Entering in any medical facility can seem overwhelming, but the medical professionals that treat and interact with you are responsible for providing you with a certain standard of care. While most procedures and appointments go as planned, there are instances where physician negligence results in harm to a patient.
If you believe you or someone you love has been injured by the actions or inactions of a doctor, nurse, hospital, etc., you have the right to file a claim. Working with the Midland medical malpractice lawyers at Buckingham Barrera Law Firm can maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you need to recover and holding the negligent party accountable for your losses.
Medical Malpractice: Facts & Statistics
Medical malpractice rates are examined at both the national and state levels. According to a study published by Johns Hopkins, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently lists the top three causes of death as heart disease, cancer, and accidental injuries. But the earlier mentioned study claims medical mistakes take the lives of 250,000 people every year, which puts malpractice above accidents—which cause approximately 170,000 fatalities annually.
Johns Hopkins claims the errors aren’t due to inherently bad doctors. Instead, they attribute the mistakes to systemic issues including poorly coordinated care and fragmented insurance networks.
Specifically in Texas, Public Citizen, a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C., published a report on instances of physician and hospital malpractice. According to that report, there are approximately 3,260 to 7,261 preventable deaths every year due to medical errors. While medical malpractice insurance for physicians only equates to $421.2 million annually, it’s estimated that medical errors cost residents of Texas between $1.3 and $2.2 billion.
The biggest contributors to instances of medical malpractice in the state are repeat offenders. Unfortunately, the state government and healthcare providers do little to punish those negligent physicians. That’s why injured patients need the help of medical malpractice attorneys.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice in Texas
Determining if an instance of malpractice has occurred in healthcare isn’t always easy. Common cases we see involve birth injuries, medication mistakes, surgical errors, misdiagnoses, diagnostic failures, and defective medical devices. No matter the act of negligence that results in your injuries, we can build a case to prove you were wronged.
In order to prove malpractice, there are three elements that must be present. First, you must prove a doctor-patient relationship existed. This is the easiest element to prove, as the information is held in your medical records.
The second element involves showing how the doctor acted outside the standard of care. The standard of care refers to what medical experts deem as acceptable based on how the majority of physicians would act in any given situation. To prove a breach in the standard of care, we may bring in a medical expert to testify on your behalf.
Finally, a correlation must be drawn between the doctor’s negligence and your injuries. We’ll be able to use the testimony from the medical expert in conjunction with your records to prove you were harmed by the physician and suffered wrongfully.
Compensation Eligibility for Medical Malpractice Injuries
When a strong case is built on your behalf and a med mal case goes in your favor, you’ll be entitled to damages. They are the monetary awards that compensate you for the injuries and other losses you incurred as a result of negligence.
Damages typically take two forms: economic and noneconomic. Economic compensation reimburses you for expenses like medical bills and lost wages. Depending on your injuries, the future cost of care and lost earning capacity can also be taken into consideration. Noneconomic damages include payment for pain and suffering. These are harder to calculate and are often based on similar cases in the past and how severely the patient suffered.
Texas is one of many states that places legislative caps on damages for medical malpractice claims; however, only noneconomic damages are capped. Under the law, there is a $250,000 per claimant cap against a single physician or health care provider. This means that an institution cannot be responsible for more than $250,000 in noneconomic damages for an injured patient. Overall, there is a $500,000 per claimant cap.
Determining what you’re owed can be challenging, but we have the resources to make sure we take all of your losses into consideration.
How Filing a Med Mal Claim Works
The first thing to do after suspecting you’ve been injured as a result of a medical error is to contact a lawyer. This will ensure you get your claim started as soon as possible. Before you can file a lawsuit within the court system, Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code section 74.051 requires a written notice be provided to each health care provider being named in the lawsuit. This has to be done at least 60 days before the case is filed. It has to be sent via certified mail.
In addition to that, plaintiffs are also required to serve an expert report on each defendant within 120 days of filing. This report summarizes a medical expert’s opinion on the applicable standard of care, the way the defendant failed to meet the standard of care, and the relationship between the failure and the patient’s injuries.
The notice requirements listed above may seem confusing, but we have extensive experience filing paperwork and legal documents, so we’ll make sure everything is done correctly. Following the procedure step by step is crucial to developing a strong case.
When filing a lawsuit, it’s important to note the state’s statute of limitations. This puts a time limit on how long an injured patient has to file a case in court. In Texas, an injured patient typically has two years from the date the injury occurred or was reasonably discovered to file. Texas also observes a statute of repose, which means that no matter when the injury was discovered, the case must be brought within ten years of the date the negligence occurred.
Your lawyer will be able to determine what the statute of limitations is for your situation, as the official date is different for every case. Ensuring you meet the time limit is crucial. If you fail to do so, it’s likely you’ll render yourself ineligible for compensation, as the court will dismiss your case without review.
It’s also important to note that every state has separate compensation limits for medical malpractice lawsuits. We go over those limit caps here.
We Help Malpractice Victims in Midland
When you work with a Midland medical malpractice lawyer from Buckingham Barrera Law Firm, you can rest assured your case is being handled with the utmost respect and care. We recognize how complex and sensitive cases in this litigation area can be, which is why we’re here to help you obtain a successful outcome and get your life back in order.
If you’ve been a victim of medical negligence, we encourage you to seek guidance and representation from our firm as soon as possible. We’ll put you in touch with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who can assess your situation and provide you with information on how best to proceed. We’ll begin by exploring the crucial aspects of your potential claim and inform you of your legal rights and options. Schedule a case evaluation with us today to get started.