Medical Malpractice

Austin Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Millions of Dollars Recovered for Victims of Negligence

Medical malpractice, in plain English, is when medical practitioners make things worse for patients who came to them for help—when a trip to the hospital for outpatient surgery results in brain damage because of the amount of anesthetic used, for example, or when a trip to the doctor to see why you have pain gets you sent home with directions to take ibuprofen and take it easy ends up causing such a delay in finding cancer in your body that it’s too late to treat.

Nobody’s perfect, including doctors, but the practice of medicine has such serious potential consequence that doctor and other caregivers are held to a very high standard of care. It doesn’t take much in the way of carelessness for medical care to result in death or serious permanent injury. And, unfortunately, medical errors are very easy to make. In 2005 alone, some 2,450 medical malpractice cases made it all the way through trial. Many, many times that number were settled before or during trial.

Medical malpractice claims have always been difficult. In recent years, legislators (urged on by doctors and the insurance lobby) have made it more difficult in various ways. In Texas, the medical malpractice laws were revised in 2003 to, among other things, limit the amount of noneconomic damages that the victim of medical malpractice can recover.

If you believe you or your loved one is the victim of medical negligence or malpractice, it is absolutely crucial that you speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. At Briggle & Polan, PLLC, we have helped our clients recover millions of dollars and, most importantly, secure the justice and fair recoveries they were owed.

Contact us online or call (512) 400-3278 for a free, confidential consultation with one of our Austin medical malpractice lawyers today.

Wrongful Death Resulting from Medical Malpractice

If the person injured by the medical malpractice dies as a result, the victim’s family suffers various kinds of harm, financial and otherwise. That kind of harm is called wrongful death and is different from any claim by the victim of the malpractice. There are very specific rules on who can bring these wrongful death claims. To recover, you still have to establish that the death was “wrongful,” which parallels the proof of negligence in medical care.

Products Liability Claims in Medicine

Modern medicine makes use of an ever-increasing number of basic tools like scalpels and sutures, as well as devices as diverse as implantable electronics, ventilators, bypass machines, etc. If your injury is because one of these products is defective, your claim is likely for products liability, not medical negligence. However, even that simple statement may not always hold true; what if your injury was caused by a product’s defect and the doctor should have identified that defect? If it’s a products liability claim, the manufacturer, seller, and distributor may all be liable, and there’s no need to establish a standard of medical care.

Basic Types of Malpractice

The kinds of negligence that typically cause patients injury can be roughly described as:

Gavel with money and pills

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Failure to employ appropriate treatment
  • Failure to adequately inform the patient of the dangers of the proposed treatment
  • Negligence in providing the treatment

Failure to Diagnose vs. Misdiagnosis

Failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis are very similar. In the first, the doctor fails to discover a condition requiring treatment and the delay in discovery harms the patient. Failing to detect cancer in a patient until it is too late to treat it successfully is an example of failure to diagnose.

In the second, the doctor fails to find the true cause of the patient’s health problems, but diagnoses a different problem. For example, if meningitis is diagnosed as flu or migraine or a heart attack is dismissed as gastroenteritis, this is a misdiagnosis.

Improper Treatment

Improper treatment involves administering a treatment that is simply improper for the condition that has been diagnosed. It could mean that the treatment is known not to be effective or that, while the treatment itself is effective, it doesn’t do as good a job as another treatment that was available.

Negligence in providing the treatment is a very broad category that includes everything from inadvertently cutting the spinal cord to failing to monitor anesthesia to prescribing the wrong drug to hundreds of other specific actions.

Surgical Errors

Tens of millions of Americans undergo surgical procedures every year, and errors are commonplace. Most surgical errors are minor, cause little or no trouble, and are never reported. Some, however, are serious and have lasting negative effects on the patient’s health or result in death.

