There’s no law in Texas that prevents you from trying to settle a medical malpractice case on your own. On the other hand, there are a lot of laws in Texas that make it unlikely that you will be successful.
Your best bet is to hire an attorney—but not just any attorney, one that has specific medical malpractice trial experience.
In Texas, medical malpractice cases are strictly regulated by a group of tort reform laws generally described as “Chapter 74.” Lawyers who don’t regularly handle medical negligence cases typically have little knowledge about Chapter 74.
Here are three major hurdles that you must clear to pursue a medical case in Texas:
· A pre-suit notice letter and records authorization must be served 60 days before filing suit.
· Within 120 days of each defendant filing an official answer in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff must serve an expert report—and the expert’s resume—that details the standard of care, how it was violated, causation, and damage opinions.
· The general statute of limitations, or deadline, to file the lawsuit is two years.
In my experience—even in the most blatantly-obvious negligence cases—hospitals and doctors, and their insurance companies and risk managers, don’t step up and do the right thing unless they’re forced into it by an effective lawyer.
Defense teams find it difficult to work with unrepresented patients because they’re typically unfamiliar with the law and what’s needed to settle a case. Even in the best of circumstances, potential defendants will stall and delay, holding out hope that a would-be plaintiff will make a fatal mistake or miss a deadline. When that happens, the responsible parties get off scot-free.
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Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas.