The Medical Malpractice Process

Houston Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death Attorney

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is simply medical negligence. Health care providers must obey the "standard of care" for their specialty. For example, a nurse must act as a reasonably prudent nurse would act under similar circumstances. An obstetrician must do what a reasonably prudent obstetrician would do, etc. If they fail to do so, they are negligent. However, the negligence must be the "proximate cause" of legally-recoverable damages. Negligence that does not cause injury does not constitute a viable case.

How do I know if I have a case?

If you believe you have been the victim of medical negligence, you should have your case evaluated by an experienced injury attorney. Our intake coordinator will obtain the preliminary information necessary for us to determine whether it is the type of medical malpractice case we can handle. She will determine the extent of the injuries and damages, the identity of the party or parties that appear responsible, and whether the statute of limitations is a factor. Assuming the case appears legally, factually and economically feasible, she will obtain the medical records and we will begin our investigation.

How long will it take before I know whether I have a case?

Medical malpractice cases are complicated and the facts are rarely what they appear on the surface. At Hampton & King, we obtain and carefully analyze the medical records, films and lab studies and we consult specialists in the relevant medical fields. Depending on how long it takes to obtain the medical records, this process can take 90 days, plus or minus.

Should I get the medical records?

If you obtain the medical records, it can expedite our review. However, assuming the statute of limitations is not a factor, you should let our law firm obtain the records. They can be expensive and we will bear that expense. The main reason, however, is that the law requires the potential defendant(s) to provide "complete and unaltered" records in response to a specific request and statutorily prescribed authorization. That process is the best means of assuming that we have obtained all of the records.

What is the statute of limitations in a medical negligence case?

With rare exception, it is two years from the date of the negligent act. The exceptions mostly involve minors and persons mentally disabled from the negligent act, but you should assume that you have only two years from the negligent act. Since it takes a significant amount of time to obtain and review the records, many law firms will not accept a case within six months of the expiration of limitations.

What will it cost to hire your firm?

There will be absolutely no out-of-pocket costs. We will advance all costs and expenses. If we do not accept the case, or if we are not successful in obtaining a recovery for you, you will owe us nothing. Our fee will be a percentage of your net recovery.

If you take my case, how long will it take?

The average amount of time, from initial client interview until resolution of the case, is about two years. However, the time line can vary greatly depending on the number of defendants, the time required to gather all of the records, the court that we draw, etc.

How does "tort reform" impact my rights?

It will undoubtedly have an impact, primarily on non-economic damages such as recovery for pain or mental suffering which were severely limited. However, the so called "tort reform" legislation included several complicated provisions and require each case to be evaluated individually.