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by Jeff Rasansky - March 11, 2014
Jeff Rasansky
Jeff Rasansky, managing partner of Rasansky Law Firm, is an aggressive Dallas personal injury lawyer with more than 25 years of legal experience.

Answer:

In 2003, Texas residents approved a constitutional amendment (tort reform) to cap non-economic damages at $250,000 for all medical malpractice cases. The vote, called Proposition 12, passed by a narrow margin. Although over a dozen other states also have caps on non-economic medical malpractice damages, the medical error award caps in Texas are completely unfair to wrongful death victims, and those with debilitating lifelong injuries.

While victims of malpractice (and the families of those killed) can still collect uncapped “economic damages” such as hospital bills, lost wages, and expected future medical costs, they can only collect a quarter-million dollars in compensation for pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.

Additionally, as per Texas CPRC §74.303, “in a wrongful death or survival action on a health care liability claim where final judgment is rendered against a physician or health care provider, the limit of civil liability for all damages, including exemplary damages, shall be limited to an amount not to exceed $500,000 for each claimant, regardless of the number of defendant physicians or health care providers against whom the claim is asserted or the number of separate causes of action on which the claim is based.” Adjusted for the change in the consumer price index, this limit is approximately $1.8 million today.

Some believe that these medical malpractice caps encourage doctors to practice in Texas, save hospitals money, and lower insurance premiums. The problem is that countless studies have shown this to be false. In reality, healthcare costs are rising, healthcare insurance premiums are higher, and there has actually been a decline in physician supply. In fact, Texas has significantly fewer primary care physicians per capita than the United States as a whole.

This rule is simply unfair to those who have been permanently harmed by medical mistakes, and to the families of those who lost loved ones due to preventable hospital errors caused by malpractice. Why did the insurance companies want to pass this rule protecting bad doctors? To save themselves from having to pay out on legitimate claims, of course.

Have you or a loved one been harmed due to a medical error, such as a surgical mistake, medication error, or misdiagnosis? Speak to a Texas medical malpractice attorney at Rasansky Law Firm today by calling 1-877-405-4313.

  1. December 7, 2017

    This is unfair to say that it protects only “bad doctors”. The caps also increase the amount of doctors. What if a small business that was very helpful and it shuts down because of a medical malpractice lawsuit coming off of defective machine.

    • December 7, 2017

      Hi Robert,
      I wish it were true that these caps at least did some good by increasing the amount of doctors in Texas, but studies have shown that, unfortunately, this just isn’t true (see: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2047433).

      With regard to your hypothetical, a claim involving a defective piece of machinery would fall under “product liability” law, and thus would not be affected by medical malpractice damage caps at all. When we say these caps protect bad doctors, it’s because they only apply to cases where a doctor actually committed clear-cut medical malpractice as defined by the law (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_malpractice_in_the_United_States), AND where the victim’s non-pecuniary damages (e.g., pain and suffering, permanent disability, disfigurement, loss of a limb, paralysis, etc.) exceed $250,000.

      Medical malpractice damage caps absolutely protect bad doctors (more-accurately the insurance companies, as they actually pay out the claims), and unfortunately, at the expense of victims who’ve actually suffered the most.

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