Medical malpractice settlements are claims obtainable by plaintiffs due to the medical negligence or breach of duty of professional healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, dentists, technicians, hospital workers, etc. Some damages sustainable from medical malpractice include trauma, disfigurement, loss of earnings, etc. A victim of medical malpractice may file a lawsuit against a healthcare professional if the treatment obtained is below the standard requirement. In the United States, medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death across the country, with over 250,000 deaths annually.
Most times, a medical malpractice settlement may be decided out of court or at trial, depending on the negotiation between the plaintiff and defendant. Typically, the defendant’s insurance company may reach out to the victim to settle out of court. However, a plaintiff must first file a formal complaint against the defendant in court in Texas. According to the National Library of Medicine, medical malpractice cases are mostly under state authority and not the federal government.
There are several medical malpractice cases that can get a settlement as long as the plaintiff can prove the existence of medical negligence or malpractice. In addition, for a medical malpractice lawsuit to hold, the following elements must be true:
Some of the most common medical malpractice cases a plaintiff can get settlements for include:
Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis: In most cases, victims can sue medical professionals for wrong diagnoses or prolonged processes that lead to medical malpractice damages.
Failure to treat: A plaintiff may seek medical malpractice settlements if a healthcare professional’s medical negligence leads to further harm. In most cases, this includes not taking the necessary steps or diagnosis to treat the plaintiff’s condition.
Medication error: A patient may obtain a settlement for a medication error in a medical malpractice lawsuit if they suffered harm or loss due to a preventable error. Often, a medication error occurs due to the wrong dispensation of medications.
Injury during treatment: Medical malpractice cases involving injuries caused to the plaintiff during treatment may be legal grounds for the Plaintiff to institute a claim for compensation, depending on the facts of the case. For instance, an injury sustained during a surgical procedure.
The average payout for a medical negligence case in Texas is $199,000. Although, the value of medical malpractice claims is often dependent on the severity of the medical injuries sustained due to the medical practitioner’s errors. In addition, victims of medical malpractice may seek help from a malpractice lawyer to evaluate the value of their case. An experienced medical malpractice attorney in Texas can assess the economic and non-economic damages to determine the case’s worth. However, in Texas, the value cap for non-economic damages is $250,000, as established in Section 74.301 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
The settlement amount obtainable from a medical malpractice case depends on the various injuries or damages sustained by a victim. Due to the uniqueness of each malpractice claim, a plaintiff can get the following types of compensation, economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages:
Economic Damages: Economic damages are financial damages that a victim suffered or may suffer due to the malpractice case. Economic damages are also known as special damages. Examples of compensation a plaintiff can seek under economic damages include loss of income, loss of earning capacity, and cost of medical bills. For instance, the loss of income and earning capacity put into consideration the amount a victim lost due to the incident and the future amount they may lose.
Non-economic Damages: Non-economic damages are damages that do not have a direct impact on the victim's finance. Another name for non-economic damages is general damages. In most cases, non-economic damages are difficult to calculate because they deal with pain and suffering, decrease in the quality of life, permanent disfigurement, etc.
Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are the kind of damages that serve as punishments to a defendant, depending on their level of negligence. However, the court determines whether or not to award punitive damage.
Interested persons who wish to negotiate a medical malpractice settlement must notify the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company that they are filing a claim. Often than not, plaintiffs prefer to engage expert medical malpractice attorneys to oversee their medical malpractice cases. Negotiations for a settlement will only begin once the plaintiff files a formal complaint in court. In most cases, medical professionals may reject the settlement claim due to the negative effect of having a medical malpractice case. For instance, a medical malpractice case may affect a doctor’s medical license. Once the case is filed in court, both parties may decide to go to trial or engage in negotiations outside of court.
Once an agreement is reached, either by negotiation or jury verdict, both parties involved must decide on the best way to collect the settlement. Structured payments and Lump sum payments are the two common settlement options.
No, medical malpractice settlements are not taxable in Texas. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers medical malpractice as a personal injury. Therefore, the settlement receivable from this type of personal injury is classified into “personal physical injuries” and “physical sickness.” Plaintiffs who receive compensation for economic and non-economic damages will not be taxed.
However, plaintiffs who claim a deduction for medical expenses due to the malpractice case will be taxed. In addition, punitive damages are subject to taxes.
In Texas, the average settlement for medical malpractice lawsuits is $199,000. Nonetheless, medical malpractice victims may receive higher settlements depending on the circumstances of their case. In most cases, the severity of the injuries sustained determines the worth of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Furthermore, in Texas, there is a $250,000 cap on the amount receivable for non-economic damages.
No, the priority of any medical malpractice victim at this stage should be to heal. In addition, settlement offers from insurance companies immediately after a malpractice claim is often lesser. Therefore, a plaintiff should consider hiring an expert medical malpractice attorney to ascertain the severity of the injuries sustained and possible compensation. Plaintiffs without attorneys may receive lesser offers from insurance companies because they lack the expertise to properly assess the injury. Some of the questions medical malpractice lawyers use to assess the case include:
Aside from receiving a lesser settlement offer, a plaintiff without the guidance of an experienced personal injury lawyer may forego exercising their right to seek adequate restitution from the defendant or claim for non-immediate damages.
Most times, plaintiffs do not understand how to calculate medical malpractice settlement damages due to the complex personal injury laws and nature of the case. In addition, each medical malpractice claim is unique. Therefore, there is no one-size fit value for medical malpractice settlements. However, an expert medical malpractice lawyer in Texas can calculate the estimated value of a malpractice claim by determining the value of the economic and non-economic damages sustained.
Settlement value = Economic Damages + Non-economic Damages
The economic and non-economic damages calculations often include the past, present, and future impact of the injury on the plaintiff. Typically, economic damages include medical expenses, loss of earnings or wages, medication, rehabilitation, etc. On the other hand, non-economic damages consist of pain from actual injuries, emotional stress, permanent disability, suffering, loss of quality of life, etc.
If you or your family member is a victim of medical malpractice, it is essential to hire a medical malpractice lawyer who can offer guidance on the most effective means to a reasonable and timely settlement. A skilled and experienced malpractice attorney understands how settlement negotiations work in a Texas medical malpractice case and can fight hard to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. To find the right lawyer for your medical malpractice case, you can visit the state bar association website or the lawyer referral services of local bar associations within your area. You can also find medical malpractice lawyers by searching online for terms such as "malpractice attorneys near me" or "medical lawyers near me". The search engine usually provides results to the websites of practicing attorneys within your city. In addition, you may ask for referrals from friends, family and coworkers who have had similar malpractice experiences in the past.