Medical malpractice lawsuits are a type of personal injury claim and cover a variety of situations and can be filed against doctors, hospitals or clinics, dentists or other health care professionals. Dallas County residents rely on the care and judgment of their health care providers everyday but should know the basics about what their options are in the event that they be affected by a medical error.
The basics of Texas law
Texas is one of the 31 states in the country that has enacted legislation that limits the amount of money that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. The Texas statute went into effect just 10 years ago in September 2003. It caps the amount of money that can be awarded for pain and suffering in any medical error claim to a maximum of $250,000. There is no limit on the amount that can be reimbursed for medical costs or lost wages.
Proponents of the law believe it has helped to lower the number of lawsuits filed and cite statistics that show the average payout for such an award in Texas currently averages about $199,000. This figure is roughly 22 percent lower than it was 10 years ago before the cap took effect.
The need for malpractice suits remains
Despite the financial cap on damages, there remains a need for people to be able to file such suits when an error has happened. Statistics from Becker's Hospital Review for 2012 indicate that a total of $3.6 billion was paid out in a total of 12,142 medical malpractice claims nationally; of those claims:
- 5 percent were paid per a judgment.
- 93 percent were paid per a settlement.
- 44 percent were for permanent injuries.
- 31 percent were for deaths.
- 12 percent were for brain damage requiring lifelong care.
From birth injuries to wrongful death, medical malpractice suits cover a myriad of situations and provide people with an important method of recourse.
Texas statute of limitations
As in other states, Texas requires medical malpractice lawsuits to be filed within a designated amount of time. Patients or their representatives or family members are required file suit within two years of the date that the error has been identified. In medical cases where ongoing treatment is being provided, that could be the last date of treatment or earlier if evidence shows that the error was identifiable earlier.
Because medical malpractice claims and the resulting lawsuits typically deal with very serious situations, the need for proper legal help cannot be understated. If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of a medical error, it is advisable to speak to an experienced attorney to learn more.