These are some of the very serious surgical errors that are often shown to be medical malpractice:

  • Operating on the wrong body part
  • Amputating the wrong limb
  • Operating on the wrong patient
  • Injuring a nerve during surgery
  • Making an incision at the wrong location
  • Leaving a sponge or surgical instrument in the patient
  • Equipment failure

Only about 0.5 percent of the errors that occur are wrong-patient or wrong-site errors; one in every 24 surgical errors is caused by an equipment problem. In a 20 year period, $1.3 billion was paid to victims of surgical errors in the U.S., according to one study.

Anesthesia Errors

Going hand-in-hand with surgical errors are errors in choosing and administering anesthesia to surgical patients.

These are some of the common types of anesthesia errors that might prove to be medical malpractice:

  • Failing to carefully monitor the anesthetized patient
  • Giving an excessive amount of anesthesia
  • Not giving sufficient anesthesia
  • Interactions with other drugs prescribed to the patient
  • Allergic reactions to the chosen anesthesia drug
  • Delaying delivery of anesthesia
  • Anesthesia equipment defects

Failure to Inform the Patient of Risks Involved in a Treatment or Procedure

When a doctor fails to tell a patient about the known risks of a specific treatment (or diagnostic procedure), the patient loses the opportunity to reject the treatment and/or to investigate further. In legal terms, the patient’s consent to the procedure was not an informed consent.

What Is Needed to Prove Medical Malpractice?

The specific elements that have to be proved to recover compensation are as follows (note: “doctor” is used for simplicity; it could well be a hospital or a care provider of some other kind):

  • That there was a doctor-patient relationship which created a legal duty to the victim
  • The doctor failed to live up to that duty, by acting negligently
  • That act of negligence caused the victim’s injury
  • The monetary value of the injury that was negligently caused

The core of medical malpractice claims is negligence. Did the doctor do something that a reasonable, competent doctor would not have done or fail to do something that a reasonable, competent doctor would have done?

That analysis can get very complicated very quickly. Does the standard of care differ depending on whether the doctor was a general practitioner or a specialist? Does it vary from state to state? From large city to rural area? Does it matter if the care was during an emergency? It takes a lawyer experienced in handling Texas medical malpractice claims to come up with the right answers when those answers are needed.

How Your Attorney Will Go about Proving Malpractice

Medical malpractice claims involve the small details of medical practice, anatomy, physiology, medical devices, drug actions and interactions, and many other things that most people don’t understand. It is virtually impossible to establish a medical malpractice claim without extensive expert testimony. Medical treatment leaves a lengthy trail of documentary evidence that is usually crucial to establishing a claim.

These records, with the testimony of all people who were present during the relevant actions, are the tools for proving:

  • What happened, generally
  • Which caregivers did what during the event in question
  • What the condition of the patient was during the events
  • Any statements of concern or warning that were made by anyone present at the time
  • What the patient was told about the medical condition
  • Any potential treatments and diagnostic tools. The types of records include:
    • The notes from all treating physicians, including any specialists
    • Charts, admission forms, and notes from all hospital contacts, including the ER
    • Notes from any surgery that was performed
    • Any notes and communications from nurses (to other nurses, to doctors, to administrators)
    • All consent forms signed by the patient
    • All pharmacy records
    • All records from diagnostic entities like labs

Medical Malpractice Damages under Texas Law

As mentioned earlier, Texas limits non-economic damages (pain and suffering, etc.) for medical malpractice injuries. These damage caps apply to:

  • Individual doctors
  • Individual hospitals
  • The cumulative recovery from all defendants

There’s no cap on the actual amount of economic damages for personal injuries caused by medical malpractice (caps do exist if the claim is for wrongful death). Economic damages include your actual expenses like medical care, physical therapy, and the like, as well as amounts you have forgone because of your injuries, such as lost wages.

Punitive damages may be recovered under some circumstances showing that the negligence was particularly egregious, but, again, Texas has a cap on these damages. It takes an experienced Austin medical malpractice lawyer to navigate these rules and to keep you informed every step of the way.

