Texas Medical Malpractice: Laws, Claims and Damages
UPDATED: March 7, 2012
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TEXAS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
A claim for medical malpractice in Texas can be filed against a medically negligent health care provider. Medical negligence is a term that describes when a health care provider treats a patient with a standard of care below the profession’s accepted standard, resulting in injury to the patient. Typically, Texas medical malpractice suits arise from the following negligent acts, although this is not an exhaustive list:
- Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a condition;
- Delays in treatment or a failure to treat a condition;
- Wrongful death as a result of malpractice;
- Errors in prescriptions.
If you believe your injury was the result of a Texas health care provider’s medical negligence, contact an experienced Texas medical malpractice attorney right away to determine whether or not you have a claim.
Who Can Be Sued in a Texas Medical Malpractice Case?
In Texas, any health care provider can act in a medically negligent manner and thus be sued for medical malpractice. Texas defines a health care provider as “any person, partnership, corporation, facility, or institution duly licensed, certified, registered, or chartered by the State of Texas to provide healthcare.” This broad definition means there are many types of individuals or entities in the medical field who would qualify as a health care provider, including chiropractors, nurses, physical therapists, hospitals, assisted living homes, dentists, and clinics.
Texas Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Texas medical malpractice law limits the amount of time that an injured patient has to file a claim against a negligent health care provider. This limited period is known as the statute of limitations, and it varies from state to state. The statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim in Texas is within two years of the date of the negligent act or omission, or if the act cannot be determined, within two years after the treatment was completed. If the patient does not discover the injury until much later, Texas law allows the patient to bring a claim within two years of the time the injury was discovered, or should have reasonably been discovered, for a maximum of up to ten years after the negligent act.
A minor is treated differently under Texas law. A minor that has been injured by the negligence of a health care provider has until their twentieth birthday to file a claim, as long as the negligent act happened before their eighteenth birthday. Since the Texas statute of limitations can vary depending on the facts of your case, consult a Texas medical malpractice attorney with specific questions. It’s extremely important to file a claim within the Texas statute of limitations, as failure to do so will mean a bar to recovery.
Caps on Medical Malpractice Claims in Texas
An injured patient can recover both economic and noneconomic damages in a Texas medical malpractice suit. However, Texas law places a cap on the allowable amount of noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages are meant to account for an injured patient’s losses that cannot be measured monetarily, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship. If the negligent party is an individual health care provider, such as a doctor, a Texas plaintiff is limited to collecting $250,000 in noneconomic damages, no matter how many individual health care providers there are as defendants in the suit. On the other hand, if the defendant is a hospital or some other non-individual entity, the limit is still $250,000, unless there are multiple entities in the claim, in which case a plaintiff can recover up to $500,000 in noneconomic damages.
Wrongful death cases are placed in a separate category. For wrongful death medical malpractice claims, Texas law caps both the economic and noneconomic damages by statute: at the time the statute was written, compensatory damages for a wrongful death suit were limited to $500,000, but allowed for increases in the limit based on inflation. At this time, therefore, the compensatory damage limit for a wrongful death claim is up to around $1,600,000.
To calculate the recoverable damages for your claim, the best thing to do is to contact a Texas medical malpractice attorney for a professional evaluation of your case.
Filing a Texas Medical Malpractice Claim
Filing a medical malpractice claim in Texas can quickly become a complicated, expensive, and drawn-out process. Negotiating and litigating a medical malpractice claim usually entails hiring expert witnesses and making multiple court appearances. Expert knowledge of the law is required to build a successful medical malpractice claim against the health care provider’s team of medical malpractice insurance attorneys. Proceeding with a claim is unadvisable without the assistance of your own medical malpractice lawyer.
In order to ensure the fullest and most accurate recovery possible, all of the potential defendants in the claim must be identified, which can include the negligent health care provider, their assistant, their employer, or the manufacturer of the medical equipment that might have contributed to the injury. A Texas medical malpractice attorney will be able to identify all of the potential defendants, as well as provide you with necessary leverage against the defense lawyers for each. Further, an experienced Texas medical malpractice attorney will ensure that you do not make any procedural mistakes that could be detrimental to your claim.
Texas Medical Malpractice Laws
- Civil Practice & Remedies Code: Medical Liability: Definitions: Title 4, Chapter 74, §74.001.
- Civil Practice & Remedies Code: Medical Liability: Statute of Limitations on Health Care Liability Claims: Title 4, Chapter 74, §74.251.
- Civil Practice & Remedies Code: Medical Liability: Limitation on Noneconomic Damages; Limitation on Damages: Title 4, Chapter 74, §§74.301, 74.303.