If you lost a loved one in a hospital, you were probably told that the death was unavoidable. While some patients are lost despite competent and caring treatment, many die as a result of medical malpractice—and to the untrained eye, it can be hard to tell the difference.
Before you attempt to hold a doctor or other healthcare provider responsible for negligent medical treatment, you should know what to expect in your case. The most common legal issues surrounding a Texas medical malpractice case that results in wrongful death include:
- Statute of limitations. Survivors are under a strict time limit when it comes to filing a claim in a wrongful death case. In a health care liability claim, survivors have two years from the date of death to file a claim.
- Investigation. A survivor who suspects medical malpractice must file a health care liability form to investigate the incident within 120 days of the patient’s death. If this step is not followed, a health care provider’s case may be dismissed before the family has a chance to sue for damages.
- Survivor action. There are two possible types of claims after fatal medical malpractice: wrongful death and survivor actions. A survivor action is based on the idea that a person who has suffered an injury does not lose the right to sue just because he or she has died. A deceased patient’s family members can file a survivor claim to recover damages for any pain and suffering a patient endured after the negligence and before death.
- Percentage of liability. Under Texas law, each defendant who is found liable for causing injury or death is liable only for the percentage of damages equal to his or her measure of responsibility. However, a party who is found jointly liable (such as an insurer or hospital) may be required to contribute any funds that his or her co-defendants are unable to produce.
- Comparative negligence. As with the percentage of liability, Texas courts will also assign a percentage of negligence to each party involved in the case. A measure of negligence can be given to the doctor, the hospital, the patient, and even the patient’s family if their behavior affected the care of the patient in some way. If a claimant is found to be more than 50 percent liable for the harm done to the patient, the case will not be heard. If a claimant is less than 50 percent responsible for the injury, the amount of damages will be reduced in proportion to the percentage of negligence.
- Damages. The amount that a family can be awarded after a wrongful death varies widely, but in general will include the costs of past medical treatment and funeral costs, as well as an additional amount for the family’s pain and suffering.
We Can Tell You What to Do Next to Win Your Claim
There are many deadlines involved in filing a medical malpractice wrongful death claim, so families should seek out the advice of a trusted attorney as soon as possible to learn their options. The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP an answer all of your legal questions in your free case evaluation—and if you want us to fight for you, you will not pay us anything unless we win your case. Call us today at 800-237-3334 to learn how to get the compensation you deserve.