Medical Malpractice in the Age of Coronavirus

May 26, 2020


The novel coronavirus continues to impact the global population, including right here in Texas. Even as states begin the reopening process, we have seen an increase in the number of cases, and there is no shortage of tragic stories coming out of the Lone Star State. For example, a Galveston-Houston church that reopened its doors on May 2 as Texas began to loosen its stay-at-home orders made headlines after Father Donnell Kirchner died of COVID-19. At least five members of the congregation tested positive for the virus.

It is no secret COVID-19 has created widespread disruption and controversy from all sides. Many people continue to underestimate the seriousness of the virus, pushing for the economy to reopen, even if it means putting people at risk. According to leading experts and scientists, there is a genuine possibility that these actions could lead to a second wave that may have devastating consequences. For some victims of the virus, negligence and medical malpractice are to blame. Earlier this month, we discussed that negligent nursing homes could face medical malpractice lawsuits, and we are now seeing this is a real possibility. However, many states have laws protecting nursing homes from these types of lawsuits, such as Louisiana.

If you lost a loved one to COVID-19 and you believe another person or organization’s negligence contributed to their illness, please contact Shamieh Law. Our Dallas medical malpractice lawyers are keeping a watchful eye on these cases and will do everything we can to ensure justice is served. Sadly, one-third of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are nursing home residents or workers, highlighting a very real problem in our nation. COVID-19 is contagious and particularly dangerous to older adults with underlying conditions. Rather than protect this vulnerable population, we have seen countless cases of malpractice and outright negligence that have contributed to the shocking number of cases in the U.S.

COVID-19 in Texas

As of May 21, Texas has 49,912 confirmed COVID-19 cases, a 1,411 increase from the previous number. 29,359 people have recovered, and there have been 1,369 deaths. Harris County has reported the most cases and deaths, followed closely by Dallas County (145 deaths) and Tarrant County (104 deaths). According to a recent Washington Post, Dallas and Houston are among the areas in the nation that have rapidly reopened and are in danger of a second wave of infections expected in the next month.

Understanding Medical Malpractice Laws 

Regardless of the circumstances, medical malpractice cases are often complex. In the event you lost a loved one, and you believe malpractice is to blame, you must file a lawsuit within the specified timeframe. This timeframe varies from state to state based on the statute of limitations, which is where an experienced medical malpractice attorney will come in handy. Today’s article aims to take a closer look at medical malpractice in the coronavirus age. While the vast majority of our nation’s doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are heroes amid this pandemic, others have acted negligently, putting innocent people at risk.

Top Texas lawmakers are asking Congress to protect employers and healthcare professionals from lawsuits during the pandemic. Still, there are numerous cases where these individuals should be held accountable for their misactions.

Medical Malpractice in Texas

Before we go any further, let’s look at what it takes to sue for medical malpractice in Texas. Medical malpractice suits can be filed for the following reasons:

  • The treatment, lack of treatment, or failure to meet the accepted standards of medical care, resulting in injury or death
  • You must be able to prove this harm was the direct result of the medical professional’s negligence
  • In Texas, negligence is defined as: “conscious act (or omission of info) that entails an extreme risk of harm to others, which the perpetrator was aware of and still proceeded with”
  • Texas also states that this negligence must “willfully and wantonly” go against the standard of medical care that is owed to the patient by law
  • The standard of medical care varies depending on the professional’s practice area

Now that we know how Texas defines medical malpractice, let’s go over the state’s statute of limitations, or time limits, for filing a suit:

  • You must file a claim within two years of the malpractice incident
  • Or, within two years of hospitalization when the malpractice took place
  • Children under the age of 12 have until their 14th birthday to file a lawsuit
  • If you plan to move forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must notify the healthcare provider by written mail 60 days before filing suit

Who is responsible for medical malpractice in Texas?

In Texas, all healthcare institutions and providers may be held liable in medical malpractice lawsuits. A healthcare provider is defined as the following:

  • A physician
  • A registered nurse
  • A dentist
  • A podiatrist
  • A pharmacist
  • A chiropractor
  • An optometrist
  • A healthcare institution

We hope the above information will help you understand your rights and options, should you believe malpractice contributed to your experience with COVID-19.

During these unprecedented times, it is paramount we stay informed from reliable sources, minimize exposure, and support one another. If you have questions about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit due to COVID-19, please contact Shamieh Law. Our experienced lawyers understand how stressful these times are and will do everything we can to help you. If your loved one was residing in a Texas nursing home and contracted coronavirus and you believe negligence or malpractice were to blame, give us a call.