Can You Sue a Hospital for Medical Malpractice in Texas?
When you have been given the wrong treatment for a condition or illness, chances are you have a real malpractice claim on your hands. The medical malpractice law system varies from state to state, but most states allow for such claims in the case of misdiagnosis or wrong prescriptions.
If you live in Texas or plan to file such claim there, you should first be informed on the basics of the malpractice law in the state. The state laws are different from those of many other states, and being familiarized with the damages, procedures and requirements is key to a successful legal action.
Texas Malpractice Laws
As you probably know already, medical malpractices happen when a healthcare entity or professional harms his or her patient by providing wrong diagnosis or treatment. However, not everything fits the requirements necessary to make a medical malpractice claim. In Texas, for such harm to form basis for a claim, the action must be seen as negligence.
What is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence happens when a healthcare provider or entity violates or breaches their standard of care. Also known as the duty of care to a patient, the standard of care can vary based on the health condition or the age of the patient. In addition, the state the treatment is used in is also a factor in the standard of care.
This, of course, means that treating an illness or condition in Texas might have a completely different duty of care from treatment in other states. However, in most cases, the duty of care is determined on the basis of certain generally-accepted approaches and methods, as well as the standard of treating patients who suffer from similar conditions.
Texas Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims and Lawsuits
The unique and rather specific statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Texas includes a time limit. This time limit applies to the period within which an injured patient may file a medical malpractice claim in court. In Texas, you cannot bring such case to court if the negligence happened over two years ago. The clock starts running on the exact date when the injury occurred or was discovered. Of course, this date does not necessarily have to be the same as the day when the actual negligence happened.
In cases where medial error occurs as one part of a continuous treatment or during the course of treatment, the clock starts running starting from the last day of treatment. Of course, you can still file claims before the treatment ends, if the injury is discovered earlier.
Due to the specific, strict limits for a timeframe within which you can file a medical malpractice claim in court, it is essential to start the lawsuit as soon as you discover the negligence. In the case that something like this happens to you, it is recommended to consult with a Texas attorney who specializes in medical malpractice claims, and sue the medical provider before the deadline is finished.
Medical Malpractice Damages in the State of Texas
When you win at court and the lawsuit goes in our favor, you are automatically entitled to get damages. The damages are financial awards that serve to compensate the victim for the injuries that resulted from negligence on behalf of the medical provider.
There are various damages and amounts one can get when they win a medical malpractice suit:
- Economic damages range from full reimbursement of the medical bills to a reimbursement for the wages you have lost because you missed work days.
- Non-economic damages reimburse the patient for their suffering and pain, as well as the negative effects of the misdiagnosis or wrong treatment.
- Punitive damages punish the healthcare professional who committed negligence and malpractice because of maliciousness.
The Texas medical malpractice law has put caps that limit the damages a patient can get if they win the case.
The cap for the amount the defendant can pay the plaintiff, for all healthcare providers and hospitals, is $250,000. In total, the non-economic damages cap can reach up to $500,000, in the case that you sue both the doctor or healthcare provider and the hospital.
So, the most you can get if you file a suit against a doctor is $250,000. If you sue a hospital for negligence, you can get the same amount.
There are many states that place such caps on damages in medical malpractice suit, but in this case, the cap applies to non-economic damages and no other type of damages. This includes compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Anxiety, depression or stress
- Loss of happiness of enjoyment of life
- Other subjective losses that result from the malpractice of the defendant
Economic damages are not capped in the state of Texas
Notice Requirements for Medical Malpractice Suits in Texas
Before you can file a lawsuit in the civil court system in this state, Texas requires that you provide a written notice of this claim and send it to each of the healthcare providers you are planning to name in the lawsuit. The timeframe for this is 60 days before you file the actual case to the court. The notice should be sent via certified e-mail, and the content must contain a request for a return receipt.
This is not all. When an injured patient in Texas wants to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, her or his attorney must serve a report from an expert within 120 days after the filling of the lawsuit. This report should contain information on:
- The opinions of an expert regarding the negligence and standard of care
- The causal relationship between the harm that is inflicted on the patient and the failure of the healthcare provider
The court is allowed to dismiss a case for which there is no expert report filed within 120 days since the commencement of the lawsuit.
If you do decide to file such claim, note that lawsuits like this can be very complex. To be able to prove malpractice, you need to rely on legal and medical expertise that proves such negligence. In some cases, the court may require an expert witness, and the process can take months or years to resolve.
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