Medical malpractice is defined as professional negligence, mistake or omission that has been made by a health care practitioner. It occurs when their care falls below the accepted standard of care and results in injury or death. While the majority of medical malpractice cases involve medical errors that are made by physicians, other medical practitioners such as nurses, pharmacists, therapists, anesthesiologists, and dentists may also commit medical malpractice when their care falls below the standard of care. These standards will often vary depending on the country, jurisdiction within the countries, and areas of medical practice.
If you have been injured by the act or acts of a medical practitioner, you can bring a claim and receive damages for the following:
- Economic damages including medical care, hospitalization, lost wages and future lost wages, replacement services such as transportation to medical appointments, household assistance, in-home medical care, and rehabilitation.
- Non-Economic damages including loss of quality of life, loss of consortium and society, emotional and psychological suffering and distress, pain and suffering, and loss of livelihood.
- Wrongful death including funeral expenses, pain and suffering, loss of insurance benefits, income and inheritance.
Tort Reform = Limits on Liability
In 2003, the Texas state legislature overhauled the medical malpractice laws to include caps on the amount of non-economic damages that could be sued for. Someone who has been harmed after the effective date of the legislation can still sue for the actual costs of medical care, but there are limits, or caps, on the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded. These caps change depending on the number of practitioners involved in your case of medical negligence and are set at the following amounts:
- A single health care practitioner is liable for up to $250,000.
- When multiple health care practitioners are involved, the amount is still $250,000 per practitioner but there is a maximum cap of $750,000 per incident. This would be allocated at $250,000 maximum from practitioners and $500,000 maximum from health care institutions.
- Wrongful death claims are capped at a maximum of $500,000.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Negligence
If you have been harmed by a medical practitioner in the state of Texas, the statute of limitations – or the time in which you can file a lawsuit for compensation – is two years from the date the medical malpractice occurred on or within two years of the completion of your medical treatment. What that means is if you don't file your claim within that time frame your claim will be forever barred.
The two-year statute of limitations also applies to medical malpractice claims even when the injury or harm was not discovered within the two-year time frame. If there is fraud involved on the part of the medical practitioner such as changing medical records or failing to inform the patient of a known harm, then the two-year statute is tolled or paused. The claim must then be filed within the two years of discovery of the malpractice or the fraudulent act intended to hide it. Lastly, children under the age of twelve must have a claim filed on their behalf by their fourteenth birthday, otherwise their claim will also be barred by the two-year statute of limitations.