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Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

What Happens During a Medical Malpractice Case Trial?

Both parties in a medical malpractice lawsuit will present their respective information about the incident to a judge and jury. In most cases, the defendant and plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers are responsible for presenting the case to the judge and jury. Although, both the defendant and plaintiff may take the stand. Some of the different stages in a medical malpractice case trial include:

  • Selection of the Jury
  • Opening Statement
  • Presentation of the Case (Arguments)
  • Closing Statement
  • Deliberation by the Jury
  • Judge Verdict

Selection of the Jury: At this stage of the trial, the judge or attorneys of the parties involved will oversee the jury’s selection process. The process often involves asking the jurors questions based on those set by the defendant and plaintiff’s lawyers.

Opening Statement: Typically, an opening statement is an overview of the malpractice case presented by the lawyers of both parties. For instance, the plaintiff’s malpractice attorney will present the case overview to the court and different expectations from the witnesses.

Presentation of the Case (Arguments): During the case presentation stage, an expert medical malpractice lawyer will present the plaintiff’s case, including medical expert statements and witnesses. Both parties’ attorneys will have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses presented by either party.

Closing Statement: The closing statement allows both the defendant and plaintiff’s lawyer to strengthen their arguments based on the facts and evidence provided in the case presentation stage.

Deliberation by the Jury: The Jury’s deliberation process involves fact-checking the arguments of both parties in compliance with the law. In addition, the jury may decide to ask the attorneys or judge questions to better understand the attorneys’ stand on the case. At the end of the deliberation, the jury determines the percentage of fault and damages. The damages may include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

Judge Verdict: In most medical malpractice lawsuits, the final verdict is the last stage. The judge is responsible for reading the verdict to the parties involved. Although, a party may decide to appeal the decision of a verdict in a higher court. A plaintiff can only be compensated for the damages once a final decision is made (if the defendant appeals).

What Court Handles Medical Malpractice Cases?

District Courts are responsible for medical malpractice cases in Texas. Under Texas law, medical malpractice lawsuits are classified as civil cases. In addition, the District Courts in Texas have jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. 

How is Suing a Doctor Different from Suing the Hospital?

The major difference between suing a doctor or suing the hospital is determining who is responsible for the damage. In most medical malpractice cases, doctors or healthcare providers are responsible for medical errors or medical negligence if they are independent contractors and not hospital employees. However, a plaintiff can sue a hospital if:

  • The doctor or healthcare provider is an employee
  • The doctor or healthcare provider’s incompetence is obvious to the hospital authorities

How does Medical Malpractice Case Affect Doctor’s License?

A medical malpractice case, most times, does not have a direct impact or effect on the license of a doctor or other medical professionals. Medical malpractice lawsuits are civil cases put in place to compensate victims for the damages caused due to medical negligence. As a civil case, a medical malpractice lawsuit does not serve a criminal case or professional sanction to revoke practitioners’ licenses.

Nonetheless, a doctor’s or medical professional’s license may be revoked if they are considered to be a danger to patients and the entire public. In addition, a doctor’s license may be revoked if the evidence provided by the plaintiff shows that the damages were not due to medical negligence. A medical professional whose damage to their patient was a result of an intentional act, mental illness, or chemical abuse may face some disciplinary proceedings that could result in license revocation or suspension. 

What are Some of the Defenses in a Medical Malpractice Case?

Defenses for medical malpractice cases are often complex due to the technicalities involved, such as medical technology, risk assessment, etc. For instance, medical technology may involve machines or applications used to prevent or monitor the patient’s diseases or health condition. On the other hand, risk assessment involves evaluating the chances of medical negligence happening. Therefore, interested persons must hire experienced medical malpractice attorneys. Some of the common defense strategies for medical malpractice claims include:

  • Foreseeability
  • Contributory Negligence
  • Pre-Existing Injury
  • Assumed Risk

Foreseeability: A common defense strategy deployed by malpractice attorneys is to argue that the injuries or damages sustained were not foreseeable. For instance, a person may sustain injuries due to side effects from previous medication that were not disclosed to the medical professional.

Contributory Negligence: A medical negligence lawyer must provide evidence that the patient’s negligence contributed to their injury. For instance, a medical error may occur because the patient did not adhere to medical instructions or advice. Also, it may be due to certain medical history the patient failed to disclose.

Pre-Existing Injury: In some cases, a medical malpractice injury may occur due to pre-existing conditions in the patient. Therefore, a malpractice lawyer must prove the injury results from a previous injury and not the new treatment.

Assumed Risk: Assumed risk is a defense in medical malpractice settlement cases whereby the malpractice lawyer provides evidence that the plaintiff was aware of the potential risks. Typically, it requires written consent from the patient that shows the doctor or healthcare provider informed them of the risk involved in the treatment.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Texas?

The Texas statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two years. A statute of limitation is the period for a plaintiff to file a charge against a defendant. According to section 74.251 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a health care liability claim may only commence unless the claim is filed within two years of the medical error. Minors below the age of 12 years have until their 14th birthday to file a medical malpractice claim. In addition, subsection (b) allows claimants to file a health care liability claim that is not later than ten years.

Most times, plaintiffs prefer to hire an experienced medical malpractice lawyer due to the complex personal injury laws and limitations. A medical malpractice attorney ensures necessary documents are filed and submitted to the appropriate body or office. Based on experience, a malpractice attorney can advise a plaintiff on the next course of action. It is therefore advisable to enlist the services of a medical malpractice lawyer who can help in providing adequate legal representation and obtaining the best possible outcome in a medical case trial. Interested parties can find a Texas malpractice attorney by simply searching online for terms such as "medical malpractice attorney near me" or "personal injury lawyer near me". Concerned individuals may also use the "find a lawyer" feature on the state bar association website to get the contact information of qualified malpractice attorneys in Texas. In addition, interested parties may visit the lawyer referral websites of professional bar associations within their county, or ask for referrals from family and friends.