Medical Malpractice Attorney in San Antonio
Holding Medical Professionals Accountable for Negligence & Wrongdoing in San Antonio
Injuries resulting from medical malpractice can be difficult to comprehend. We trust our safety and lives to individuals whom we assume to be competent medical professionals. We rarely consider how a routine doctor’s visit could turn into our worst nightmare. Unfortunately, when a physician or medical practitioner neglects to protect the safety and well-being of his or her patients, injury or death may result. Our faith in the medical profession is then shaken to the core.
The medical field is, and should be, a trusted profession. At the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover, we believe that each individual should be able to trust their illnesses or injuries to a respected physician, without concern for exacerbation of their condition due to negligence. While most healthcare services are provided without incident or error, sometimes physicians or medical staff make mistakes. These mistakes can result in injury, debilitation, or even death.
What is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Malpractice?
The most distinctive difference between medical negligence and malpractice is intent.
- Medical Negligence: a mistake that resulted in the patient’s unintended harm.
- Medical Malpractice: when a medical professional knowingly didn’t follow the proper standard of care. The doctors/nurses knew this could have been prevented and the outcome would have been different if alternative measures were taken.
Statute of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Cases in Texas
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is the same for personal injury cases in Texas, which is two years. This means you have two years from the date of your injury to file a claim or you may lose your right to compensation.
Exemptions to the Statue of Limitations
There are some exceptions to the two-year rule, however, which can be broken up into four main categories.
These categories are:
- Negligent government workers
- Continuing treatment
For all medical malpractice cases, there is a statute of repose of ten years. This means that no matter what exception you qualify for, you only have ten years from the date of your injury to file a claim.
If your injury incurred through the course of continuing treatment, rather then just one event such as a botched surgery, you may be able to extend the statute of limitations by arguing the injury incurred later in the course of treatment rather than at the beginning.
Date of Discovery
if an injury victim does not discover their injury until after two years from the date of the injury they are still eligible to file a claim as long as they do so within a reasonable time period. The law does not specify what “reasonable” means, but rather determines it on a case by case basis. As a general guideline, it is best to file as soon as possible to avoid complications.
Claims Against Government Workers
Some clinics and hospitals across Texas are operated by the government, making their employees government workers. If you are injured by a government worker the statute of limitations is much shorter, being only six months.
Claims for Minors and Parents
The statute of limitations for minors is not a clear law. Generally speaking a minor has until the age of 14 to file a claim. A separate claim can be filed by parents to pay for the medical expenses of their child as long as the child is under the age of 18. These claims are subject to the normal two years statute of limitations.
Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code
Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code outlines how healthcare liability cases must be handled according to Texas law. Chapter 64 defines a “healthcare liability claim” as
“A cause of action against a health care provider or physician for treatment, lack of treatment, or other claimed departure from accepted standards of medical care, or health care, or safety or professional or administrative services directly related to health care, which proximately results in injury to or death of a claimant, whether the claimant’s claim or cause of action sounds in tort or contract.”
This legislation explains steps that are crucial to pursuing a viable medical malpractice claim, the most notable being the requirement to give notice of a claim. By law, an injury victim must give written notice that they are intending to file a medical malpractice claim at least 60 days before a claim is filed. If this rule is not followed your claim will most likely be invalid and you will not be able to file again.
While this rule is one with harsh consequences if not followed correctly, it can work in the claimant’s favor. As long as the notice letter has been sent within the two-year statute of limitations it is possible to “toll,” or extend, the statute of limitations by 75 days.
Four Critical Components of Medical Malpractice
There is a high evidential burden placed on the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case, making such claims among the most difficult to pursue. You cannot simply want to bring a lawsuit against your medical provider because you did not agree with their diagnosis or treatment methods. Even if you know your medical provider hurt you, there is still a chance that a court will not find your case compelling or even valid if what happened does not meet the legal definition of medical malpractice.
In most cases, medical malpractice only occurs if four prerequisites are met:
- Doctor-patient relationship: Medical malpractice claims generally stand upon doctor-patient relationships, which means the medical provider acknowledged the plaintiff was their patient and the patients acknowledged that the defendant was their medical provider. While this might seem like an obvious connection at first, doctor-patient relationships do not exist in many medical settings, namely emergency care centers and crises.
- Unacceptable standard of care: All medical care procedures need to follow widely accepted standards of care. When a medical provider wants to step outside of those guidelines, they are expected to notify the patient and thoroughly consult with other medical professionals in relevant fields before proceeding. Failing to take these steps and doing anything outside of the accepted standard of care, either intentionally or accidentally, may constitute medical malpractice.
- Injury or worsening of condition: The treatment or decision in question during a medical malpractice claim or suit must have caused an injury and/or worsened or prolonged a condition. Inaction can worsen a patient’s condition, such as not running the appropriate tests to diagnose a specific form of cancer. If a medical provider breaks the acceptable standards of medical care but no injury is caused and no condition is worsened or prolonged, then it might be argued that technically no medical malpractice occurred.
- Damages: The harm caused by a medical provider’s mistakes often must result in additional economic damages experienced by the patient. Higher medical bills or more days away from work are two clear ways that economic damage can occur in a medical malpractice claim. Yet, if the patient only experiences noneconomic damage due to a doctor’s mistake, then there might not be a valid claim to file. Noneconomic damages are emotional trauma, mental scarring, pain, suffering, and so on.
Proving Fault in a Bexar County Medical Malpractice Claim
Why is it necessary to retain a medical malpractice attorney in San Antonio who has experience in medical malpractice suits? Unlike other personal injury cases, the burden of proof is based on the testimony of physicians as well as the study of medical records. Your San Antonio medical malpractice lawyer must know the law in relation to the medical field, understand medical facts, comprehend medical terminology, and effectively prepare cross-examination questions that can effectively uncover negligent medical practices.
In addition, your attorney must be able to contact and prepare professional medical witnesses who can testify as to the proper or negligent behavior of medical personnel. The testimony of these witnesses is crucial for successful litigation.
At the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover, we offer skilled legal counsel in the following types of medical malpractice cases across Bexar County and all of Texas from our San Antonio law offices:
- Birth injuries
- Surgical errors
- Cancer misdiagnosis
- Delayed cancer diagnosis
- Failure to diagnose cancer
- Diagnostic errors and malpractice
- Medication errors
- Emergency room errors
- Nursing mistakes
- Anesthesia malpractice
- OB/GYN malpractice