The state of Texas enacted a large-scale tort and lawsuit reform bill in 2003 that imposed certain thresholds for medical malpractice lawsuits and healthcare liability cases, especially as it pertains to limitations and capping of damages. All medical malpractice lawsuits filed after 2003 are governed by into the new set of laws.
Texas Medical Malpractice Laws
However, existing laws do not eliminate or circumvent the ability of a patient with a viable medical malpractice claim to obtain monetary damages as the result of suffering damages due to negligent medical care. Working with legal counsel, should a given patient’s medical malpractice case most likely fall under Texas jurisdiction, is highly advisable as patients are plaintiffs in a civil suit, and as such, have a burden to produce a viable claims case against the allegedly negligent medical practitioner in question.
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Texas Medical Tort Law Bans the Use of Mandatory Arbitration or Forced Alternative Dispute Resolution
Per the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code, Section 74.451, mandatory use of pre-trial mediation, arbitration, or other mandatory mediation methods, whether by private contract or attempted public law, are illegal and void in Texas.
Medical Expert Testimony and Texas Medical Malpractice Legal Requirements for Filing Suit
A party that files a medical malpractice case in Texas will have to submit an “affidavit of merit” from a qualified medical malpractice expert within 120 days of filing the case. Failure to file this certificate can affect how the statute of limitations deadlines apply to an injured party’s case. For example, if a party files a case before the expiration of the two-year deadline but then fails to follow up with a certificate of merit, his or her case may be dismissed as not complying with the statute of limitations.
The Statutes of Limitation Periods Applied to Texas Medical Malpractice Cases, as of 2016
Under the new Texas law, a party who suffers an injury due to medical malpractice must file his or her medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of the date of the injury or the date on which the injury was discovered or could have been discovered through the exercise of reasonable diligence.
Thus, for example, a physician might negligently prescribe improper medication or the wrong dosage of medication, and in turn, a patient might start taking that medication per erroneous medical advice. If a patient were to begin to experience problems several months after the original prescription date, the two-year statute of limitations deadline would likely begin to run on the date when the patient first noticed the problems, and not on the original prescription date. Likewise, if a surgeon or nurse left a tool or sponge inside of the patient during surgery and the consequences of this negligence are not discovered for some time, a patient can become a viable claimant if claims cases are filed from the reasonable date of discovery, pending the statutes of repose.
The main exception to the reasonable discovery of damages period is that Texas does not recognize any malpractice lawsuits that are filed more than ten years after the original injury or injury discovery date. Texas law also has exceptions to the filing deadline if a patient were under the age of 18 when the malpractice negligence occurred.
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Comparative Negligence, Joint Liability, and Texas Medical Malpractice Law
Texas adjudicates tort claims cases based on a modified comparative negligence standard in medical malpractice cases.
Under this standard, if given claimant or former patient is partially responsible for their injuries, such as a patient exacerbating a given instance of iatrogenic damages by ignoring subsequent medical advice, a patient’s claims value will be reduced proportionally to their degree or percentage of fault. If, however, the plaintiff is adjudicated to be more than 50% to blame for their injuries, claimants may are barred from any recovery under Texas medical malpractice law.
The contribution guidelines of the Texas medical malpractice laws include specific rules to gauge a practitioner’s and a malpractice victim’s respective responsibility for the injury. These guidelines will not affect your recovery if several physicians or medical practitioners are liable since the joint and several liability provisions of the Texas malpractice laws indicate that all joint defendants are liable severally. Each defendant is liable only for the portion of damages that equal their allotted responsibility altogether. Thus, an injured party’s relative responsibility for his or her injuries is measured against the collective responsibility of all practitioners who participated in causing the injuries.
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Damage Caps Applicable by Statute under Texas Medical Negligence Tort Law
An injured party will probably not receive a lump sum damages payment in Texas if the damages award is over $100,000, and in turn, be subject to period payments of judgment award amounts by the liable parties. In practice, Texas law requires courts to establish payment plans for awards that exceed this limit. Additionally, the tort reform actions of 2003 in Texas, as well as its subsequent amendment, placed an upper limit on certain types of damages that an injured party can recover. Damages for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses are capped in Texas at $250,000.
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