Dallas Medical Malpractice Lawyer
We trust doctors to diagnose and treat us because we know they have undergone years of special training. Unfortunately, many doctors still lack the skill and experience necessary to properly diagnose an illness or safely perform a medical procedure despite this training. When a doctor, nurse, surgeon, anesthesiologist, or other healthcare professional makes a mistake, the patient can be seriously injured, suffer from an undiagnosed terminal illness, or even succumb to wrongful death. In fact, hospital errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Suppose you or one of your family members was injured or became ill due to medical negligence at a clinic or hospital in Dallas. In that case, you are urged to contact our Dallas medical malpractice attorneys from The Queenan Law Firm, P.C., for a free and confidential consultation. If your physician acted with negligence, and you were harmed as a result, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses and other losses. To discuss your medical malpractice claim in a free and private legal consultation with a Dallas medical malpractice attorney, call our law offices as soon as possible at (817) 476-1797.
Leading Causes of Medical Malpractice in Dallas, TX
Nobody goes to the doctor to get or feel worse. However, this is precisely what many unsuspecting patients go through every year in Dallas, TX, and the U.S. Unfortunately, every year, thousands of patients are injured, develop a medical condition, or die due to medical errors. You may believe medical professionals will always do their best to protect your health and well-being, but this is not necessarily the case.
Medical negligence occurs when a healthcare professional, doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider causes harm to a patient through negligent acts or omissions. Medical malpractice or negligence is a general term that refers to a range of different situations involving medical errors. Some of the most common causes of medical malpractice in Dallas include anesthesia errors, surgical errors, and misdiagnosis, among others.
If your treating physician’s negligent acts or omissions caused you or a loved one harm, you may have the grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Our Dallas, TX medical malpractice attorneys can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Against Your Doctor in Dallas
Unfortunately, even talented doctors are sometimes unsuccessful in their efforts. However, a doctor’s failure to successfully treat a patient does not necessarily give rise to a cause of action. If a doctor performs all actions in an appropriate, timely, and competent fashion, they have not committed malpractice, even if the patient has a poor outcome. Malpractice occurs when a doctor acts with negligence or carelessness, leading to a serious mistake or problem that would have been avoided by a different physician under the same circumstances.
If you suffered injuries due to medical errors, you can file a personal injury claim. With your Dallas, TX medical malpractice attorney’s assistance, you can fight to get compensation from the liable parties to cover your losses. However, before the court grant you “damages” or compensation, you need to be able to show the defendant’s negligence. In short, you have the burden of showing your doctor’s negligence. Typically, you can achieve this by providing evidence of four main elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Duty of Care
A Dallas doctor’s duty of care to their patient stems from the doctor-patient relationship. To establish a doctor-patient relationship, you must provide evidence showing you agreed to be treated by the defendant and actually underwent care that that physician participated in. Similar relationships exist with physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other medical professionals. Often, having asked the defendant a medical question or simply calling them for an opinion is not necessarily enough to show this relationship.
One of the most efficient and best ways to show the existence of a doctor-patient relationship is providing a copy of your medical records. Showing the existence of this relationship is essential to start your medical malpractice claim because having this relationship establishes that your doctor owed you a duty of care.
Once you establish a doctor-patient relationship, you can argue what the legal duty of care was. You should be able to provide evidence showing your treating physician owed you a legal duty to provide you with professional, dedicated, skilled medical services. Part of their legal duty also includes providing you with sufficient warnings, advice, and supervision.
In general, the duty they owe you is called the “standard of care.” The standard of care can be defined as the level of care that a reasonable, prudent, competent physician with similar training and knowledge would have provided under the same circumstances.
Breach of Duty
All medical professionals are held to follow the standard of care that is appropriate to the circumstances, and they must make sure that they follow common professional practices within the medical community. A breach of duty happens when a doctor or other medical professional deviates from their standard of care.
Often, a breach of duty can include something like failing to run a test that other doctors would have agreed is necessary or failing to recognize a somewhat obvious symptom. In many cases, care that falls below the standard of care is not obvious to the patient, and you might need a second opinion and a consultation with a medical malpractice attorney to show you why the care can be considered negligent or how it fell below the expected standard of care.
Causation is the third element in your medical malpractice claim. Typically, you must demonstrate that your doctor’s breach of duty led to your injuries and losses. Showing causation is often the most challenging element to prove. This is especially true in medical malpractice cases, where your circumstances may be riddled with many different elements.
Generally, the easiest, most efficient way to show causation in your medical malpractice claim is to utilize a “but for” analysis. In short, during causation, you should ask yourself, would I have suffered any injuries “but for” the negligent actions – or omissions – of my treating physician? If your answer to this question is yes, you have a good chance to show a direct link between your doctor’s actions or omissions and your injuries.
