About Medical Malpractice Cases
Mullen & Mullen Law Firm has been fighting for the rights of North Texas medical negligence victims for 40 years. We have the knowledge, skills, experience, and financial stability to take on medical professionals and the big insurance companies they are aligned with.
All of us rely on doctors and other medical professionals to render their services in a safe and reasonable manner when we are sick or hurt. The vast majority of times the services rendered are professional and competent. Sometimes, however, the standard of care is violated and people are injured or killed in negligence cases involving doctors, hospitals, surgical facilities, nurses, nursing homes, or other healthcare facilities.
Dallas medical malpractice claims are often challenging due to changes in Texas law specifically designed to cut back on these types of cases.
It is imperative that you contact an experienced Dallas personal injury attorney as soon as you suspect medical negligence has occurred.
Many times medical malpractice happens in one of the following situations:
- A doctor offers an incorrect diagnosis
- A doctor fails to diagnose something they should have
- An error is committed during a surgical proceeding
- Wrong medication is prescribed or handed out
- Medication is prescribed without regards to possible side-effects or without considering other prescription drugs a person is currently taking
- Services are provided to the wrong patient
- Procedure is not followed correctly or proper procedures were not in place
- Baby was delivered incorrectly
- Patients suffered abuse or neglect
- Patients were not properly monitored or supervised
The above list is not exhaustive. Any treatment below the minimum standard of care could be the basis for a Texas medical malpractice case. If you were harmed, or a loved one was killed, due to possible medical negligence, please call (214) 747-5240 to speak with our Dallas medical malpractice attorneys as soon as possible for a free consultation.
Our lawyers handle Texas medical malpractice claims on a contingency fee basis. You only pay us if we obtain a financial settlement for you or a loved one.
The Ultimate Guide to Filing a Texas Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical negligence is one of the most difficult types of malpractice cases to prove.
According to a Forbes post, medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., but only 15% of all personal injury suits filed are based on medical negligence. Plus, 80% end up in the client not getting any financial compensation at all. You must have a very strong trail of evidence to prove medical negligence actually happened.
What do you have to show to win a Dallas medical malpractice Claim?
To prove medical negligence actually happens, you have to show your treating professional deviated from the “standard of care” which is what a reasonably prudent medical professional would or would not have done under the same circumstances.
Here are the additional basic requirements you must show to win your medical malpractice case:
- A Doctor-Patient Relationship Existed: You have to show you hired the doctor and that he/she agreed to be hired. For example, if you have a consulting doctor who doesn’t treat you directly, you may not be able to sue them for medical negligence.
- Your Doctor Acted with Negligence: We talked about this above. In addition to taking action that a reasonable doctor would take under the same circumstances, you should also know you’re not entitled to get the best care possible. Your doctor’s care simply must be “reasonably skillful and careful.” If your doctor doesn’t act in that way, then you may have a good medical negligence case.
- The Doctor’s Negligence Must Cause Your Injury: If you’re already sick or physically injured and you get treatment, did your current ailments cause further problems, or did your doctor’s actions cause them? If you’re seriously sick with cancer, it could be hard to show your doctor’s negligence caused additional problems. Usually, this means getting a medical expert to testify it’s “more likely than not” your doctor’s negligence caused your injury.
- Your Injury Led to Specific Damages: Even if your doctor took negligent action, you can’t suit him if his actions didn’t cause any harm. If you experience additional physical pain, mental anguish, medical bills, and lose your ability to work, you may have a provable medical negligence claim.
What is the Statute of Limitations in a Dallas medical malpractice case?
In Texas, you have 2 years from the date of injury (or death in the case of a wrongful death claim) to file. If you wait longer than 2 years, you can never file a lawsuit for that particular injury again. Most injury lawyers offer free consultations for medical malpractice cases. If you believe you were the victim of medical negligence, get in touch with a qualified attorney today at (214) 747-5240.
How much can you win in a Texas Medical Malpractice Claim?
Depending on the type of medical negligence damages, you have certain limits you can recover in Texas cases.
With Texas medical malpractice cases, what’s one of the first things that goes through practically everyone’s mind? Big dollar value payouts to victims and their survivors. However, these settlements are not as common as they seem. That’s because they’re sensational stories, the kind people pay attention to in the media. So they get reported the most and appear to be typical. The truth? I’m not sure anyone knows exactly if those situations are really out of control.
