Estimates of yearly deaths from medical malpractice vary widely and the actual total may be higher than 400,000/year. Essentially medical malpractice occurs when a patient is injured as a result of a health care provider breaching the appropriate standard of care. Although this sounds easy to prove an expert witness is necessary to establish the applicable standard of care making medical malpractice cases expensive for attorneys.
The situation in Texas is even worse for victims of medical malpractice than in most states. Texas’ tort reform measures put in place in 2003 have reduced the number of attorneys willing to accept medical malpractice cases. These measures include a requirement for an expert witness to evaluate the merits of a case and write a report before or shortly after filing a lawsuit and arbitrary caps on damages.
However, there is a silver lining to tort reform that applies more to clients than to their attorneys in medical malpractice cases. The requirement for a preliminary report means that early in your case your attorney likely will spend the money to have a medical expert review your case. Secondly, the damages caps, expert report requirement, and rigid pretrial deadlines force your attorney to pay close attention to your case should he or she decide to take it. It’s true that in most personal injury cases you and your attorney are, “in it together,” since your attorney will most likely take a contingent fee, however, in a medical malpractice case you and your attorney are “in it together” like no other type of litigation.