Can I handle a Texas medical malpractice claim on my own, or should I hire a lawyer?Painter Law Firm's frequently asked question (FAQ) series
From time to time, people call Painter Law Firm to ask for advice about a settlement proposal that they’ve negotiated directly with a doctor or hospital based on medical malpractice. I’ve learned some things from meeting with such folks.
What it boils down to is that it’s a good idea for injured patients to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney from the start.
I have some unique experiences in evaluating medical malpractice cases.
I’m a former hospital administrator, so I understand how hospital leaders look at cases.
I began my legal career at a large law firm where I defended hospitals and other healthcare providers in medical malpractice lawsuits, so I understand how defense attorneys analyze cases.
Now, having solely represented injured patients and families for many years, I know that it’s outside the knowledge and experience of most people to figure out what a medical malpractice claim is worth.
When patients try to negotiate a settlement directly with a hospital, they usually deal with a patient advocate and the in-house risk management office. After listening to what the patient has to say about what happened and doing a preliminary investigation, these hospital employees typically ask the patient and family what they’d like the hospital to do.
It’s at this point that injured patients make their first mistake. With no experience to draw on to figure out how to answer that question, they look to their out-of-pocket expenses. When you add those numbers up, it’s usually not a lot of money.
Hospital representatives jump at the opportunity to close out a legitimate potential claim and keep it confidential and away from public view for a lowball settlement. Sometimes all they offer is a few dollars on top of writing off the medical bills that the patient incurred because of the hospital’s own poor care.
A top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, on the other hand, knows and understands that out-of-pocket expenses, or economic damages, are only part of the equation. Under Texas law, a medical malpractice plaintiff can recover for both economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages are the types of harms and losses that are easy to put a dollar sign to. The significant elements of economic damages are typically lost wages and additional medical bills (past or future) caused by the negligent, substandard treatment.
Noneconomic damages are harms and losses that you can easily put a dollar sign next to. Think of things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, impairment, and disfigurement. These are the life-changing injuries that are frequently the most devastating to patients and families. While they’re more abstract to evaluate, an experienced Texas medical malpractice lawyer knows what range of recovery to expect.
I can’t think of anyone who I’ve met who tried to negotiate a medical malpractice settlement on their own who didn’t leave money on the table. In my opinion, it’s penny smart and pound foolish not to hire a top-rated experienced medical malpractice attorney from the start.
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. Contact him by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.
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