When proving damages to the court, it is essential to provide evidence showing the doctor’s negligence led to some form of loss. You can typically show damages by providing evidence that you faced significant medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
This evidence often comes in the form of medical bills, pay stubs, financial records, and other documentary evidence. For the less tangible damages, like the pain and suffering that you experienced, your testimony can help prove the damages to the jury.
If you lost a loved one to medical malpractice, you can also claim damages for their loss. These damages often include the cost of funeral and burial expenses, end-of-life pain and suffering, and other damages that your family now faces, such as lost wages and inheritances.
Proving the existence of all of these elements is essential. It is always in your best interest to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Compensation in a Medical Malpractice Claim in Dallas, TX
As an injured victim in a medical malpractice claim, you may want to pursue compensation from those who caused you harm. Fortunately, you can achieve this by filing your medical malpractice claim. Generally, there are two main types of awards the court may grant in medical malpractice lawsuits: economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages – as the name suggests – are compensation aimed at covering economic or monetary losses. Common examples of economic damages include present and future lost wages, medical expenses, and other losses stemming from the medical malpractice you suffered.
Noneconomic damages – unlike economic damages – are aimed at compensating a medical malpractice victim for the things that no one else can see or feel: your physical pain and your mental suffering. While pain and suffering are the two most common examples of noneconomic damages, you can also claim damages for things like lost enjoyment in life or in certain activities you can no longer perform because of your injuries.
Courts may also grant an additional form of compensation to punish a seriously negligent doctor or hospital. If the defendant’s actions in a medical malpractice claim were found to be egregious or they were part of a pattern of serious negligence or mistakes, the court may grant punitive damages. This type of compensation serves the double purpose of increasing your award and deterring this doctor and others from engaging in similar acts in the future.
It is essential to understand there may be limits to the amount of compensation you can get in your medical malpractice lawsuit. Thus, it is critical to hire an experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable Dallas, TX medical malpractice attorney who can help you maximize your potential compensation.
The Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases in Dallas
It is critical to understand all plaintiffs in a Dallas medical practice claim – or any other civil claim – have a limited time to make their filing with the court. This is known as the statute of limitations. Under state law, you only have two years from the date of your injury to file your claim.
In some cases, you may not be able to determine exactly when your injury took place. If you were undergoing a course of treatment that took weeks, months, or years, it might be difficult to pinpoint exactly when each mistake was made to start tracking the statute of limitations. In Texas, the statute of limitations can start running from the date that the course of treatment ended.
If your child was the victim of medical malpractice when they were under 12 years old, they have until their 14th birthday for you to file a case on their behalf. That can often give you years to see how malpractice affected a small child, and it gives the child time to be able to understand and explain the injury to others.
If the law allows you to extend the deadline for any reason, you must still file the case within 10 years of the injury under the “statute of repose.” Even if some deadlines can be extended, the Texas legislature has determined that cases older than 10 years old are simply too old to file.
It is always in your best interest to consult with an experienced Dallas medical malpractice attorney who can help you determine the best course of action.
Hiring Expert Witnesses for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Dallas, TX
To get your case filed under state law, you will need to have a medical expert review your Dallas medical malpractice claim. Additionally, you will need to have a medical expert testify in your case as an expert in order to prove your claim for nearly every kind of medical malpractice case.
The experts used in your case will be able to testify as to what the standard of care is. To make sure they can do this, your Dallas medical malpractice lawyer will want to select medical experts that have similar qualifications to the doctor that treated you, and who perform similar types of procedures. Since these doctors are experienced in doing what your doctor failed to do, they are reliable authorities to point out what your doctor did wrong.
The defendant will also have a medical expert in their case. Usually, this doctor or other professional will try to counteract your expert’s claim by saying that the injuries or negative outcomes you faced were within the normal complications you can face for the procedures you underwent. If the jury believes this expert, then that would mean you can’t prove your doctor’s breach of duty, and you would lose your case.
Many medical malpractice cases in Dallas are decided by this “battle of the experts,” so it is important for your lawyer to choose reputable, respected expert witnesses.
You will also need an expert witness to review your case before you can even file it. Texas law requires medical malpractice claims to be filed with an “affidavit of merit” – sometimes called a “certificate of merit” – that says the claim is legitimate. There are many “frivolous” malpractice cases filed throughout the country, so Texas law requires this additional level of certification to make sure that your claim is valid before it is even filed.
