The short answer is “no.”
Figuring out the exact date that the statute of limitations expires under Texas law for a medical negligence case is sometimes complex.
A good starting place is that general statute of limitations in Texas for medical negligence cases is two years after the date of the negligent act or omission by a health care provider. It’s never less than two years. In some limited circumstances, the two years starts ticking later, such as when the injured patient is a minor or when the continuing treatment doctrine applies.
Then there’s the discovery rule, which may apply when the negligence and injury were inherently not discoverable by the patient. This comes up most commonly in situations where a surgeon or nurse leaves sponge or some other supply in the patient’s body after the surgery.
In some areas of Texas law, other than medical malpractice, the courts have rather liberally applied the discovery rule. When it comes to medical malpractice cases, though, appellate courts have held the reins tightly.
I’ve had many potential clients who’ve been fed bad information by inexperienced lawyers. They’ve been told that they have two years after discovering medical malpractice to file a lawsuit.
They’re shocked when I tell them that the best course of action is to race to the courthouse and get the case filed. Texas courts have consistently held that any delay in filing a medical malpractice case after the normal statute of limitations must be reasonable and accompanied by an explanation for the delay.
Knowing how to handle the statute of limitations and discovery rule issues is another reason why it’s important to hire an experienced Texas medical malpractice attorney immediately to help you evaluate the potential claim.
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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.