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What is Considered Medical Malpractice in Texas?

medical malpractice statute of limitations texas

Lawsuits that come from patients claiming a doctor(s) caused them harm are known as medical malpractice claims, or in Texas, they are known as healthcare liability claims. These can be filed against one or more hospitals, physicians, nurses, or any other healthcare providers and staff. These claims are defined by state law as actions taken against healthcare providers who failed to follow accepted medical standards of care, did not provide treatment or treated patients in a way that resulted in injury or death. Proving negligence can be done by showing how the defendants did not meet acceptable and professional standards of care. 

In addition to physical pain, suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, loss of consortium damages, punitive damages can even be sought. However, noneconomic damages have been capped at $250,000 per person. You may still be able to receive more than this capped limit with economic type damages. Common damages in Texas include exacerbating or worsening a medical condition or unnecessarily giving treatment or surgery. 

A medical malpractice attorney can help you understand that when you file this claim, you can sue for your financial losses, including corrective treatment or surgery for their mistake, lost wages, earning capacity, etc. You can also sue for noneconomic damages, though capped at $250,000; this includes pain and suffering, loss of consortium, companionship, enjoyment of life, mental anguish, disfigurement or physical impairment, inconvenience, or injury reputation. For more information, please contact a San Antonio medical malpractice lawyer at our firm. Call 210-366-4949 today to schedule a consultation with us.

What Is Texas’ Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations?

To start at the basics, a “statute of limitations” is a law that creates a time limit for going to civil court and filing a lawsuit after suffering harm or loss. Each state has these, so deadlines may be different for each state and different types of cases.

As do many other states, Texas sets a specific statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims. It is shown in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code in section 74.251.

“Sec. 74.251.  STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON HEALTH CARE LIABILITY CLAIMS.  

(a)  Notwithstanding any other law and subject to Subsection (b), no health care liability claim may be commenced unless the action is filed within two years from the occurrence of the breach or tort or from the date the medical or health care treatment that is the subject of the claim or the hospitalization for which the claim is made is completed;  

provided that minors under the age of 12 years shall have until their 14th birthday to file, or have filed on their behalf, the claim.  Except as herein provided, this section applies to all persons regardless of minority or other legal disability.

(b)  A claimant must bring a health care liability claim not later than ten years after the date of the act or omission that gives rise to the claim.  This subsection is intended as a statute of repose so that all claims must be brought within ten years or they are time barred.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 204, Sec. 10.01, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.”

So to recap, beginning on the day where harm or loss is inflicted as a result of medical malpractice, you have two years to file your health care liability claim. Or, if you suffer some type of harm that requires ongoing treatment, the two-year time limit does not begin counting down until the conclusion of treatment. If a claim is not sought within this time frame, it is barred by the statute of limitations and cannot be brought.

Exceptions to the Rule

Certain circumstances may show that the statute of limitations is too harsh. Texas law has included exceptions to the rule:

  • Minors – For medical malpractice statute of limitations, Texas has an exception for minors who are injured before the age of 12 being able to file a claim anytime until age 14. For example, if a child is harmed at age 6, they can file suit at any point up until age 14.
  • Undiscovered Negligence – If a patient could not find out about medical negligence within that two-year statute of limitations period, Texas law provides the patient a “reasonable” amount of time to file suit after discovery.

Do not wait if you are a victim of medical malpractice. Do not rely solely on qualifying for an exception. Texas medical malpractice cases can be complicated. Contact a Texas medical malpractice lawyer and law firm to begin your healthcare liability claim and protect your legal rights. 

What If Medical Treatment Went Hand in Hand With Specific Risks?

Even though some treatments are indisputably risky, healthcare providers must disclose certain risks to patients or people with the authority to consent (parents of minors, legal guardians, or those with medical power of attorney). In this manner, the patient or their guardian can give informed consent in writing for the recommended treatment or surgery.

Is Medical Malpractice Difficult to Prove?

One of the more complex areas of law is putting together a successful medical malpractice case to take to court. Proving medical negligence can be a vast and challenging endeavor, even for the most experienced lawyers. The most difficult thing to prove in these cases is the causation of harm.

The more straightforward element is establishing that the medical provider in question veered from the standard of care, causing harm. Under the facts, the court must assess what the proper level of care should have been while supported by medical experts. They must next determine whether the standard of care was fulfilled or not.

What’s more difficult to establish and prove is that the subpar care they experienced was the source of the patient’s harm. With surgeries, for example, there is a multitude of complications that are commonly known and regarded as procedural risks. Surgical procedures can go awry even when they follow the standard of care. This is why determining that a medical practitioner was negligently culpable or that the injury was caused by one of the surgery’s hazards is challenging.

What is the average settlement for medical malpractice lawsuits in Texas?

As one of 31 states, Texas has passed legislation and measures limiting the quantity of financial compensation granted in medical malpractice lawsuits. In September 2003, this Texas state statute became operative for the first time. It restricts the indemnification obtained in a medical error suit for suffering and pain to a ceiling of $250,000. The amount which can be awarded for medical costs or lost pay has no limit.

Advocates for the law contend that it has reduced the number of cases brought, quoting data showing that the average compensation for a comparable award in Texas is approximately $199,000.

Texas’ award limit, like those in most other jurisdictions, solely applies to non-economic damages. The following are some of the law’s highlights (the complete text may be found in Texas Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 74.301):

  • Non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims against a physician or health care professional are allowed up to $250,000 per claimant.
  • Non-economic damages are capped at $250,000 per claimant in medical malpractice claims against a single health care organization.
  • There is a total maximum of $500,000 in non-economic penalties for each claimant in situations involving several healthcare institutions. No one institution may be held liable for more than $250,000 in non-economic compensation per claimant.

Statute of Repose: When You’re No Longer Able to File

Texas also has a provision that stipulates that if it has been upwards of ten years since the claimed medical error transpired, you will no longer be able to initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas. This loss of the right to file is referred to as a “statute of repose,” and it serves as a sort of comprehensive filing deadline.

Contact Janicek Law For More Information

At Janicek Law in San Antonio, we understand what it takes to fight a medical malpractice case on behalf of injured victims. Even the most diligent employees can make mistakes, including those in the medical field. However, when a doctor or a nurse makes a mistake, the consequences can be dire. If you suffered an injury due to medical malpractice, you need to contact the best malpractice lawyers that San Antonio has to offer. The Janicek Law Firm is board certified in personal injury trial law, so we’re ready and willing to fight on your behalf in a courtroom. To schedule a free consultation with us, please call 210-366-4949, or fill out our online intake form.

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