STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE TEXAS
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS TEXAS
We understand that treatment should come as a first priority following an injury. However, sometimes it is the treatment itself that leaves you injured. In this case, you may have a medical malpractice lawsuit on your hands. Medical malpractice claims can be extremely complex and many times involve a lengthy process of discovery.
This includes collecting medical records, preparing expert reports, dissolving the other side’s witnesses, and preparing for settlement or trial. Though the process of discovery for a medical malpractice suit is lengthy, the amount of time you have to file one is not. Here, our attorneys at Reich & Binstock will explain more about the statute of limitations medical malpractice Texas.
Our attorneys have a deep understanding of Texas medical malpractice laws. For this reason, our Houston personal injury lawyers are more than qualified to handle your case. To schedule your free consultation with us, please call 713-622-7271 today.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Texas?
If you’re in the process of healing from a traumatic experience or have recently discovered that you’re injured, you probably aren’t thinking too much about how long you have left to file a lawsuit. However, you probably should be. Every state provides laws that mandate how long someone has to file a lawsuit after an injury, accident, or incident. For example, in the state of California, you have three years to file a property damage claim. For wrongful death, though, you have two years. For slander, only one.
Most states allow between 1-3 years to file a lawsuit for most areas of law. After that time limit has expired, the plaintiff no longer has the ability to obtain compensation. Every state abides by its own statute of limitations, with different lengths of time assigned to either criminal or civil suits. A medical malpractice case possesses its own statute of limitations.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Texas for Medical Malpractice?
For the most part, the statute of limitations in the state of Texas for medical malpractice is two years. This means that a citizen wishing to bring a medical malpractice suit against someone must do so no later than two years after the date of the negligent act, omission, or practice. After that point, the case becomes barred and cannot go forward in a Texas court of law. However, there are instances where this may be challenged.
What Are Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations Exceptions?
There are a few exceptions when it comes to Texas’ statute of limitations for medical malpractice. These exceptions are as follows.
- Injured party is a minor
- Negligent health care professional is a government employee
- Negligence wasn’t discovered until after the expiration of the statute of limitations
- Treatment was provided over a continued course of time
In many areas of the law, exceptions come when a minor is involved. The same goes for medical malpractice. The Texas medical malpractice statute asserts that minors have until they are 14 to file suit. Any minor who is injured before they reach the age of 12 has until age 14 to file a claim. For example, if your child was injured when they were seven years old, he or she can file suit at any point before they turn 14.
If the medical provider who committed malpractice was a government employee, your statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is minimized to six months.
If the negligence of a medical provider wasn’t discovered until after the two-year statute expired, there might be limited circumstances where a patient can still file a claim. Under the Open Courts provision of the Texas Constitution, the patient must file the claim within a “reasonable” amount of time after the discovery of malpractice to receive the right to sue.
If the malpractice occurred as a result of continuing treatment over a period of time, the patient may argue that the two-year statute should not have begun counting down until the later end of treatment rather than from the beginning.
Despite any of these exceptions, if the claim is filed more than 10 years after the act or omission occurred, it will automatically be invalid. This is what is called the Texas Statute of Repose, which bars any medical malpractice claim from remaining eligible after ten years have passed.
Texas Caps Non-Economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
Many people are unaware of the portion of Texas law that places a cap on Texas medical malpractice compensation. In fact, many other states have this same cap on damages. Laws like these are controversial, as they can greatly affect your settlement amount or judgment award.
Luckily, Texas’s damage cap applies only to non-economic damages and not economic damages. Below, we list the most important portions of this Texas law that malpractice claimants should be aware of.
- Per-claimant cap: $250,000 on non-economic damages
- Cases against one institution: per-claimant cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages
- Cases against more than one institution: per-claimant cap of $500,000 on non-economic damages
- One healthcare institution may not be responsible for more than $250,000 in non-economic damages per claimant.
What Are Non-Economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases?
As opposed to economic damages, non-economic damages are more subjective in nature. In other words, they are not easy to quantify. Economic damages are also referred to as “financial losses.” Examples of economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity.
Non-economic damages are less financial and more personal in nature. Examples include the following.
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Because these damages tend to be more difficult to prove, we recommend speaking with a Texas medical malpractice attorney. The law firm of Reich & Binstock is dedicated to representing those who suffer a medical error or mistake at the hands of a negligent doctor.
What Is the Average Settlement for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Texas?
While it doesn’t help an injured party to know what the average recovery amount is for medical malpractice claims in Texas, it’s important to recognize this average. Despite the caps on non-economic damages for medical malpractice claims, the average award is around $200,000.
This figure comes mostly from the fact that there is no cap on economic damages for a medical malpractice claim in Texas. However, keep in mind that there is no guarantee as to the compensation you will receive for your case.
Each Texas medical malpractice lawsuit differs in terms of the specifics of the case. While one injured patient may have suffered permanent disability or injury, another patient’s claims may be minor. We recommend speaking with a medical malpractice attorney about your case to have a better understanding of its value.
Is Medical Malpractice Difficult to Prove?
Putting together a successful medical malpractice case to take to court is one of the more challenging areas of law. Even for the most experienced lawyers, proving medical malpractice can be quite a large and difficult task. In these cases, the causation of harm is often the most difficult element to prove.
The easier part to prove is that the medical provider in question deviated from the standard of care, which then resulted in harm. The court must determine (with the help of medical experts) what the appropriate standard of care should have been under the given circumstances. They must then assess whether that standard of care was met or deviated from.
What is harder to prove is that the below-standard care they received was the actual cause of the harm that the patient suffered. For example, in the case of surgery, there are several complications that are known and accepted as risks of the procedure. Even when remaining within the standard of care, surgeries can go wrong. This is why it is difficult to prove that the medical professional was actually negligent or if the harm was one of the risks of the surgery.
What Is the Statute of Repose in Texas Medical Malpractice Cases?
A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations, but they are not the same. Texas has a 10-year statute of repose. This 10-year statute bars claimants from filing medical malpractice lawsuits more than 10 years after the negligent act or failure to act occurred. Additionally, this bar will usually override any of the above exceptions to the statute of limitations.
Contact Houston Medical Malpractice Attorneys Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out
If you believe you’ve suffered an injury as a result of medical malpractice, call the Houston medical malpractice attorneys at Reich & Binstock today. If you aren’t sure whether you might have a compensable injury, then call us anyway and make sure. We offer free initial consultations where we can examine your case and tell you if your claim may be compensable. Call 713-622-7271 or 800-622-7271 toll free or use our contact form below to schedule a consultation now.
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.