Unlike other witnesses who testify in court, an expert witness is a certified expert on a topic. This allows the jury to take the expert’s testimony as fact, which can be incredibly helpful in proving your case. Talk to your medical malpractice lawyer in Dallas about hiring an expert to testify in your Dallas malpractice case.
Evidence to Use in a Dallas Medical Malpractice Case
Most patients and victims of medical malpractice are not themselves medical experts. This makes it difficult to know if the harm you faced was the result of malpractice. Additionally, while you are unconscious during a surgical procedure, it will be impossible for you to see what was happening so that you can testify about it later. Because the patient does not usually have the evidence of what happened in their control, obtaining evidence, getting second opinions, and collecting evidence about your injuries and other damages will be an important part of your case.
Records and Documentary Evidence
Since most of the evidence in your case will be under the control of the doctor or the hospital where you were injured, the law allows you to ask the court to subpoena these records. You can also subpoena witnesses to give depositions and testify in court as to what happened. While you can already ask for copies of your medical records, the court’s tools can also help you get access to any other notes the doctor kept about the procedure, internal records where the hospital might have discussed the issues in your case, and testimony from other professionals involved in your treatment.
Your own testimony about how you felt and what you experienced will be essential in proving what happened, when it happened, and how the negligent medical care affected you. Testimony from doctors and nurses involved in your care might also reveal errors and problems along the way. However, the medical staff that treated you is likely not going to want to admit to any wrongdoing, especially if it could mean facing liability in court or losing their job or licensure.
Exams and Second Opinions
Instead, you often need another doctor to examine you and help gather evidence about the injuries and effects you faced. Evidence of excessive scarring, additional sutures, or missing internal organs and structures in your body can all help show that something went wrong, and then your new doctor and your medical experts can testify as to how that was your original doctor’s fault.
Your new doctor can also run tests, take X-Rays, and perform other studies to diagnose the injuries and complications you suffered. These also provide much-needed evidence in many cases.
Some proof of the injuries and negligence you experienced includes hard evidence that might be in your possession or under the control of the doctors and hospital who treated you. In some cases, the injuries and evidence are obvious on your body, such as in cases where the wrong limb was removed, cases where you suffer visible scarring, or cases where nerve damage causes physical changes like a bent arm or motor issues.
In cases based on surgical tools and instruments left inside the body, the physician who removes the items can save them so you can present them to the court. This can be strong physical evidence to show the jury.
If any physical evidence is stored at the hospital or in the doctor’s office where you were treated, the court can subpoena them to turn it over. If they fail to do so or they have destroyed the evidence, it could be because it would have hurt their case. Sometimes, you can get the judge to issue rulings that help you use even missing evidence in your Dallas medical malpractice case as proof of the malpractice you faced.
Should I Settle a Medical Malpractice Case in Dallas, Texas?
In many injury cases, the at-fault parties will offer a settlement. Most doctors and hospitals have medical malpractice insurance companies that represent them and pay for the damages in the case of a doctor’s negligence. These insurance companies are usually the ones who hire the lawyers and will be part of the settlement negotiations in your case, so it is important to work with your own lawyer to help you handle questions of settlement.
Medical malpractice insurance companies often seek to get claims dismissed or to settle them for a low value. In many cases, the initial offer from the insurance company is going to be too low to cover your needs. However, your attorney might be able to negotiate with the insurance companies and drive up the settlement value.
In many Dallas medical malpractice cases, the insurance company will try their hardest to stop the case before it gets to discovery – the evidence-sharing stage of a trial. Once the case gets to discovery, the doctors and hospitals could have to turn over evidence that proves their fault in your injuries, and the insurance company might have a weaker bargaining position. If this happens, the settlement negotiations might result in a fair value for your case.
If the doctor or their insurance company does offer a fair settlement, settling your claim might be the best and fastest way to get you the compensation you deserve. If they refuse to admit fault or continue to offer low settlements, our attorneys will prepare to take your case to trial.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to settle or go to trial is the client’s decision, not the lawyer’s. However, we will work with you to help you understand your choices and make an informed decision about whether to settle your medical malpractice case and what value is appropriate for your claim.
Dallas, TX Medical Malpractice Attorney Offering Free Consultations
When the person you trusted to heal you causes you harm instead, the sense of shock, loss, and betrayal is overwhelming. However, you do not have to go through this struggle alone. Our Dallas medical malpractice attorneys and Arlington, TX personal injury lawyers of The Queenan Law Firm P.C. will stand by your side to help you pursue compensation and justice for the wrongful acts that led to your illness or injury. We are not afraid to aggressively challenge powerful malpractice insurance companies and fight tirelessly to hold your doctor accountable for their careless, devastating actions. To learn more about our legal services in a free, confidential consultation, call our law offices today at (817) 476-1797.