However, legislators in Texas believed unfairly large settlements to medical malpractice victims inflated physician insurance premiums too much. So in 2003, and in the years since, they passed tort reform in Texas that caps the amount of damages you can get.
Here’s how it works right now:
- “Non-Economic” Damages are Limited: “Non-economic” damages refer to damages you can recover that are not financially related. Think pain and suffering here. For example, you experience blindness, loss of your limbs, or disfigurement as a result of medical malpractice. This could also be emotional distress or loss of enjoyment of life. Those are “non-economic” damages.
You can recover $250,000 from each doctor, healthcare provider, or hospital, and a maximum of $500,000 total. And, these amounts are not adjusted for inflation. So even though the cost of living rises, and money loses its purchasing power over time, you can’t recover funds to make up for that difference (many personal injury laws let you do this. Check out wrongful death next).
If this sounds unfair to you, it is a highly controversial law. So you wouldn’t be the only one disagreeing with it.
- Wrongful Death and Survival Claims Have Caps Too: In Texas, each claimant can recover $500,000 for a successful wrongful death or survival case. But in this case, that amount adjusts over time for inflation.
That $500,000 amount was set in 1977. Today, because of inflation, you can recover approximately $1.8 million for a wrongful death or survival action. If you don’t understand inflation, just know that $500,000 in 1977 buys about the same amount of goods and services as $1.8 million did in 2015.
- And Finally, Punitive Damages Have Limits: If a doctor is particularly outrageous or malicious in their actions, punitive damages can get assessed simply to punish them. The idea is to deter them from acting that way again in the future.
In Texas, the cap for punitive damages is $200,000. Or, you can also recover twice the amount of economic AND non-economic damages, up to a limit of $750,000. You can recover whichever of the two amounts is greater.
- But, Economic Damages are Not Limited: “Economic damages” refer to your cost of past, present, and future medical care, reimbursement of lost income, compensation for lost earning capacity, and any other financial loss directly attributable to the medical professional’s negligence.
Those types of damages are not capped in Texas. You can recover them for the rest of your life, if your injuries affect you that long.
Do you have a Dallas medical malpractice case?
They’re tough to prove. But if any of these happened to you, you likely have a viable case.
Time for a little honest, straight talk here (Bet you wish you got more of that with lawyers, don’t you?). Texas medical malpractice claims are super-tough to prove. Many personal injury lawyers make you answer a barrage of questions to see if they have a good chance of winning your case.
They do that for a couple of reasons:
- The law makes it purposefully difficult to prove medical malpractice to reduce frivolous lawsuits and insurance costs for medical professionals
- It takes a lot more money out of lawyers’ pockets to hire expert witnesses to prove your case, so there’s more risk on their part
While we have a great legal system here in the US, it’s not perfect. So it’s best to know that reality up front.
What types of Dallas medical malpractice cases have a high chance of winning compensation?
- Negligent Prenatal Care: Both the child and mother can experience harm if doctors are negligent in this way. And most often, doctors fail to identify a mother’s medical condition, birth defects present in the baby, failing to identify an ectopic pregnancy (one where the baby develops outside the Fallopian tube), and failing to diagnose a disease that the baby could catch.
- Negligence During Childbirth: Usually, the news isn’t good when birth injuries happen. They dramatically affect a child’s life for years, and sometimes their entire lifetime. These birth defects can also cause serious harm to the mother too. Doctors often cause medical errors by failing to anticipate birth complications, failing to respond to signs of fetal distress, failing to order a cesarean section, or incompetent use of a forceps. Sometimes they even cause cerebral palsy.
- Medication Errors: Doctors make more than 1.5 million medication errors that harm Americans each year. Medication errors usually happen when the incorrect dosage is given. The nurse may give the patient the wrong amount. The doctor could simply write the wrong dosage. Or the equipment that provides the medication malfunctions.
- Misdiagnosis: As of 2015, this may be the leading cause of medical malpractice. Infections, tumors, heart attacks, blood clots in your lungs, and heart disease are the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions. Unfortunately, these conditions are complex and don’t have consistent, straightforward symptoms in every person. So errors are often made.