Get Experienced Legal Help for Your Texas Medical Malpractice Claim

It’s hard to overstate how complex and time-consuming medical practice cases can be. Many different caregivers and numerous other organizations may have been involved in the care that resulted in injury. Any one—or all—may have been responsible for a patient’s injuries.

There are time limits to worry about, including questions about when the injury occurred and when the patient discovered it, both of which can affect the time limits. Some understanding of the medical conditions and procedures is essential very early on. The process of collecting the relevant documents and arranging for expert medical testimony is often time-consuming and can be very frustrating since so much of the evidence is in the hands of the very people who may have caused the injury.

The help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney is crucial. The injury attorneys at the law offices of Briggle & Polan, PLLC have extensive experience and a history of success in obtaining the compensation that injured patients sorely need, through a fair settlement when that’s possible and through a court trial when that’s necessary. The earlier we start building the foundation for the case, the better and faster things will go.

Call us today at (512) 400-3278 to arrange a free consultation.

Hear From Our Clients

  • If you are looking for excellent and honest attorneys, call them.

    “If you are looking for excellent and honest attorneys, call them. You will not be disappointed.”

    - Paige
  • It feels good to have a team on your side that knows what they’re doing and is willing to help you against big faceless insurance companies that don’t want to pay up what they owe.

    “I found myself in a bad situation dealing with insurance adjusters that had no intention of seeing me compensated for damages their client inflicted. Parker and Hayden were positive, energetic, and ...”

    - Matt
  • I very much appreciate all their hard work and will be happy to refer to them should the need come up for friends.

    “This is the one company that would take on my case after being rejected by two other law firms. After pursuing the insurance company, they were able to get the full amount.”

    - Sandi
  • They got me the help I? needed within a few days of hiring them.

    “My settlement was awesome and I got everything I needed to get back on my feet”

    - Karina
  • These guys really helped me when no one else would.

    “They really fought for me and their paralegals were the best. They were constantly in communication with me and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a lawyer.”

    - Lauren

We've Recovered Millions

  • $1.8 Million Delivery Truck Accident

    Our client was t-boned by a large package delivery truck that was traveling in excess of 70 mph. He sustained a severe neck injury that required spinal surgery. *Net to client was $759,182.96.

  • $350 Thousand Company Truck Collision

    Our client was struck by a company truck that ran a red light at a busy intersection. *Net to client was $166,651.36.

  • $400 Thousand Company Truck Wreck

    Our client was traveling down a residential street when a company truck backed out of a driveway into the side of her vehicle. *Net to client was $110,000.

  • $100 Thousand DWI Wreck Resolved

    Our client was struck by a drunk driver in Round Rock, Texas. *Net to client was $51,113.04.

  • $115 Thousand Distracted Driver Caused Collision

    A distracted driver failed to yield the right of way to our client, causing a collision. *Net to client was $25,035.44.

  • $132 Thousand Distracted Driver

    Our client was the passenger in a vehicle struck by a distracted motorist who failed to yield the right of way at an intersection. *Net to client was $33,250.59.

  • $112.5 Thousand Truck Crash Into Building

    A company driver lost control of his vehicle and smashed into a convenience store, injuring our client in the process. *Net to client was $30,259.56.

  • $82 Thousand T-Bone Collision

    Our client had to be airlifted to the hospital as a result of a t-bone collision. *Net proceeds to client were $23,914.57.

  • $85 Thousand T-Bone Collision Resolved

    Our client was t-boned by a distracted driver who ran a stop sign and required surgery for injuries sustained. *Attorney fees and expenses totaled $30,267.51.

  • $225 Thousand Collision With A Distracted Driver Operating An 18-Wheeler

    Our client severely injured her back in the wreck and the driver did not have the required commercial driver's license needed to operate the truck. *Net proceeds to client were $89,737.54.

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