Houston Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice is the neglectful care of a patient by a physician, nurse, or health care professional. Hospital and doctor neglect can lead to serious injuries. Medical negligence can cause birth injuries and even death. Doctors and hospitals should not neglect your care. They shouldn’t breach the trust that you have in them. When they do, you need the help of a medical malpractice lawyer.
A recent Johns Hopkins patient safety study reveals that medical negligence has surpassed respiratory illness as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. That means that more people die from medical errors that lose their life on the roads, or at work. Only cancer and heart disease claim more lives than medical neglect. Medical errors don’t just happen during surgery. Patients can be given the wrong medication and even the wrong blood. Yet, contrary to some insurance estimates, few patients file suit after being harmed by medical neglect. Medical malpractice is the failure of a health care provider, including doctors and nurses, to treat patients in accordance with the medical standard of care.
Any person who brings a case for medical neglect must prove four things:
- A duty of care was owed by the physician
- The physician violated the applicable standard of care
- The patient suffered harm
- The injury was proximately caused by the poor conduct
How to Prepare for Your Initial Consultation with a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Sitting down to discuss your claim with a medical negligence attorney in Houston can help give you insight into how your case may unfold. After all, legal proceedings can be incredibly complex, and a quick Google search can leave you feeling more confused, scared, and overwhelmed than before you opened your browser.
Medical malpractice attorney Chelsie King Garza can meet with you for free to discuss your options. Here are a few ways you can prepare for your initial consultation:
- Make a List of All Your Healthcare Providers: If you are filing a medical malpractice case, it’s likely that you’ve been treated by more than one healthcare provider. From different facilities and diagnostic testing centers to a variety of doctors and specialists, your attorney will need to request medical records from each healthcare provider involved in your treatment. By compiling a list of these individuals and entities, you can help expedite this process.
- Create a Timeline of Your Treatment and Recovery: You don’t need a minute-by-minute account of the care you received, but you should summarize the most relevant parts of your treatment. Describe how and when you first developed your condition, which healthcare providers you saw for the condition, what happened during follow-ups and consultations, mistakes you believe your healthcare providers made while treating you, and which doctor or facility you visited to correct complications stemming from their malpractice. This summary can help your attorney identify any errors your healthcare providers made and whether you have grounds to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Gather Documents Relevant to Your Treatment: Documents your attorney may want to see can include your medical bills; medical records; photographs of your injuries/condition; contact details of your health insurance provider; any correspondence between you and your healthcare providers (or any insurers involved); and evidence of lost wages such as letters from your employer, tax returns, and paystubs.
- Compile a List of Questions: Meeting with an attorney is an opportunity to get concrete answers that can help you make informed decisions about your case. You likely have many questions you want to ask, but in the moment it’s easy to forget something that’s been weighing on your mind. As such, it may help to create a list of questions before meeting with your attorney. Here are a few examples: Have you handled medical malpractice lawsuits in the past? Do you specialize in this area of the law? How many medical malpractice lawsuits have you won? What are my chances of settling my claim? If opposing parties refuse to settle, do you have the time and resources to represent me during trial?
Causes of Medical Malpractice
When a medical provider fails to meet the standard of care, patients get hurt. Considering doctors and nurses deal with the life and death of their patients, they must adhere to the highest standards. Medical negligence may include:
- Poor surgical technique
- Patient falls in hospitals
- Failing to understand lab results
- Hospital nursing errors
- Improper medication or over medication
- Failure to order proper tests or recognize signs and symptoms
- Disregarding the medical technique of differential diagnosis
- Failure to diagnose a pulmonary embolism
- Postoperative care errors
- Anesthesia malpractice
- Pediatric medical negligence
The most common reason for medical malpractice lawsuits is failure to diagnose at 33%. Failure to treat accounts for 18% of medical errors. Surgical errors make up 24% of medical malpractice cases. Regardless of the cause, medical neglect must be addressed.
Medical Neglect Can Cause Great Harm
Doctors, nurses, and health care professionals are entrusted with patients’ lives. When they neglect their duty of care, patients are harmed. Neglect on the part of a doctor, nurse, and physician’s assistants can cause:
- Brain injuries
- Permanent brain damage
- Paralysis and quadriplegia
- Loss of limbs
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish
If you have been the victim of medical neglect, it is important to get the care you need. Medical bills, medications, co-pays, and medical equipment can cost a lot. Victims may have long periods when they cannot work. They may never be able to work again. It is important when hiring an attorney, to find someone who will fight for you. You need someone who will get all of your damages covered.
Common Types of Damages Available to Medical Malpractice Victims
If you were injured due to medical malpractice, you may be able to recover a wide variety of damages, such as your medical bills, lost wages, and compensation for your physical and mental suffering. The losses available to you and your family will depend on the unique circumstances of your case.
Let’s explore the three categories of damages typically available to medical malpractice victims:
- General Damages: General damages are intended to reimburse the patient for the suffering they’ve endured as a result of the medical malpractice. These types of damages can include mental and physical pain, loss of future earning capacity, and loss of enjoyment of life. There are no set rules for calculating or proving the value of such losses. Typically, attorneys will call on expert witnesses to provide deposition or testify regarding the usual consequences of the patient’s injury. A vocational expert might map out the patient’s expected career trajectory—had the medical malpractice not occurred—and explain how their condition has affected their income earning potential. Alternatively, a medical specialist might provide insight into the pain the patient is experiencing.
- Special Damages: This category of losses encompasses any quantifiable expenses caused by the medical malpractice such as the patient’s medical bills, lost income, home modifications, alternative transportation expenses, and other costs.
- Punitive Damages: In some scenarios, the patient may be able to seek punitive damages. Unlike the losses listed above, these damages don’t exist to reimburse the plaintiff but rather to punish the defendant for their behavior. To obtain punitive damages, you will need to show that the medical malpractice resulted from gross negligence, fraud, or malice.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
Typically, you will have two years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas. As such, if you attempt to bring a lawsuit outside of this strict window, your case will likely be dismissed. However, you may be wondering when the clock starts ticking. After all, you may only discover that your doctor was negligent years after your treatment was completed.
The statute does allow for a few exceptions for patients in such situations. For instance, if you only discovered that medical negligence had occurred long after this deadline expired, you may still be able to file a lawsuit. Texas law gives patients a “reasonable” timeframe after discovery to bring a claim against the liable parties. Additionally, minors under age 12 have up until they turn 14 to file a suit. Keep in mind that if it was a government employee who was responsible for the medical malpractice that caused your injuries, you will have just six months to bring a case.
As a variety of factors can affect this “deadline”, it may be in your best interests to contact a skilled medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer with experience in this area of the law can review your situation to determine how much longer you have left to file a lawsuit. He or she will also need adequate time to investigate the medical malpractice that occurred, gather and compile documents and other evidence, and build your case—a process that may take months to complete.
Hire a Houston Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Chelsie King Garza has years of experience handling medical malpractice cases. Ms. Garza will fight hard for you. If you need a medical malpractice lawyer in Houston, contact Chelsie King Garza today for a free consultation.