State Supreme Court Rejects Hospital's Attempt to Avoid Liability for Patient's Injury

The Supreme Court of Texas recently released an opinion that will send a plaintiff’s claim against a hospital back to the trial court to proceed towards a jury trial, reversing a lower appellate court’s ruling dismissing the claim. The Texas Court of Appeals had previously agreed with the hospital, held that the plaintiff did not properly file a medical malpractice claim against the hospital, and dismissed the case, which was filed after the plaintiff was injured in an accident while visiting a patient at the defendant hospital. The latest ruling by the highest court in the state summarily revived the case, with the Texas Supreme Court finding that the plaintiff’s claim was based on a slip-and-fall injury in the hospital, and it did not require the same filing procedures as a medical malpractice claim based on the negligent treatment of a patient.

The Injury Occurred at a Hospital, But Was It Medical Malpractice?

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The plaintiff in the case of Galvan v. Memorial Hermann Hospital System was visiting a relative in the hospital when she slipped and fell on water that had apparently spilled into the hall from a restroom. She was injured as a result of her fall. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the hospital, alleging negligence in allowing the water hazard to exist and cause the plaintiff’s injury.

The hospital fought the claim as if it were a medical malpractice lawsuit, and it urged the dismissal of the case because the plaintiff did not include a medical expert report with the case filing, as is required in a medical malpractice lawsuit under Texas law. The hospital’s argument was accepted by the Texas Court of Appeals, who ruled that the case was related to the safety of the hospital and should be construed as a medical malpractice lawsuit in spite of the fact that the plaintiff wasn’t a patient of the hospital when the accident occurred.

The Texas Supreme Court issued a strongly worded opinion without hearing an oral argument on the case, ruling that the claim was not a claim of medical malpractice, or a “Health Care Liability claim” that would trigger the expert report requirement. The court found that there was not a sufficient relationship between the safety standards that the hospital was alleged to have violated and the provision of medical services that would require the case to be filed as a medical malpractice action. Based on the ruling, the plaintiff will have her chance for relief under the more procedurally lenient rules that apply to a slip-and-fall case.

Maryland Medical Malpractice Claim Requirements

In Maryland, a medical malpractice claim must be filed with an expert report, as is the case in Texas, and a plaintiff’s failure to properly adhere to the procedural requirements of a Maryland medical malpractice claim could result in their permanently losing the right to recover damages. If it is unclear whether a claim should be filed as a medical malpractice claim or a more standard negligence claim, a skilled Maryland malpractice attorney should be able to make alternative arguments at the outset to prevent the need for a costly appeal to get the plaintiff relief. Victims of medical malpractice or other negligence in a hospital should always seek accurate legal advice from a qualified attorney before deciding on a course of action.

Discuss Your Case with a Qualified Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you think you or a family member is the victim of medical negligence or malpractice, the Maryland and Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt can help you determine a course of action to follow for a full and fair recovery with as little headache and hassle as possible. With a dedicated advocate from Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt, you can feel comfortable with the handling of your case. Contact the Maryland malpractice attorneys at Wais, Vogelstein, Forman & Offutt today to discuss your case. We represent victims of medical malpractice and negligence nationwide. Call us at (410) 567-0800 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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