How To Prove Medical Malpractice
Medical Malpractice comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be hard to differentiate from a doctor’s mistake and actual negligence. Malpractice occurs when a patient undergoes harm due to a medical practitioner of any kind (doctor, nurse, dentist…) failing to perform his or her duties completely. There are many specific laws concerning when and how a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed. Here’s the general process of filing a lawsuit and a few Texas specific laws.
First, you must know what is actually considered “malpractice.” Below is a list of common medical malpractice occurrences that are brought to court.
- Delayed diagnosis
- Childbirth Injuries - during and after pregnancy
- Anesthesia Errors
- Surgery Errors
Each of these cases can be life threatening. In order to hold the medical practitioner liable for their mistake, you must follow specific guidelines, much like many other civil lawsuits. The basic four requirements of a medical malpractice case include:
- A definite doctor/patient relationship exists - this means both the patient and the doctor agree to the examination and treatment.
- The doctor was negligent in their actions, meaning the doctor was competent enough to perform the proper treatment and failed to do so. You cannot sue a doctor because you don’t agree with their methods if it is a valid treatment. The court uses specific language that the doctor must be “reasonably skillful and careful.”
- The doctor’s negligence directly caused injury. Proving this involves an expert witness to conclude that the patient in fact was harmed directly because of the negligence and not because of the sickness or injury that initially brought the patient in.
- The patient was actually harmed. If a doctor is negligent but no harm is done, there are no grounds to sue. If the patient endures physical pain, mental distress, additional medical bills or loss of ability to work, they are eligible to sue for medical malpractice.
Like most personal injury cases, there are specific laws per state that limit how and why a patient can sue for medical malpractice. In Texas, the patient must notify the medical practitioner of their malpractice 60 days before filing the lawsuit, of which also must be filed within 2 years of the personal injury. Texas law also enforces monetary reward caps. A patient can earn no more than $250,000 for non-economic damages, like mental distress or pain and suffering, from a medical practitioner. It goes on to specify that hospitals can only be sued for up to $250,000 as well. In total, a medical malpractice victim is limited to $500,00 as reward for non-economic damages.
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to medical malpractice, contact Colley & Colley law firm in the Tyler, Texas area for a free consultation.