar situation would have followed.
Next, the patient must prove, not only that they are injured and suffered loss (financial, medical, or emotional), but that their injury was the result of the doctor’s negligence. This determination, however, can be difficult given that most patients are sick or injured when they go to the hospital. It can be difficult to prove that their condition worsened due to a doctor’s negligence.
- Texas medical malpractice claims must be filed within a specified time frame.
All states have established a time limit or statute of limitations for filing medical malpractice claims. In Texas, patients who are injured due to the medical negligence of a doctor generally have two year to file their injury claim. The statute of limitations clock, however, may not start running until the patient could have reasonably discovered or should have discovered the injury.
For example, if a doctor left gauze inside of your chest and you did not discover it until six months after surgery, the statute of limitations would not start on the date of surgery but rather on the date of discovery.
Note: Regardless of the discovery date, under the Texas statute of repose, all injury claims must be filed within 10 years of the date of the injury.
- Texas medical malpractice claims have damage caps.
Although it’s a controversial issue, Texas lawmakers have passed laws which cap the non-economic damages (i.e. compensation for stress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment) which can be awarded in Texas medical malpractice claims. The current maximum allowed for noneconomic damages is $250,000. Economic damages which cover expenses such as medical bills and lost wages, however, are not capped.
Talk to your lawyer if you have questions about compensation and caps for damages. Generally, compensation for Texas medical malpractice claims will vary based on severity of your injuries, whether you contributed to your own injuries, whether you were disfigured, and whether the claim was filed within the statute of limitations.
- Texas medical malpractice cases can take years to resolve.
Not only are Texas medical malpractice claims difficult to win, it can take months or even years before an injured claimant receives payment.
Claimants will also need to hire a medical malpractice lawyer. The lawyer will then have to hire additional medical and legal experts to review the case.
- Medical malpractice lawyers get a large percentage of the payout.
Most medical malpractice lawyers are paid a contingency fee only if they win the Texas medical malpractice case. For example, the most common contingency fee is 33% of the award settlement, which can increase to 40% if the case goes to trial.
Talk to your lawyer about the total cost for their services before hiring them. Make sure you understand not only the percentage of your settlement they might be paid, but also whether there are additional fees for their services.
If you suffered injury or loss due to the negligence of a Texas healthcare professional, you may be entitled to seek compensation through a Texas medical malpractice claim. If you win your claim, you may be entitled to payment for pain and suffering, current and future lost wages, and current and future medical care.
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