“Everybody makes mistakes”. We all know this old saying, and in general, we’re ready to accept the occasional mishap or mistake. But when your doctor makes a mistake and you end up injured or permanently damaged, you have every right to be less than forgiving. In fact, you’ll be looking for legal redress. What should you do?
What Medical Malpractice Cases Fit the Bill? Is it Your Doctor’s Fault?
Obviously, each case has to be evaluated on its merits. Two major aspects that have to be taken into account and proven are Negligence and Causality. If either of these is absent or cannot be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, you will not win a malpractice suit.
To clarify, you have to prove that the doctor’s mistake occurred due to negligence – something that a reasonable medical professional would not have done or failed to do.
For example, if a doctor prescribes medication without first asking you about allergies, and you have a severe adverse reaction, this could be a case of negligence. But if you failed to mention one of your allergies when asked, or the doctor could have had no way of knowing that you could be allergic to the medicine prescribed, there was no negligence, and you would be unable to sue for malpractice.
The next thing you have to prove is causality. Did the doctor’s action specifically cause the damage or injury you experienced?
Let’s suppose that the doctor prescribed a medication that was wrong for you and you had an adverse reaction. But you were also prone to strokes, and you had a stroke. Unless the medication is known to increase the risk of strokes, the medication did not cause your condition, so while the doctor was negligent, he or she did not cause your predicament through that negligence.
How To Make a Medical Malpractice Complaint
Your very first step will be to get a new doctor who can assess the extent of your problem and take the necessary steps to alleviate your suffering. Ensure that he or she has a full understanding of your medical background and access to your medical records.
Talk to your new doctor about what happened to you, and get their professional opinion, not only on your current condition but also on the elements of negligence and causality described above. This will give you a better idea of whether your previous doctor really is at fault, and whether his or her actions are to blame for your current predicament.
Based on these findings, you should now file a report with the Texas Medical Board. Lodging your complaint doesn’t mean that you will receive any compensation, but it is a necessary step if you want to make sure that your doctor is investigated for his or her actions. As a result of any disciplinary action that follows on the investigation, the doctor may be suspended from practice, thereby protecting other people from malpractice.
If you’d like others to know about your problem with your previous doctor, you can also post a review on RateMDs. This won’t result in any official action against the doctor, but it will help other members of the public to be aware of your experience and take it into account when choosing a physician.
Should You File a Malpractice Suit?
If you feel that your doctor’s negligence and the damage that has been caused as a direct result of this amounts to negligent behavior, you should consider initiating a lawsuit. Provided that you are confident that you can prove negligence and causality, you will be faced by two possible outcomes:
The damages your doctor pays may be small
Sometimes, even permanent damage doesn’t have major financial implications for you. Some malpractice verdicts result in the payment of damages amounting to $250,000 or even less. Although this might sound like a lot of money, you have to remember that your costs will also be high. You will have to call on legal and medical experts, and at the end of the day, you might not gain a significant amount.
Also, note that in Texas your non-economic damages are usually capped at $250,000 per individual health care provider and $500,000 per hospital. If the hospital is a county hospital you may be capped at $100,000. The caps don’t necessarily apply to Wrongful Death actions.
Discuss your situation with your attorney in order to determine what your chances of a successful malpractice suit are, and make your decision accordingly.
What Kind of Compensation Could You Qualify For?
If you qualify for compensation in the form of damages paid, you will most likely receive ‘Compensatory Damages’. These are based on your financial losses as a result of the malpractice including medical bills for extra treatment and earnings lost during your recovery period. Non-economic damages are intended as compensation for psychological, physical harm and distress.
Courts are less likely to award Punitive Damages – a form of ‘punishment’. These are occasionally awarded when the doctor appears to have acted in a willful way. A clear example would be if a doctor showed up to perform surgery and was intoxicated and knew that they were intoxicated yet decided to perform the surgery anyway.
Seeking Legal Help
Medical malpractice suits are complex, and you will need the help of a specialized personal injury attorney. If you have reason to believe that you have been a victim of malpractice, and would like to investigate the possibility of bringing your ex-doctor to justice, get in touch with Herrman & Herrman’s experienced personal injury attorneys to discuss your case. We have brought unprofessional medical personnel to account for their carelessness in surgery, prescription of medication, incorrect or failed diagnosis, birth injuries and more.