The state of Texas is no stranger to medical malpractice lawsuits. The state has been one of the top states in the nation regarding cases filed against healthcare providers. As a result, the laws relating to medical malpractice lawsuits have been amended several times since 1970. The state ranked tenth in medical malpractice payouts among all states between 2009-2018, paying out $945.92 million to victims. However, things have slowed down, as Texas ranked 29th for medical malpractice claims per capita, 49th in dollar amounts paid for medical malpractice cases ($3.20 per capita) and has seen a 22% decrease in the average payout, which was $199,000 per claim. If you or someone you know has been the victim of medical malpractice in Texas, it’s important to understand the specific laws and regulations that the state has when it comes to your lawsuit. In this article, you will find information regarding Texas laws on medical malpractice, information on the statute of limitations, and how much compensation you can expect to receive, as well as helpful resources to aid you in your lawsuit.
Law of Statute of Limitations in Texas
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Texas is defined in Section 74.251 of the Texas Civil Remedies and Practice Code. It is stated that when filing a claim for medical malpractice must be filed within two years of the date of the negligent act or the date of the last relevant course of treatment. There are some exceptions to this law, however, that specifically deal with medical malpractice on minors. Minors under the age of twelve in Texas have until their 14th birthday to file a suit or have someone else file a lawsuit for them. In cases where the victim did not know about the error on the date of the incident, Texas courts will not hold much weight on whether the victim should have known or not. Their two-year “clock” starts the day of the alleged incident, regardless of whether they know about an error.
Texas Statute of Repose
Texas's unique Statute of Repose is an interesting law regarding medical malpractice. It almost negates the initial statute of limitations, as it allows a victim of medical malpractice to file a claim within ten years of the date of the incident. The statute states that regardless of when the injury caused by the medical malpractice is discovered or when treatment has ended, the victim has ten years from the date of the alleged incident to come forward and file the claim with the courts. The courts will almost certainly dismiss any case brought forward past the ten-year deadline.
Duty to Notify
In Texas, victims of medical malpractice are required by state law to provide written notice to any and all healthcare providers, insurance companies, and medical professionals that will be named in the lawsuit before they have filed the case with the courts. The notice must be delivered to the provider(s) and companies at least 60 days before the case is filed. The victims must deliver the notice via certified mail with a return receipt requested. Along with the notice, victims must also provide the healthcare providers with an authorization form for the release of protected health information so that they can investigate the victim's claims. This law helps prevent any legal complications in the case.
Expert Report Law
In Texas medical malpractice lawsuits, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. They must prove that a breach of duty happened and that this error or violation directly caused injury to the victim. The plaintiff is expected to establish a causal link between the negligence of the medical professional and the harm suffered by providing convincing testimony from trained medical experts to accomplish this. Plaintiffs are legally obligated to submit an expert report to the court and all other parties. For this, an expert that is appointed to the specific case would produce a report with important facts about the case and their professional opinion on the issue at hand. The report has to include information about the appropriate standard of care, how the defendant failed to meet those standards, and the causal relationship between the negligent act and the injury to the victim. The report must be submitted 120 days after the case is filed.
“Non-Economic Damages” Cap in Texas Medical Malpractice Cases
Many states carry a law that puts a cap on damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, and Texas is one of those states, except that they put a cap on “non-economic damages” only. Non-economic damages include compensation for things like pain and suffering, anxiety and stress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages or losses deemed to be subjective due to the defendant’s malpractice. Economic damages are not capped in Texas, including financial losses like medical bills, wages, or income. Under Texas law, the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded per claimant is $250,000. There is a cap of $500,000 in non-economic damages for each claimant for claims against multiple healthcare institutions, and one institution cannot be held liable for more than $250,000 per claimant.
Adjusted Liability During Pandemic
In 2021, Texas adjusted its liability laws for healthcare providers and first responders during a pandemic or a state-announced medical state of emergency. If a patient is being treated for the associated pandemic disease or illness, then healthcare providers like registered nurses, dentists, podiatrists, pharmacists, chiropractors, optometrists, and most healthcare institutions are exempt from liability unless it can be proven that they acted with “gross negligence” that led to harm.
Texas Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Requirements
Texas does not require by law that doctors obtain medical malpractice insurance coverage if they or one of their nurses commits an error. However, this does not mean that they do not have to have coverage. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities may mandate that providers have malpractice coverage to work there. Typically, doctors will obtain coverage depending on their specialties and the type of care they provide or perform. The liability limits in Texas are $200k/$600k, meaning that the insurance company will cover the doctor during the policy period up to $200,000 per claim with a cap of $600,000 for the year.
How Much Can Someone Sue For Medical Malpractice in Texas?
Texas has no cap on how much someone can sue for medical malpractice, but only for economic damages. This includes lost wages, potential future income, financial losses, and medical bills, among others. However, for non-economic damages like anxiety and stress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other subjective losses caused by medical malpractice, there is a cap of $250,000 per claimant. If the case is against multiple healthcare institutions, there is an overall cap of $500,000 per claimant for non-economic damages and a cap of $250,000 per institution per claimant.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Texas for Medical Malpractice?
The statute of limitations in Texas for medical malpractice lawsuits is specified as two years from the date the malpractice event occurred. If the error was a result of medical treatment, the two-year clock starts on the last day of the treatment. Medical patients under twelve have until their 14th birthday to file the lawsuit themselves or have someone file it for them. Texas also features a statute of repose law that allows victims of medical malpractice to file a case within ten years of the date that the negligent act happened, no matter when they discovered the injury or treatment ended. Any case filed after this ten-year period will likely not be heard by the courts.
Legal Resources for Medical Malpractice Victims in Texas
Finding helpful resources may be challenging if you or someone you know has been the victim of medical malpractice in Texas. These cases can be very complex and difficult emotionally and financially. Get the help you need and the compensation you deserve! In this section, you will find helpful resources to aid you in your Texas medical malpractice lawsuit.
CARE for Accident Victims
CARE for Accident Victims is a non-profit organization that specializes in finding support services and resources for the victims and families of victims during and after an accident in Texas. This organization specializes in helping victims of medical malpractice accidents, auto accidents, sports injuries, and more in Texas. They will support and assist the victims and their families in helping them get through their medical malpractice lawsuits. To find more information about what CARE for Accident Victims can do to help you, contact them on their website located here.
National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association
The National Medical Malpractice Advocacy Association (NMMAA) was founded in 2013 by a collection of people who were victims of medical malpractice or knew someone who was. According to them, the NMMAA is the first non-partisan civil rights organization of its kind with patient advocates throughout the United States. Their organization dedicates itself as a national network to end medical malpractice through partnerships with local and national organizations across America. The NMMAA is the first and only organization that has received numerous proclamations from states across the United States for its advocacy related to medical malpractice. Find out about their mission on their website, located here.
Medical Review Foundation
The Medical Review Foundation offers credible expert medical witnesses for medical malpractice lawsuits and can supply attorneys to victims if needed. They have nearly four decades of experience in assisting both victims and doctors in malpractice lawsuits with the goal of assisting in improving the healthcare system in America. They have helped in cases involving Medical & Hospital Malpractice, Wrongful Death, Nursing Home Negligence & Personal Injury. They feature a team of medical professionals who have consulted on over 165,000 Medical & Hospital Malpractice, Wrongful Death, Nursing Home Negligence & Personal Injury cases since 1976. To contact them, you can visit their website located here.
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