Does Texas Limit What I Can Recover in a Medical Malpractice Case?
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When you seek treatment from a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional, you expect to be treated with the utmost care. Unfortunately, the medical profession is not perfect, and things do not always go as they should. Doctors and hospitals make thousands of serious errors each year, causing unnecessary death and suffering.
The harm you may experience due to a healthcare provider’s negligence can be costly. In Texas, however, there is a limit on what you can recover in a medical malpractice case. For everything you need to know about filing a claim and medical malpractice recovery limits, read the Texas Medical Malpractice FAQs below.
Texas Medical Malpractice FAQs
Medical malpractice claims have become increasingly common in the United States. A study published by Johns Hopkins University in 2016 found medical errors to be the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for roughly 250,000 deaths per year. Nationwide, medical malpractice lawyers are filing new claims every year for patients who have been victims of medical negligence.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a type of civil claim that involves a professional’s negligence. It occurs when a healthcare professional or provider neglects to provide appropriate treatment, omits to take an appropriate action, or gives substandard treatment that causes harm, injury, or death to a patient. Healthcare professionals and providers have a duty to provide a certain standard of care, recognized by the profession, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their patients. When a medical professional deviates from this standard, they may be held liable for the resulting harm.
What Should I Do After a Medical Injury?
If you believe you are victim of medical malpractice, the first thing you should do is have your injuries treated; find another doctor to assess and treat your injuries. As a result of this new assessment, documentation separate from your original treatment can be added to your medical records; this documentation can help uncover the extent of your injury or illness. After your treatment, be sure to obtain a copy of your medical records.
An experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer will be able to use your records as evidence while pursing your claim or potential lawsuit. The sooner you give your lawyer your medical records, the better, for they will be able to use your medical records to seek the medical opinions of other professionals regarding your injuries, and this process could be time consuming. The opinions of these professionals may be important to your case.
How Do I File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Texas?
Medical malpractice claims are filed in the civil court system. There are steps you need to follow before you can file your lawsuit in court, which are laid out in the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code; Section 74.051 of the code states that an injured party must first provide written notice of their claim to each healthcare provider to be named in the lawsuit, at least 60 days before the lawsuit is filed. This notice must be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested.
Next, section 74.052 of the code requires that the patient provide each named healthcare provider with an "authorization form for release of protected health information.” This is necessary because it allows the provider(s) access to the patient’s records to begin to investigate the patient's claims.
The final step, laid out in section 74.351, is for an injured patient (or his or her attorney) to serve an expert report—similar to an affidavit of merit—on each defendant within 120 days of filing the lawsuit. The expert report must summarize:
- the opinion of a qualified expert regarding the applicable standard of care
- the way in which the defendant failed to meet that standard
- the causal relationship between the failure and the harm inflicted on the plaintiff
If the expert report is not filed within 120 days of the lawsuit's commencement, the court may dismiss the case. The entire process may seem daunting and can be confusing to handle on your own. You should consult a Texas medical malpractice lawyer before proceeding with your claim.
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AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2017-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2016-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2016 – 2020) & BURGESS WILLIAMS (2016-2017) BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2021), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021), & CHRISTINA HAGEN (2021) BY SUPER LAWYERS (A THOMPSON REUTERS COMPANY)
MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2017-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2020), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), NEIL SOLOMON (2019-2020), COLE GUMM (2019-2020), CHRISTINA HAGEN (2020) & BRENDAN MCQUAID (2020)
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA & JOE CAPUTO
AWARDED TO ZINDA LAW GROUP (2016-2019) BY THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA IN 2015, 2016, 2017, AND 2020
AWARDED TO JOE CAPUTO (2016-2019) BY THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEYS
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Who Can I Sue?
Your doctor or other healthcare professional is not responsible for all the harms you may experience as a patient. However, your doctor may be legally responsible if your harm or injury is the result of their deviation from the standard of care expected from medical professionals. It is important to note that dissatisfaction with the results of treatment does not imply malpractice.
For you to have a claim for medical malpractice, you must show that your physician or provider acted negligently in providing care, and that such negligence resulted in your injury or illness. Texas law requires that persons injured by substandard medical care must prove:
- the existence of a doctor-patient relationship or a standard duty of care;
- the health care provider was “negligent,” meaning that the care provided was below the prevailing standard of care within the medical profession;
- the patient suffered injury as a result of negligent medical care; and
- the patient suffered damages as a result of their injury.
