Tort reform has made medical malpractice cases in Texas very difficult to pursue.
The Texas healthcare system has gone through a lot of changes over the last 10-15 years. Before 2003, medical malpractice claims were like any other personal injury claim. The legal structures which existed at that time made it possible for people to receive adequate compensation for any kind of medical complication caused by a doctor in the course of treatment.
So what changed?
Not surprisingly (to someone who deals with them daily) the insurance companies who insured doctors and medical professionals against these claims REALLY didn’t want to have to pay these claims anymore. Paying out insurance claims means less money for them. Through a very large (and successful) marketing effort, these insurance companies were able to convince the general public that this country was too litigious, that most medical malpractice claims were frivolous, and that medical professionals need to be statutorily protected from all lawsuits – no matter how valid they are. Go ahead and ask someone who is not in the legal or medical field what they think about medical malpractice lawsuits, and you’ll see how the general public still truly believes that these cases are frivolous.
I want to make it clear to readers that frivolous lawsuits do not win. If a case makes it in front of a jury, both sides argue their point, and the jury finds in favor of the victim, that makes it a valid case no matter what it looks like to those uninvolved (take the infamous hot coffee lawsuit, for example). EVEN IF frivolous cases were a problem, the solution should be to prevent those lawsuits – not to put a damages cap on ALL lawsuits. But that’s exactly what the State of Texas decided to do.
Enter the 2003 tort reform targeting the Texas healthcare system. Probably the most damaging change put in place was the capping of ALL non-economic damages at a sum of $250,000. No matter if the doctor permanently disabled your child, your child is only ever going to get a MAXIMUM of $250,000. Does that sound fair to those with serious medical malpractice claims? A cap on damages ONLY serves to limit the liability of the insurance companies. It doesn’t stop frivolous cases; that’s for sure.
At the same time, the legal process and courts made it that much harder to sue a medical professional or establishment and win. Other conditions put in place included requiring a medical expert’s report addressing the issues of liability and causation for each physician against whom a claim is asserted, proving vicarious liability, as well as restrictive statutes of limitation. All these conditions (on top of insurance companies that are more willing to let claimants file suits knowing that they might end up spending more money in the court system) has made it that much harder to take on a medical malpractice case in Texas.
So who did this to Texas?
Who’s responsible? Why were citizens not informed of these proposed changes? Well, apart from the public perception campaign against “frivolous” medical malpractice lawsuits, heavy lobbying by big insurance, and backing by major politicians (such as Rick Perry), it all came down to a vote. Unfortunately, Texans ultimately voted for tort reform thinking that it would help reduce medical costs. Not only have medical costs gone up significantly since then, but legitimate victims of medical malpractice now find it almost impossible to find an attorney to help with their case.
What can I do?
As a victim of medical malpractice, you may find it hard to recover in a timely manner from an injury caused by malpractice. This often results in a loss of income, mental anguish, as well as the need to seek further medical treatment for any complications that may have arisen from your first course of treatment.
Most Texas law firms now stay away from medical malpractice suits because of the fact that they think these cases require excessive effort. This isn’t always the case; a good law firm which has the needed experience may be able to take on your case and get the justice that you need. Rasansky Law Firm would like to invite you to get in touch with us so we can advise you on your legal options. Call us today at 1-877-405-4313.