How Do You Know Whether You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

November 10, 2023 Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice happens when doctors, nurses, or other healthcare workers make negligent mistakes that hurt patients. If you’ve been injured in a medical setting, how do you know whether you have a medical malpractice case? Sometimes doctors and others make errors that don’t rise to the level of medical malpractice.

To have a malpractice case:

  • Negligence must have occurred. Negligence means that a doctor’s actions were outside the accepted standard of care that another doctor would have shown in a similar situation.
  • The doctor’s negligent actions had to have directly caused the patient’s injuries.
  • The patient must have experienced losses or damages because of their injuries.

This area of the law is very complex. It can be difficult to prove that malpractice happened. For one thing, doctors and other healthcare workers stick up for each other, so it can be hard to determine the truth of what happened. While a patient might have experienced serious injuries at the hands of a doctor, negligence must be proven. It usually takes the help of lawyers familiar with medical malpractice law to be successful in malpractice claims.

How Do You Know Whether You Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

The best way to find out whether you have a case is to speak with an experienced Houston medical malpractice lawyer. Every case of possible malpractice is unique. Once a lawyer learns the details of your individual matter, they can advise you about whether the doctor or other medical professional’s actions were negligent. If they were, a skilled Texas attorney who is not afraid to take on the medical system can advise you about bringing a claim on your behalf.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Medical Malpractice?

It’s not only doctors who can be held liable for medical malpractice. Nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nursing assistants, pharmacists, podiatrists, dentists, hospitals, or other medical providers can be sued for medical malpractice if their negligent actions harm patients. Sometimes, depending on the situation, more than one medical provider could be held liable. For example, if a nurse who was employed by a hospital injured a patient, both the nurse and the hospital could be to blame.

Examples of Medical Malpractice

Here are some example malpractice scenarios:

  • A doctor misdiagnoses or fails to diagnose an illness
  • A doctor leaves a sponge or other surgical tool inside a patient’s body
  • A surgeon operates on the wrong limb or even on the wrong patient
  • A surgeon performs surgery the patient didn’t need
  • A nurse gives a patient in a hospital the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of a medicine
  • A hospital prematurely discharges a patient
  • A pharmacist fills a prescription with the wrong drug
  • A doctor fails to order the right tests
  • A doctor doesn’t warn a patient about the known risks of a procedure
  • A nursing assistant doesn’t follow standard procedures to keep a patient safe and they are injured.

These are just some of the possible ways doctors and others commit malpractice. When their negligent actions injure patients, they can be sued for damages related to the injuries. A malpractice attorney will look at your case to identify how the malpractice occurred.

What Can Be Asked For in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

You can ask for economic and non-economic damages in a medical malpractice claim. Economic damages are payment for doctor and hospital bills, time you missed at work while recovering from injuries, and other things that can be easily added up. Non-economic damages include compensation for the physical pain and emotional suffering you’ve experienced. You may also be able to ask for punitive damages if the medical provider was egregiously negligent.

There is a cap on how much money you can get for non-economic damages, which is generally $250,000 per claimant. There is no cap on economic damages. However, there is a statutory cap that limits punitive damages in medical malpractice cases. It only allows for the recovery of $200,000, or two times the amount of compensable damages, up to a limit of $750,000.

Also, if you lost a family member due to medical malpractice, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim. You must be a spouse, child, or parent of the person who died to file for wrongful death. In such a claim, you may be able to get compensation for medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses.

What Are the Steps of a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Texas?

The steps of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas start with your attorney carefully examining all the evidence in your case. This will include all medical records related to your injury. Expert witnesses, who are other medical professionals, will be asked to review your records to support the claim.

Once you decide to file a claim, you must notify the medical provider in writing that you’ll be filing a malpractice claim against them. Your attorney can handle this for you. It must be done 60 days before filing. In Texas, people suing for medical malpractice must also provide an expert’s report that supports their malpractice claims. An expert report is when an outside doctor or other medical professional reviews all the evidence and agrees that malpractice may have occurred. This gives your claim validity.

There are many other legal steps your case will go through. During this time, your attorney may also negotiate with the doctor’s insurance company to try to settle your claim without going to trial.

The Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases in Texas

The question “How do you know if you have a medical malpractice case?” is important, but equally important is asking, “What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Texas?”

The statute of limitations is the time limit an individual has to take a specific legal action. One of the most important steps of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas is determining the relevant statute of limitations. The statute of limitations that applies to many cases is two years. However, various rules modify this two-year limit, so it is essential that you always speak directly to an attorney to learn the exact deadlines that apply to your potential claims. Some of the unique circumstances:

Minor Victims

Minors who are the victim of medical malpractice and are under the age of 12 have until their 14th birthday to take legal action for compensation. If the parents bring the suit on behalf of the minor, the two-year limitation applies.

Discovery Rule

The discovery rule states that the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases does not begin until the victim of the malpractice discovers an injury caused by malpractice. For example, if a patient receives negligent treatment but the injurious result of that treatment does not manifest until a year later, the statute of limitations will not begin running until the discovery of their injury.

Continuing Course of Treatment

Sometimes, negligent treatment or care spans a period that may last months or even years. When that is the case, the statute of limitations does not start running until the date of the final act of negligent treatment. However, determining when negligent treatment ceased is a contentious issue, making it recommended that medical malpractice victims file within two years of the bulk of their course of treatment when possible.

Statute of Repose

No matter what the circumstances of your medical malpractice claim, a statute of repose exists that provides an overall time limit for all medical malpractice cases. Regardless of exceptions and rules, no victim of medical malpractice may take legal action against a healthcare provider after ten years have passed from the negligent act that caused the injury. The answer to the question “How do you know if you have a medical malpractice case?” and the necessary steps of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas hinge on the statutes of limitations and repose, so it is vital to act quickly.

How Long Does a Medical Malpractice Case Take?

A medical malpractice case that goes to trial can take years to conclude. And there is no guarantee that a trial will go in your favor, although having an experienced litigation attorney on your side can greatly increase the odds of success.

Many cases settle outside of court, though, through negotiations with malpractice insurance providers. Depending on all the factors in a claim and how willing parties are to settle, it could take months or longer.

At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, our attorneys are experienced negotiators and trial lawyers who work diligently to settle cases in a timely manner. We thoroughly understand each of the steps of a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas and how insurance companies work to pay less. We use time-tested strategies to compel them to pay, but we do not entertain lowball offers that won’t meet our clients’ needs, so drawn-out negotiations are sometimes necessary.

Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Will Fight for You

If you believe you or a family member was the victim of medical malpractice, call Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law today. We will examine all the facts of your case; if it appears that your injuries were due to medical malpractice (also referred to as medical negligence), we will advise you about your options for a legal claim. Take advantage of the opportunity for a free and confidential consultation. Call our experienced medical malpractice lawyers at 713-973-8888 or toll-free 1-800-444-5000.

Attorney Terry Bryant

Attorney Terry BryantTerry Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means his extensive knowledge of the law has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, setting him apart from many other injury attorneys. The 22 years he spent as a Municipal Judge, Spring Valley Village, TX also provides him keen insight into the Texas court system. That experience also helps shape his perspective on personal injury cases and how they might resolve. This unique insight benefits his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]

Table of Contents