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How do I determine if I have a medical malpractice case?

Steve Harrelson has vast experience with medical malpractice claims in Texas.  “The first order of business,” says Harrelson, “is to conduct a thorough review of all relevant medical records by a medical professional.”

Medical malpractice cases will fill up entire cabinets (and even offices and storage buildings) with records and discovery very quickly due to the vast number of issues involved, and for that reason, it’s impossible to accept each case that comes in the door.

Evaluating the medical malpractice case

At the first consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer, the attorney will be faced with the decision as to whether he can take on the case.  The two main factors to consider include (1) the issues of liability regarding the medical provider(s) and (2) the amount of damages involved.  In order to successfully prove a medical malpractice case, it will generally require testimony coming from a physician in the same field and from the same or similar community.  Depending upon the issue involved, a secondary specialist physician may be required to discuss inherent issues involved in the case (such as an infectious disease expert in addition to an emergency room physician expert.

Because of these requirements, it will generally cost between $50,000 and $75,000 or more to prepare a case for trial.  It is for these reasons that medical malpractice attorneys generally will not accept cases where the medical damages in a successful case won’t bring enough to (1) pay the funds used to prosecute the case and (2) pay the attorney enough to keep his law office expenses and personal and family obligations paid.  This is one of the two main factors an attorney has to consider along with the issue of whether there is clear medical liability in the case.

Tort “reform” caps on noneconomic damages

Texas is also one of the states with the most stringent tort “reform” laws in the country.  Each case includes non-economic caps of $250,000.  With the discussion above regarding a case costing $75,000 or more to even get to the courthouse, it’s becomes very clear very quickly that it’s quite a risk to pay $75,000 in hopes to get a verdict of $250,000, and that’s only if the jury awards the maximum amount possible by law.  You also have to ask yourself whether it’s worth it to you as a client.  Even if you are successful, and a jury awards you the maximum amount possible — $250,000 – you have to realize that 40% of that in a standard medical malpractice fee agreement will go to the attorney for the attorney’s fee, and the costs of litigation (up to $75,000 or more) will come off the top of the verdict.  That only leaves maybe $100,000 for your troubles, and that’s regardless of the medical mistake: loss of limb, loss of life, etc.  But…that’s the law in Texas, and that’s the current state of the medical malpractice claim in Texas.

For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced trial lawyer who has experience in medical malpractice cases.

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