Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Hiring a Houston Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you suspect you or someone you loved was seriously injured due to medical negligence, you should consult a Houston medical malpractice lawyer immediately. A study performed by researchers at John Hopkins University determined that 251,454 people die annually due to medical error. This makes medical malpractice the third leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer. Car accidents account for 136,053 deaths a year. That is almost twice as many people killed by medical malpractice than car accidents.
Sure everyone makes mistakes, but when a doctor makes one on you—well, you could face serious consequences. If you have been injured due to a preventable mistake on the part of your health care provider, call Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., right now at (713) 932-0777. The clock is running out on your claim.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to follow the accepted standards of care while treating a patient and causes a foreseeable injury. Some examples of specific medical malpractice claims include:
- Surgical Errors
- Childbirth Injuries
- Failure to Diagnose/Misdiagnosis Claims
- Failure to Monitor After Surgery
Do I Need to Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
You must hire a qualified medical malpractice attorney. Tort reform in the United States over the past 20 years has drastically changed the way medical malpractice law is handled in this country. Many requirements are time-sensitive. Failure to meet them can result in your claim being dismissed and forever barred.
In the State of Texas, these claims now file under the category of health care liability claims. In every jurisdiction the rules and requirements on how to file a medical malpractice claim are different. If you fail to file a report timely in some jurisdictions, like Texas, your case will be dismissed and forever barred, even if you don’t know the rules. Therefore you should consult a medical malpractice lawyer in Houston, Texas, who knows the rules and knows how to protect your rights so that your valid claim does not become the next victim of tort reform.
Medical Malpractice Traps
To reduce and control the rising cost of medical care, many states have imposed substantial restrictions upon medical malpractice lawsuits. Because of this, there are many traps and pitfalls that an unwary victim and/or unskilled attorney may fall into when trying to bring a medical malpractice claim against a negligent doctor or hospital. Some of these pitfalls include:
- Expert Report. In many jurisdictions, like Texas, there is a certain time frame in which you are required to file a detailed report by a medical expert that demonstrates the standard of care that was violated and how it was violated. In the State of Texas, you are required to obtain and file this report within 120 days after filing a lawsuit involving any healthcare liability claims, including medical malpractice. Your failure to file a report by a qualified expert that meets the minimum criteria, within 120 days, will result in your case being dismissed and your claim being forever barred. This is what is known as a Chapter 74 Report in Texas.
- Notice Requirements. There are very strict notice requirements imposed upon persons bringing health care liability claims against medical providers. Failure to give timely notice may result in your claim being delayed or barred.
- State Notice Requirements. If your negligent medical provider works for or is a state, city, or county hospital or medical clinic then you must meet the strict notice requirements of the state tort claims act that applies to your cause of action.
- Damage Caps. Many states have passed legislation placing caps on the total amount of damages you can recover from any single medical provider as a result of a health care liability or medical malpractice claim. In the State of Texas, you may be capped at as little as $250,000 per negligent medical professional. While this may not seem like a small amount, the cost of bringing a medical malpractice claim can often run over $100,000, thereby making these claims unfeasible for attorneys and clients to invest the money and time into.
- County Hospital Caps. County hospitals often have lower damage caps under their respective state’s tort claims act. In the State of Texas, a county hospital’s maximum liability is $100,000.
- Statute of Limitations. Medical Malpractice Statute of limitations varies from state to state. Many states have created specific rules governing when a medical malpractice claim may be brought, further restricting the timing of filing these claims. This can be particularly troublesome when the negligence is such that you don’t discover the damage done, until years later. For example, a medical device left inside a patient or a medication that has long term effects.
Each of the pitfalls listed above can destroy an otherwise valid medical malpractice claim. You must hire a medical malpractice lawyer who understands these pitfalls and can help you navigate them to the fullest extent possible under the law.
What is the Difference Between Health Care Liability and Medical Malpractice?
According to Title 4, Chapter 74 of the Texas State Civil Practice and Remedies Code, medical malpractice or medical negligence fall under the umbrella of Health Care Liability Claims. A Health Care Liability Claim is any injury caused by a medical professional while providing care. It is an extremely broad term that encompasses not only the traditional medical malpractice cases but also many other cases involving medical facilities and professionals such as a nurse’s worker’s compensation claim and failure to exterminate dangerous spiders at a nursing home.
What is the Standard of Care?
The standard of care is simply the standard of care an average, prudent medical professional in the same community would provide to a patient under the same or similar circumstances.
A plaintiff patient will need to establish what the standard of care in his or her community is and demonstrate that the defendant breached that standard by his or her action or inaction.
What Types of Health Care Providers May Be Liable?
A medical malpractice cause of action may be filed against any responsible, licensed medical professional. This includes nurses, doctors, psychologists, and psychotherapists.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Medical Malpractice Action?
Texas does impose a statute of limitations on all medical malpractice lawsuits. An injured patient must file their cause of action within two years from the date of the breach or from the completion of treatment.
Under the common law, the statute of limitations time does not begin to toll against a patient until their injury is discovered. However, in Texas, the statute applies even if the injury was not discovered in time to bring an action.
Will Expert Testimony be Necessary for My Trial?
A trial court in Texas will require expert testimony to be given to establish the duty of care in a medical malpractice case. Under Texas law, a report that clearly defines what the standard of care was and how it was violated must be filed within 180 days of the filing of the lawsuit or the case will be dismissed with prejudice.
Is There a Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages?
There are limits on the amount of monetary damages a patient may receive for a successful medical malpractice claim in Texas. Noneconomic damages for all doctor and health care practitioner defendants involved in the injury is capped at $250,000. Total liability for one hospital is capped at $250,000 and for all hospital defendants jointly at $500,000.
Take the First Step to Obtaining Restitution Today
If you have been injured due to medical negligence, you need a Houston medical malpractice lawyer fighting for your rights as soon as possible. We offer free consultations on medical malpractice claims. Call (713) 932-0777 for your free consultation.
Depending upon the nature of the case, some cases are likely to be referred to another attorney for handling–with the client’s permission.