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 get at 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 to Know Whether Medical Malpractice Happened in Your 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 hospital could be to blame.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
Here are some example malpractice scenarios:
- A doctor fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses 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 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 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.
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 for Bringing a Medical Malpractice Claim?
First, your attorney will carefully examine all the evidence in your case. This will include all of your 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 go ahead and 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. It basically 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 in an effort to settle your claim without going to trial.
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 upon all the factors in a claim and how willing parties are to settle, it could take months or longer.
Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Will Fight for You
If you believe you or a family member was the victim of medical malpractice, call the accident and injury law office of Terry Bryant 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. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice lawyers by calling (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.