Contact a Texas medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible if you believe that you have suffered an injury due to a healthcare provider’s negligence. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will advise you of your rights and decide the best course of action.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Texas?
A statute of limitations is essentially a time limit for your claim; if you do not file your claim before the time limit expires, you forfeit your right to file the claim forever. In the state of Texas, there is a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims; this means that you must file your medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of the date on which you were injured by your healthcare provider. If you do not file the claim within two years, your claim is barred by the statute of limitations and cannot be brought.
Are There Any Exceptions to The Statute of Limitations?
Fortunately, there are exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations in Texas; these exceptions are detailed in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The first exception concerns minors who are the victims of medical negligence; the code states that minors under the age of 12 have until they turn 14 to file a medical malpractice claim through a representative. In addition, a claim for a minor’s medical expenses before they turn 18 belongs to the minor’s parents; this claim, which can be significant, is subject to the general two-year statute of limitations.
Another exception to the statute of limitations involves the discovery of a patient’s injury. If a patient was injured by a doctor’s negligence but did not discovery this injury until after the two-year limitation has expired, then the patient would be able to file a medical malpractice claim if done so in a “reasonable time.” What constitutes “reasonable time” is not defined in the code, and cases in Texas vary widely on what is considered reasonable time, so it is important to speak with a Texas medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you discover injury to start your claim.
Not all exceptions to the statute of limitations are advantageous to the injured patient. In Texas, persons bringing lawsuits regarding government employees must give notice of their claim within six months after the injury occurred. Certain Texas hospitals and clinics are owned by governmental entities, so if a patient’s medical malpractice claim arises from one of those hospitals or clinics, the patient may only have six months to file their claim.
These exceptions are very specific, and it can be difficult to know if you fall under these exceptions. Therefore, it is best if you consult a Texas medical malpractice lawyer immediately if you want to file a claim, and especially if you find yourself quickly approaching the two-year deadline.
What Can I Recover?
Being the victim of medical negligence is not only emotionally taxing but also very expensive. You may have had to pay out-of-pocket medical costs to treat your additional injury or illness and, as a result, find yourself low on funds or in debt. Some good news is that you may be able to receive compensation through compensatory damages.
Compensatory damages cover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are the direct, out-of-pocket costs associated with your injury or illness, such as additional doctor’s visits, physical therapy, medications, etc. Non-economic damages cover the physical and emotional toll of your injury or illness, such as mental anguish and pain and suffering.
Economic and non-economic costs you may recover through damages include:
- Current and future medical costs related to the injury
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
An experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer will be able to explain to you the specifics of the costs you can recover on your claim. They can help you calculate the full amount you may recover. To put it plainly, without their help, you may not receive the maximum amount of compensation to which you are due.
How Much Can I Recover for a Medical Injury in Texas?
Through an award of compensatory damages, you will be able to recover both the economic and non-economic costs of your injuries. In Texas, however, there is a damages cap, or limit, on exactly how much you can recover. The economic damages associated with your injury are typically easier to calculate and more concrete in value, while non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are not; for that reason, the damages cap in Texas applies to your non-economic damages.
The Texas Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act severely restricts that amount of damages that medical malpractice victims can obtain for pain and suffering; for example, non-economic damages against all doctors and healthcare providers are capped at $250,000. Non-economic damages against healthcare facilities are capped at $500,000. For cases in which both the treating physicians and the healthcare facility were negligent, the maximum recovery for pain and suffering is between $250,000 and $750,000.
In order to understand exactly what you will be able to be compensated for, you should speak with a Texas medical malpractice lawyer before pursuing your claim.
Do I Need a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Texas?
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit can be a very complex process. It can be difficult to handle it all on your own; seeking the assistance of a medical malpractice attorney in Texas would give you the best chance at recovering the maximum compensation you are entitled to under your claim.
How Zinda Law Group Can Help
At Zinda Law Group, we understand the stress you are under as a result of your injury. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys have the knowledge and skill needed to get you the maximum compensation you are entitled to. Our lawyers will take care of the complexities of the legal system and insurance claims process so you can focus on healing and taking care of your family.
Additionally, if we do not win your case, you will not pay any fees. This is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee. So, if you or a loved one have been injured by a medical provider in Texas, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Texas medical malpractice attorneys.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.