When we become ill, we rarely pause to consider whether or not our health care provider is following the “accepted” or “customary” treatment methods appropriate to our condition. In the majority of instances we are treated, we get better, and we go our separate ways. There are times, however, that this is not the case and our provider makes an error in judgement or in procedure and we are harmed rather than helped. When this happens, medical malpractice has occurred and we have the right to hold the practitioner liable for their actions. Our Beaumont medical malpractice attorney is prepared to listen to your case and help you explore your legal options.
What is Medical Malpractice?
In its general sense, medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional does not follow a standard of care that would have been expected of another health care professional of similar training or experience if faced under the same circumstances and that failure results in an injury of some type.
Who Can File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
In order to file any type of lawsuit in Texas, you must be able to show that 1) you have what is called “standing” under the law, 2) that you were injured by the alleged malpractice, and 3) the “time limit” (the statute of limitations) has not expired.
“Standing” means that the court recognizes that you are legally-entitled to file a lawsuit in Texas. In general, standing may be granted to the following:
a court-appointed guardian or trustee
You must also prove that you suffered some injury as a result of the alleged malpractice. The possibility that you could have been injured is not grounds for a lawsuit.
Finally, the time limit for your lawsuit cannot have expired. Depending on the type and circumstances of your injury, this requirement can be quite complex. Our Beaumont personal injury lawyer is prepared to help you understand your case’s timeline, so you do not miss the opportunity for compensation.
Damages and Medical Malpractice
Once your attorney has proved that you were injured by medical malpractice, he or she will ask the jury to decide the amount and type of damages that you should receive. Texas courts recognize two types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages, as their name implies, are awarded to “compensate” or “pay you back” for the monetary losses you have suffered as a consequence of your injuries. Compensatory damages themselves can be economic damages, non-economic damages, or some combination of the two.
Economic damages are those that can be documented by such things as both past and current medical bills, as well as medical expenses that you are likely to experience in the future. You can also be compensated for wages and other income that you lost due to your injury, and other related expenses, as long as you can show that such expenses are directly related to your injury.
Non-economic damages are awarded to compensate you for losses that are “real” but are “subjective” (hard to evaluate in “dollars and cents”). The most familiar types of non-economic damages are those awarded for “pain and suffering” and “loss of consortium” (not being able to participate in family, social, and cultural events).
On the other hand, punitive damages are not based on the type or severity of your injuries. Punitive damages are awarded for the sole purpose of “punishing” or “making an example of” those whose negligence led to your unnecessary suffering. In theory, these damages are intended to discourage others from acting in the same manner and thus harming others. Whether or not punitive damages are effective is hotly debated, but “excessive” punitive damages are at the heart of the Texas legislature’s “tort reform” laws.
Under Texas law, the amount of damages that can be awarded is limited (“capped”) depending on their type:
Economic compensatory damages are not capped
Non-economic (“pain and suffering”) compensatory damages are “capped”
Punitive damages are “capped” at $200,000 or twice the amount of the economic damages plus the amount of non-economic damages but not more than $750,000 for a single event
Why you need a medical malpractice lawyer
As you have seen, in the State of Texas proving that you were a victim of medical malpractice is only part of the battle that you will face to secure fair compensation for your injuries and other losses. With the arrival of “tort reform,” the corporations that control everything from which doctor you can see to the price of the medications that you are prescribed have tried to protect their “bottom line” by limiting the amount of compensation that you can collect if you are injured by their negligence! Fortunately, the medical malpractice lawyer at The Doan Law Firm is ready to stand with you and fight to protect your legal right to demand compensation from those whose negligence caused harm.
If you think that you, or a family member, have been the victim of medical malpractice, we invite you to contact our firm to arrange a free review of the facts in your potential malpractice case and a discussion of the legal options that may be available to you.
When you contact our firm, your case review is always free and does not require that you hire us to as your attorney. Should you decide to file a lawsuit, and that you would like to have us represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.