Medical malpractice laws vary by state, and it is important that anyone concerned about the care they have received be diligent in exploring their legal rights. Medical malpractice laws in Texas originated in the 1970’s, and have been continuously assessed and revised to meet the needs of Texas patients. In 1977, Texas passed the Medical Liability and Insurance Improvement Act (MLIIA), which was subsequently codified in the Texas Revised Civil Statutes. The MLIIA was designed to clarify medical malpractice and insurance issues plaguing the Texas healthcare system at the time.
In the decades since the MLIIA, many other issues have arisen and caused lawmakers to pause and question whether the terms of the MLIIA should be revised. In 2003, Texas lawmakers were determined to do just that. The MLIIA was revised and re-codified under the Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Summary of Medical Malpractice Laws in Texas
A brief summary of the most important tenants of Texas medical malpractice laws includes:
- Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two (2) years from the date of the injury. The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two (2) years from the date of death. Note, however, that there may be some exceptions. For instance, for facilities that fall under the Texas Tort Claims Act, the statute of limitations may be one (1) year from the date of incident/injury.
- Experts: Texas law requires that plaintiffs in a medical malpractice claim must submit documentation to the court and applicable parties known as an expert report. The expert report must include information and the curriculum vitae of any experts being utilized in the case. Texas law also has specific guidelines for choosing expert witnesses, including their current medical standing, qualifications, and knowledge of similar cases.
- Damage Caps: Texas law places caps (limits) on damages plaintiffs can seek in a medical malpractice claim. Current law places a damage cap for noneconomic damages at $250,000 per defendant named in the suit; however, some facilities may have additional limitations placed on them limiting the damage cap to $100,000 for noneconomic damages. The amount that a plaintiff may recover will vary from case to case.
- Arbitration: Texas law currently does not require arbitration for medical malpractice claims, however, some counties have chosen to adopt alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. Texas law also has specific guidelines regarding a healthcare provider’s ability to request or require a patient to enter an arbitration agreement.
- Liability: One of the most important elements of Texas medical malpractice laws is liability. Texas law specifically addressed instances in which an individual may be considered “jointly liable”, as well as vicarious liability, such as a hospital being liable for the actions of an employee.
Find out More about Medical Malpractice Laws in Texas and Your Case
Medical malpractice laws in Texas are designed to be fair to healthcare providers while simultaneously protecting the rights of patients. Unfortunately, this is a complex area of the law. Texas law does not specifically address a timeline for medical malpractice claims beyond the statute of limitations, however, most legal resources advise patients to understand the complex nature of medical malpractice cases, and the fact that they can take months or even years to resolve.
To find out more about your case and applicable state laws, contact a medical malpractice attorney who is well versed in Texas laws and the process of litigating complex cases. At Brown Wharton & Brothers, we know how confusing and devastating medical malpractice can be, and we are dedicated to protecting your rights and pursuing the justice you deserve.