This article will explain what is a malpractice suite, steps of a medical malpractice suit, and the typical situations that lead to one. If you or someone you care for has been harmed by medical malpractice, it is important that you find a Texas lawyer who is experienced in cases of medical malpractice.
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Why Might You File A Medical Malpractice Suit?
One of the first things you’ll be wondering if you think you might have been the victim of medical malpractice is what exactly is classed as malpractice, and why you would consider filing a lawsuit over it.
Medical malpractice happens when a health care professional (such as a doctor, physician, nurse, or anesthetist), or a hospital in general, has caused any type of injury to a patient through negligence or omission in care.
The harm that they have caused might have led to misdiagnosing a condition, unnecessary or complications in surgery or treatment, and much more. Medical malpractice accidents can have life-altering and devastating effects and can make it impossible for victims to live the normal life that they did before.
Medical malpractice frequently causes repercussions for the patient’s general health, which can lead to escalating hospital and medical bills from a sustained set of injuries.
If you think you have been harmed by medical malpractice, it is important that you have the assistance of an experienced Texas lawyer to file your malpractice lawsuit.
The big hospitals and medical corporations will want to pay out as little as possible for your injuries, so you need a lawyer who will fight tooth and nail for the money you deserve for your damages.
What Are The Types Of Medical Malpractice?
According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys (ABPLA), for an act to be legally considered malpractice, the lawsuit claim must have the following characteristics:
A violation of the standard of care = the law recognizes that there are certain medical standards that are seen by the medical profession as being acceptable treatment. This is because they would be undertaken by ‘reasonably prudent health care professionals who are under similar circumstances.
An injury was caused by the professional’s negligence = it is not sufficient for a medical professional to have only violated the standard of care if you are filing a malpractice lawsuit. In addition to medical care negligence, the victim and their team also have to prove that they sustained an injury as a result of the negligence.
An unfavorable outcome by itself also isn’t malpractice – the patient has to prove that the negligence then caused the injury. If there is either injury without negligence, or negligence without an injury, there is no malpractice suit.
The injury resulted in significant damages – malpractice lawsuits are expensive to litigate, as there is a large amount of research that needs to be done, they frequently require the testimony of numerous medical expert witnesses, and countless hours of deposition.
For the case to be financially viable, the affected patient must show significant damages that have resulted from an injury that allegedly came from medical negligence.
To effectively pursue a medical malpractice suit, the victim has to show that the injury resulted in disability, loss of income, unusual or enduring pain, suffering and hardship, or significant medical bills (which can be past or future).
A Few Examples Of Medical Malpractice:
- Failure to diagnose, or misdiagnosis
- Unnecessary surgeries
- Misread or ignored laboratory results
- Surgical errors, or a wrong-site surgery
- Improper medication or dosage
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Premature discharge
- Disregarding patient history
- Failure to recognize symptoms
- Failure to order proper testing
How Do You Pursue A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit In Texas?
It is first essential to know that medical malpractice isn’t an easy thing to undertake – due to the court system, they take plenty of time and effort before anything is settled, and the victim sees a payout.
The first thing you need to consider when thinking of filing a lawsuit is finding an attorney who is right for you.
You will want an experienced lawyer with a proven track record of success in medical malpractice suits. There are so many complex legal and medical terms involved because of the nature of these cases, so you need a lawyer that you can trust, and that makes themselves available to you throughout your case.
Once you have recruited a lawyer to help you in your case, a deep investigation into your medical records (and the records of the professionals you are taking to court) will commence.
Hospital attorneys will help you obtain medical records that might be difficult to access on your own.
After they have all of the necessary records, your lawyer will start to dissect your case, beginning with the initial diagnosed medical condition, your state after the procedure, and your possible misdiagnosis.
Your lawyer will then recruit a medical expert, who will use their wealth of knowledge to prove the negligence of the healthcare professional and will establish the enduring effect that this has had on you.
After your lawyer has thoroughly investigated your case, a lawsuit can then be filed. It is important to remember that all malpractice suits are different, meaning the necessary steps, the time that those steps take and the parties involved could be a little different from what we have listed here.
Most cases don’t make it all the way through to the trial phase; rather, they are settled in mediation that occurs pre-trial. This is because taking a case to trial will become expensive and time-consuming for all parties involved.
Your lawyer should represent and advise you throughout, to make sure that all your needs are being met, and will let you know the best course of action.
A Few Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice Suits
How Much Is My Medical Malpractice Case Worth?
The potential financial payout is dependent on a multitude of both objective and subjective factors. Most damages in medical malpractice cases are compensatory.
This means that they are intended to reimburse the patient for the financial, physical, and emotional consequences of the malpractice.
Economic damages (which are also sometimes known as special damages) are to cover costs like medical bills, lost income, the cost of potential future treatments, and other objective losses.
Non-economic damages (which are sometimes known as general damages) are used to cover the patient’s subjective pain and suffering, in addition to other types of harm that are challenging to quantify.
Someone who suffered a permanent disability or enduring loss of function is likely to recover a higher award of damages. A patient could also be awarded punitive damages if they can prove that the defendant acted intentionally or in another egregious manner.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations For A Medical Malpractice Suit?
The statute of limitations in a medical malpractice suit defines the time period in which a patient can bring a claim to court.
In Texas, there is generally a two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice, but as we will go on to explore, there are certain situations where this is extended.
Usually, the statute of limitation time starts running when an incident occurs but might be extended when if the patient is receiving a continuing course of treatment from the same healthcare provider.
It may also be extended based on the discovery rule.
This means that the statute is extended when an injured patient did not have the opportunity to discover the malpractice suit when it first happened.
Finally, victims of birth injuries may benefit from a longer statute of limitations, which may even be extended to the point that they turn 18.
What Are Damage Caps, And Why Do They Exist?
A damage cap is a limit imposed on the amount of compensation that the plaintiff of a medical malpractice suit can be awarded.
It may apply to the total financial award, or only to part of the award (such as the non-economic damages). These caps are usually (but not always) adjusted for inflation.
These damages caps are used to stop jurors from awarding excessive amounts of compensation to plaintiffs that they sympathize with, and also stop them from excessively penalizing the negligent medical professional defendant.
Caps also are meant to keep the costs of medical malpractice insurance reasonable, and are also used to prevent doctors from being driven out of the medical profession by one suit.
Do I Need A Lawyer For A Medical Malpractice Case?
Whilst you technically don’t require a lawyer for a malpractice case, you should strongly consider it, as they are legally far more complex and intensive than other types of cases.
They will require researching, assembling, and interpreting personal medical documents as well as finding experts who will testify on your behalf.
The plaintiff also has to reach certain procedural requirements before the case can be heard, and it is easy for a litigant unfamiliar with the legal system to make mistakes during this process, leading to the loss of their rights, or damage to their legal case.
An experienced attorney will help navigate all these complexities and pitfalls, to secure you the payout that you deserve.