MEDICAL MALPRACTICE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Texas

We understand that treatment should come as a first priority following an injury. However, sometimes it is the treatment itself that left 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 medical malpractice statutes of limitations 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 their 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.

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.

There are a few exceptions when it comes to Texas’ statute of limitations for medical malpractice. They are if the:

  1. injured party is a minor;
  2. negligent health care professional is a government employee;
  3. negligence wasn’t discovered until after the expiration of the statute of limitations;
  4. 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 may 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 has passed.  

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 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. 

Contact Houston Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

If you believe you’ve suffered an injury as a result of medical malpractice, call the 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.

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