Our San Antonio medical malpractice attorneys are committed to fighting for victims of medical negligence throughout Texas. Even though Texas law makes medical malpractice claims especially difficult, we pride ourselves in fighting to get justice for those who have been seriously injured by negligent doctors, nurses, and hospital staff.
We have the experience and resources need to take on hospitals, doctors, and their insurance company lawyers head on.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare entity or medical professional has done harm to a patient during the course of their medical treatment. In order for this to be classified as malpractice, however, it must be deemed “negligent.”
Negligence generally occurs when a healthcare provider violates the “standard of care” generally accepted in the medical field. However, the standard of care changes depending on a number of factors; including age, preexisting health conditions, etc. In Texas, the bases of the standard of care are determined on how the general healthcare industry is treating patients in the area with similar conditions.
Examples of Medical Mistakes that Could Be Deemed Negligence
- Surgical errors
- Medication errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Birth-related injuries or improper prenatal care
- Medical errors
- Nursing care errors
- Psychiatric care suicide
- Failure to diagnose
- Medical omissions
- Failure to order a surgery in a timely manner
Our San Antonio medical malpractice attorneys have the experience needed to prosecute complex medical malpractice cases, and we fight to get our clients the compensation they need to get their lives back on track.
Why Is It So Hard To Find a San Antonio Malpractice Lawyer To Take My Case?
One thing that victims of medical malpractice in Texas soon realize is that its not so easy finding an attorney to take their case. This leaves the victims in a bad situation, with no help in sight. But why is it so hard to find a injury lawyers or a medical malpractice law firm who will take a malpractice case in Texas?
This is because in 2003 the Texas legislature enacted the Medical Liability Act, which was aimed at doing away with medical malpractice claims, including even legitimate claims. These laws made most medical malpractice claims too expensive to pursue, thus discouraging San Antonio medical negligence attorneys from taking the vast majority of Texas medical malpractice cases.
There have been significant changes in healthcare legislation since the early 2000s. Before the legal structure changed it was possible for injury victims to receive adequate compensation for medical negligence caused by a physician. Now, it’s nearly impossible for injured victims to find an attorney or a Texas medical malpractice law firm who will take their case unless there are significant damages involved.
How Do Texas Laws Hurt Medical Malpractice Victims?
The Medical Liability Act provided for two big changes that hurts victims of medical malpractice:
- It placed caps on damages that can be recovered against any single doctor or medical facility. No matter how bad the injuries, a victim is capped at $250,000 for non-economic damages.
- It imposed a requirement that the injured victim pay for and file an expert report early on in the case.
Caps on Damages
With caps on damages in place, it restricted the amount that a victim can receive, thus significantly reducing the value of a medical malpractice case. According to the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the most an individual can receive for “noneconomic damages” – meaning intangible damages such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, etc. is $250,000. If the victim dies, his or her heirs will be limited to $500,000 maximum recovery no matter how many medical providers are involved, or how grievous the offense or negligence.
Even though $250,000 may sound like a lot of money, when you consider the economics behind a medical malpractice lawsuit you soon realize why many medical lawyers will turn down an average medical malpractice case. First, the expert fees to produce the report and testify at trial can range from $10,000 to $50,000. There are also depositions that must be completed, and medical records that will be subpoenaed, which can quickly add another $20,000 to $50,000 to a case. Keep in mind, the Texas attorney pays for all of these costs and only gets reimbursed if he or she wins your case.
Additionally, because defense malpractice lawyers know that the most they’ll have to pay is capped at $250,000, they have no incentive to offer the victim anywhere near that amount. After all, they can take their chances at trial and are no worse off because the most they will ever have to pay is $250,000. As a result, nearly every medical malpractice claim in Texas will have to proceed to trial in order for the victim to receive the $250,000 amount.
When you add up all of these costs that a San Antonio medical malpractice attorney must cover to bring a medical malpractice case, it’s not hard to see why most attorneys in Texas will turn down the average medical malpractice claim – the risk is just not worth the reward (this is exactly the consequence the Texas Legislature intended when it created the law).
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code also implemented the expert report requirement, meaning that anyone filing a healthcare liability claim must also file an expert report claim within 120 days of filing the lawsuit. The courts may grant a one time 30-day extension but failure to get the expert report in a timely manner will result in the dismissal of your lawsuit.
This can be a huge liability for a medical negligence lawyer. If the medical expert they hire does an unacceptable job with their report – it can result in the lawyer being sued for legal malpractice. Lawyers in Texas will not take this risk for a case that seems questionable or hard-to-prove causation. There is too much financial risk when compared to the potential rewards.
In addition, the medical experts who review the medical records and write the expert reports can charge anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars for their time. They also charge additionally to testify in court. Thus, the export report can cost anywhere from 10,000 – 50,000 for the attorney.
Texas Medical Liability Act Unfairly Punishes Women and Elderly Persons
Another consequence of the Texas Medical Liability Act is that it unfairly punishes some women and elderly persons. The Medical Liability Act and it’s restrictions create a situation where essentially the only viable malpractice cases are those for which there is ongoing economic harm, such as lost wages, etc.
As a result, the law is prejudicial against stay at home moms and retired persons because these groups of people generally don’t have ongoing economic hard in the form of “lost future wages.” It’s difficult to understand why the Texas legislature would establish law that punishes these victims, yet that is precisely what the law does.
Getting Help If You’re the Victim of Medical Malpractice
Medical liability reform in Texas has made it extremely difficult for victims of medical malpractice and injury attorneys to successfully file and receive adequate compensation from doctors and hospitals for their negligence. The act has made most malpractice claims in Texas economically unfeasible, which is why many victims of medical negligence in Texas will have a very hard time finding a lawyer to represent them.
