What Is Medical Malpractice?Medical malpractice is the act or omission of a healthcare provider who fails to provide proper care to their patient. Basically, if a healthcare professional in a hospital, nursing home, physician's office, surgical center, or other healthcare facility, or a healthcare facility itself, fails to provide the proper care due to their patient, they have committed malpractice. There is a specific standard for medical malpractice cases. A patient does not necessarily have a claim simply because they had a bad outcome after receiving medical care. In addition, a San Antonio medical malpractice victim must establish, with solid evidence, specific criteria, including:
- The medical provider owed you a duty of care. When it comes to medical professionals, this is fairly easy to prove in most cases. Any medical professional from whom you seek medical services owes you a duty of care to avoid causing you further harm.
- The medical provider breached their duty of care. Whether they failed to provide you with proper care or actually harmed you through their actions, you must prove the medical provider negligent—that they failed to meet the standard of care you had a right to expect.
- The breach harmed you. Even if a medical provider breached their duty of care, you cannot recover compensation unless you establish a connection between the breach and your injury. You also must prove that you have been injured and suffered severe consequences to your mental and physical health because of what happened.
- The injuries you suffered caused the expenses and impacts for which you demand compensation. For any damages you claim, you must prove the medical malpractice was the direct cause.
Damages In San Antonio Medical Malpractice ClaimsIf you can establish the above elements, you can collect damages in a San Antonio medical malpractice claim. Damages you may collect in a San Antonio medical malpractice claim include both economic and non-economic losses, such as:
- Medical expenses, both existing and anticipated
- Compensation for medical equipment you need as a result of your medical malpractice injury, like a wheelchair
- Lost wages, including lost earning capacity, if your injury renders you unable to work in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma and distress
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
What Forms of Protection Do Medical Professionals Have In Place To Prevent Lawsuits?The San Antonio medical professionals and their insurers may vigorously fight your claim. Suing a San Antonio medical professional is difficult. However, hiring an experienced San Antonio medical malpractice attorney who understands the law makes it much more feasible. All medical professionals are required to do their best to protect their patients' health. Medical professionals take the Hippocratic Oath, an early Greek credo stating, “do no harm.” If a medical professional does harm because they are negligent in any way, they can be held liable for the resulting damages. But they can protect themselves against claims.
Informed ConsentOne of the most important forms of protection medical professionals have is informed consent. All medical professionals must obtain consent from their patients (or their patients' legal representatives) before administering treatment (except in emergencies). If they properly warn patients of the dangers of procedures and get them to sign a consent form, this can protect them from a malpractice claim, even after an adverse outcome for the patient. However, consent is not protection against everything. If a doctor acts negligently in the course of their duties, they can still be held accountable. No patient gives a doctor consent to act negligently or do their work poorly. In addition, if your doctor does not obtain informed consent from you, they can and should be held responsible for their failure to obtain consent and for the damages that resulted from their negligent medical treatment.
Medical Malpractice InsuranceMedical professionals and facilities have medical malpractice insurance to cover medical malpractice claims. This insurance helps pay for the expenses that result from a medical malpractice case. You need to know how much coverage a specific doctor or facility has to cover medical malpractice claims. This might limit the amount you stand to recover in a settlement. Insurance companies and their lawyers do all they can to keep a medical malpractice case from going to court and being tried before a judge or jury. By settling, they not only avoid the additional expenses of litigation, but they can also manage their risk and potentially pay out much less than a court might order them to pay if they went to trial.
Alternative Dispute ResolutionAlternative dispute resolution, like arbitration, is another way to manage risk. Unlike some other businesses, medical professionals can't require an arbitration agreement from patients. They can request arbitration but must suggest that patients speak to an attorney first. This protects patients and makes it easier for them to bring a lawsuit against medical professionals and/or facilities.
How Do You Prove a San Antonio Medical Malpractice Claim?Proving any medical malpractice claim is challenging. Per Texas law, San Antonio medical malpractice claimants must bring expert testimony to prove their claim. This expert evidence includes medical professionals who can examine the claimant's injuries and the defendant medical professional's actions to determine whether or not there is a causal chain between negligent acts of the medical professional and the injuries for which the claimant is seeking compensation. Finding a medical expert witness can be challenging. The expert must be:
- A practicing physician;
- Knowledgeable about standards of care in the medical field to which they are testifying; and
- Qualified by certifications or other substantial evidence.
- Medical bills
- Proof of lost income and/or lost employment
- Documentation of personal losses such as lost relationships or lost life enjoyment
How Can a Lawyer Bring a San Antonio Medical Malpractice Claim for Me?First, you must make sure that you bring the claim against the medical professional within two years. Failing to file timely may destroy your chances of recovering any compensation. The steps to bring a San Antonio medical malpractice claim generally include:
- Contact and meet with an attorney. A medical malpractice attorney will give you a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and determine whether they can represent you. At the consultation, you go over the case in detail. If you and the attorney both feel that they are right to take on your case, you will enter into a retainer agreement to take them on as your legal representative
- Give Notice. Your attorney will give notice to each defendant in your claim. They will have to send an authorized form to release your medical records along with the notice. This will authorize medical professionals to release your records to your attorneys within 45 days so you can start the proceedings.
- Receive an answer. Within 60 days, the defendants will have to answer your claim, either with a denial or a settlement offer.
- Find expert testimony. Within 120 days after receiving an answer, you and your attorney will have to obtain a written testimony from a medical expert detailing how your injury happened and how the medical provider can be held responsible.
- Engage in Discovery. To demand evidence the medical provider possesses, you need to engage in discovery, which involves requesting evidence and posing interrogatories (written answers to attorney questions from involved parties and witnesses). The parties gather as much evidence as they can to support their cases.
- Negotiate. Attorneys will likely attempt to negotiate a favorable settlement after each side has gathered evidence.
- Go to court. If the case cannot settle through negotiations, it may go to court for a judge or jury to decide.
Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in San AntonioThere is a lot involved in the process of bringing a San Antonio medical malpractice case. They are long and challenging cases, even for attorneys who have been working on them for years. You must seek professional legal guidance before pursuing your medical malpractice claim to ensure you follow all the laws set forth. Medical malpractice lawyers have the experience most laypeople lack in pursuing successful claims against medical professionals. When you come up against the challenges of finding medical experts, gathering evidence, and going through all the other technical aspects of bringing a San Antonio medical malpractice claim, you want an experienced legal professional at your side to make the process more efficient and give yourself the best chance to recover the compensation you need. Medical malpractice lawyers also work on a contingency basis, which means they will not make you pay legal fees unless they obtain a favorable outcome in your case. They will instead take a percentage of your settlement or court award of damages as payment. If you or your loved ones suffered from medical malpractice, do not hesitate to seek help from an experienced San Antonio medical malpractice lawyer.