What has tort reform changed in regard to Texas medical malpractice cases?
About 98,000 people die every year from a range of preventable medical errors. The individuals who actually survive don’t have things easier though; they face lifelong disabilities, aches, pains and may possibly be restricted from returning to work thanks to the injuries they sustained. Sweeping tort reform over the last couple of years has made it virtually impossible for survivors (as well as families of the deceased victims) to live a life of dignity and comfort.
A tort, simply put, is a civil common law claim used in the justice system to seek out compensation in certain cases (such as personal injury cases). Back in 2003, Texas passed far-reaching tort reform in regard to medical malpractice lawsuits. Among other things, this tort reform measure put caps on damages (statutory limits to the amount of money one could recover in a lawsuit).
Why did Texans pass tort reform?
Proponents of tort reform say that these changes are needed in order to stop people from winning frivolous lawsuits. I’d like to point out how ridiculous that idea is. Caps on damages simply prevent victims with strong cases from recovering what they truly deserve. If a jury decides that the victim is owed $1M after listening to all the evidence, why should that amount be statutorily limited? The answer: tort reform was enacted to protect insurance companies by limiting the amount of money they had to pay to plaintiffs across the state.
In addition to damage caps, an expert witness must also be hired on all medical malpractice cases brought in Texas. While an attorney would never go to court without an expert witness, hiring a medical expert is usually a very expensive up-front cost and many doctors are understandably hesitant to “call out” another doctor.
What can be done about tort reform?
Tort reform simply seeks to protect defendants with deep pockets and insurance companies who aren’t willing to pay up to take care of a plaintiff’s needs for the rest of his or her life. Caps on damages take away the jury’s ability to determine what is right, and instead, literally only serves to limit the liability of the insurance companies. At the same time, most of these reforms aren’t known to the general public due to lack of knowledge or interest. However, there are lobby groups organizing petitions to stop tort reform in numerous cities in Texas; all you have to do is be active in your community and take action when the opportunity presents itself. Texans voted to enact tort reform in 2003, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be repealed. By better-educating Texans about tort reform, we hope to eventually reverse the damage caused by it.
If you’re a personal injury or medical malpractice victim in Texas, please get in touch with Rasansky Law Firm at 1-877-405-4313 today. We can answer your questions and give you advice about your specific case with a free consultation. Let us help you recover the damages that are commensurate with your injuries.