Texas Medical Malpractice Laws
Unfortunately, the Texas legislature has crafted laws that are aimed at punishing victims and discouraging them from bringing medical malpractice claims (which benefits only the insurance companies). Additionally, the Texas Supreme Court generally sides with hospitals and healthcare providers in Medical Malpractice claims and has created case laws that can make it difficult of malpractice victims to get fair compensation.
Sadly, both the Texas legislature and the Texas Supreme Court have created a number of “hoops” for injured victims to jump through before injured victims can pursue a medical malpractice claim.
In order to pursue a case, you will have to prove the following:
- There was a doctor-patient relationship
- The care provided fell below the standard of care
- There is a clear connection between the medical negligence and the harm done to the patient
- The breach of the standard of care resulted in significant damage or loss of life.
Proving Liability in a Medical Malpractice Case
If you were the victim of medical malpractice in Texas, the deck is stacked against you and favors the doctors, hospitals, and their insurance companies. This is because in 2003 the Texas legislature passed laws that make winning a medical malpractice case very difficult and expensive. The result: victims are punished, and finding a lawyer who will take your case has become increasingly difficult.
To prove a medical malpractice case, the injured person or their San Antonio medical negligence lawyer will need to show that they were seriously injured because of the carelessness, incompetence, or neglect on the part of the doctor, hospital, staff, or healthcare provider. As a result of unfair Texas medical malpractice laws, these cases require a large amount of time, research, and money to be presented successfully. This is because to win your case, your malpractice attorney must prove that:
- A doctor, nurse, hospital staff, or other healthcare provider owed the patient a duty;
- The duty to the patient was violated because the healthcare provider’s actions or omissions fell below the “standard of care,” meaning they did not do what a reasonable provider would have done under the same or similar circumstances; and
- The healthcare provider or hospital’s actions (or omissions) actually caused the injuries to the patient.
Texas law requires that the medical malpractice attorney obtain an expert opinion regarding the elements outlined above and that the expert draws his conclusions from the medical records (which are often changed or altered). These expert opinions are expensive, and take a lot of time to prepare. That is why it’s critical to have the right lawyer fighting for you!
Can Hospitals and Nurses Also Be Found Liable For Medical Malpractice?
Yes, nurses and other hospital staff can be held liable for Medical Malpractice in Texas. Medical Malpractice is not limited to doctors, but to any medical professional, including nurses, physician assistants, or CNAs that have acted negligently, resulting in the serious injury of a patient.
Nurses and doctors are generally employees of hospitals, thus hospitals can also be partially at fault through “vicarious liability,” meaning a party is held responsible not for its own negligence, but for the negligence of another who was acting on their behalf.
Nurses, like any other medical professional, can be held responsible in a medical malpractice case. You must prove that a nurse was negligent in their care and that negligence resulted in injury to the patient. Sometimes these injuries involve the progression/worsening of the patient’s condition as a result of the nurse’s negligence.
For example, a nurse who administered the incorrect dosage of medication prescribed by a physician. In order to prove negligence, you must show that the nurse’s actions were below the “standard of care,” meaning other nurses with similar situations would not make the same mistake.
A hospital is responsible for its employees and staff including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, CNAs, physician assistants, etc. This means that a hospital must take the appropriate measures in reviewing their applicant’s education, training, and licensing. If the hospital fails to administer the appropriate background check for or fails to adequately train their medical staff, they could be deemed liable if a staff member’s negligence is the direct cause of a patient’s injuries or worsening of their condition.
A hospital can also be held liable for their own negligence if they fail to investigate the credentials of their attending physician before granting them privileges at the hospital. A hospital can also be liable if they hire an attending physician who they know is incompetent to treat patients.
Medical malpractice claims are not limited to physicians. If a medical professional, including a nurse or a medical staff at the hospital, has contributed to the worsening of a patient’s condition, then they can be deemed liable. If you or a family member have been injured by a nurse or hospital it is imperative you hire an experienced attorney quickly. Don’t let the hospitals get away with their negligence, contact us today and receive the compensation you deserve to get your life back on track.
Is Failure To Diagnose a Condition Medical Malpractice In Texas?
A failure to diagnose a condition can be considered medical malpractice in Texas, and it has been the cause of many malpractice lawsuits in the state.
However, because of Texas’ strict medical malpractice laws, to have a good case a physician’s diagnosis error must lead to incorrect treatment, delayed treatment, or no treatment at all, AND the patient suffered significant life-altering consequences or death as a result.
If you or a loved one has suffered increased illness, complications, or death because a physician’s failure to diagnose or incorrect diagnosis, a skilled medical malpractice attorney or wrongful death lawyer from San Antonio can help answer your questions, and give you the guidance you need.
Trusted Local Medical Malpractice Law Firm
Because of Texas laws, medical negligence and malpractice cases can be extremely difficult to prove. That’s why it’s essential to have an experienced attorney from San Antonio on your side who can assist you through the process, and help you navigate all of the many traps and pitfalls that can destroy your case.
The Barrus medical malpractice law firm fights, one patient at a time, to hold doctors, staff, and hospitals accountable for the quality of care provided to their patients. We fight to protect the rights of patients and their families when medical negligence and failed or incorrect diagnosis have caused irreparable harm or death. Our aggressive representation of victims of medical malpractice helps ensure our clients get the best results possible in their cases.
Some of the cities in Bexar County which our negligence lawyers serve include: San Antonio, Kirby, Leon Valley, Converse, Live Oak, Universal City, Schertz, New Braunfels, Pleasanton, Seguin, Canyon Lake, Hondo, San Marcos, Kyle, Kerryville and Lockhart.