- Surgical Errors: Here, we’re not talking about amputating the wrong body part (most of the time). Those stories make the headlines, but that’s because they’re sensational. They rarely happen (although they do in some cases). But they definitely qualify as medical malpractice. More commonly, a surgeon damages a nerve, fails to control bleeding, or leaves some sort of medical product in the patient.
If you’re considering filing a Texas medical malpractice claim, contact our lawyers to discuss your potential case now at (214) 747-5240. We have offices in Dallas, Plano, Frisco, and Fort Worth, and offer a reduced 29% contingency fee for cases that settle without the filing of a lawsuit.
Can you sue a Dallas doctor for misdiagnosis?
To prove you were misdiagnosed and to be able to claim financial damages under medical malpractice, you have to show:
- You had a relationship with the doctor you’re suing (Sometimes many doctors are involved and you have to make sure you have the right one.)
- The doctor acted negligently and not in a reasonably skillful or competent manner
- Your doctor’s negligence caused your injury
In the overwhelming majority of cases, it’s the second and third points that get the most debate.
Some Examples to Clear This Issue Up
At a practical level, you must show one of these two things happened in the case of misdiagnosis:
- Your doctor did not include the correct diagnosis, while a reasonably skilled and competent doctor would have
- Your doctor made the correct diagnosis, but didn’t do the appropriate testing or refer you to specialists to confirm the diagnosis
So let’s look at your scenario, misdiagnosing a fever as cancer. In reality, there’s likely not going to be any way a doctor could successfully defend your case. If they act in a reasonably skillful and competent manner, doing appropriate testing, there’s no way they would misdiagnose your fever as cancer.
In that case, you’d likely win your claim.
But now, let’s add a twist to the story: you eventually realize you’ve contracted MRSA from your visit to the doctor (Sorry, it’s just not your week this week.) You eventually die.
Can you sue the doctor? You can’t sue them for a misdiagnosis because the misdiagnosis has to cause your injury. However, your loved one may be able to sue the hospital or doctor’s office for MRSA and your wrongful death. They may be able to sue the doctor for negligence too, if it was their actions that caused you to get MRSA and die.
Medical Malpractice Cases are the Hardest to Prove
Legislators have made medical malpractice difficult to prove to discourage frivolous lawsuits and the inflation of liability insurance costs (and those costs get passed on to you and other patients too). So winning a claim requires a strong case supported by expensive expert testimony.
We’re not saying don’t try to win your case. But it’s important to know the realities before you get involved in the situation. Contact our Dallas medical malpractice attorneys for a free case evaluation.
Why Do So Many Americans Die from Medical Malpractice?
It’s tough to sort out what’s really going on with any wide-scale problem like medical malpractice. In reality, there’s a number of possible reasons.
One theory, presented by the New York Times, is that having too much treatment actually causes more medical errors. For example, they note that since 1996, the number of MRIs ordered has increased by 4 times, while the percentage of doctor visits leading to the prescription of at least 5 drugs has tripled.
Some of these are necessary. But many are not. One survey they cited had orthopedic surgeons saying 24% of the tests they ordered were not medically necessary. They did these tests to protect themselves from lawsuits.
Another cause is the inequality of care you can get at different hospitals. For example, an article at MedicalNewsToday.com says if patients treated in the bottom 10th percentile of hospitals from 2000 – 2002 instead got treatment at the best hospitals, about 4,000 lives would have been saved.
In addition, Life Extension Magazine proposes at least some of these preventable deaths are due to the fact that medical systems don’t consider these factors when analyzing human health:
- Stress and its negative effects
- Not enough exercise
- Excessive caloric intake
- Highly processed foods grown in chemically damaged soil
- Exposure to thousands of different environmental toxins
Get a free consultation today with Mullen & Mullen to find out if you have a legitimate case and how much you might recover.
Learn how our lawyers can help! Contact us in Dallas, Plano, Frisco, or Fort Worth now, to discuss the facts of your potential medical malpractice claim.
Call (214) 747-5240 now or use the contact form or chat feature on this page.
There is never a fee for our legal services unless we obtain a recovery for you.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years (since 1983). Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.