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We trust doctors; we have to. We literally place our lives in their hands and depend on them to give us the correct advice and recommend treatment that will heal us. Doctors, nurses and their staff are vitally important members of our society – we could not live without them. They have a lot of responsibility and are well-paid for the work that they do. And we expect them to do their work correctly. The consequences of doctors and nurses abusing their position or failing to perform their work in a responsible way can be catastrophic.
Medical malpractice occurs anytime a healthcare provider breaches the accepted standards of care for a person’s treatment and causes an injury. Medical malpractice can be as obvious as leaving a surgical tool in a person’s body during a surgery or as complicated as failing to perform a procedure that results in a premature birth.
The law of medical malpractice is extremely biased in favor of the healthcare providers in Texas. Our legislature, with the stated goal of keeping health insurance premiums down (it didn’t), enacted legislation in 2004 that made medical malpractice cases more expensive to bring and worthless. The thinking was that if cases are expensive and less valuable, fewer lawyers will be willing to take them and there will be fewer lawsuits. Our legislature was certainly successful there.
In order to bring a medical malpractice suit, the injured person is required to serve an expert report within 120 days of filing suit. This means you must have a medical (MD) expert (expensive) every time, even if the case is as obvious as a scalpel left inside a person after a surgery.
Once the suit is initiated, recovery is limited. A plaintiff can still recover for economic losses, like lost wages or medical bills, but recovery is limited to $250,000 for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, disfigurement and impairment. This may seem like plenty of money, especially considering the injured party can still recover his or her medical bills and lost wages. And I think that is what the legislature thought, too. But consider this situation, which comes up all the time. An 80-year-old lady, someone’s mom, dies of neglect in a nursing home – bedsores, starvation, perhaps even assault – because the nursing home simply did not care. Her estate’s claim would be limited to $250,000 because she was not working and has no medical bills (she was killed). When you consider that experts, filing fees, and deposition costs nearly always exceed $100,000 in a case like that, it quickly becomes economically unfeasible to pursue the case. Not only is that a horrible outcome for the family, but it also allows the nursing home to neglect our elderly with no fear of the consequences. For those who do not think that happens, take a look at the news articles from the Lopez case,
news articles from the Lopez case, handled by the Merman Law Firm in 2014.
Medical malpractice happens daily. The cases are difficult from a legal and scientific perspective. You need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to steer through the pitfalls. Call the Merman Law Firm to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney today.