A new bill seeking to increase medical malpractice damage caps is causing a stir as legislators propose adjusting the caps annually for inflation. Texas law currently has a set limit to the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover in a medical malpractice claim. The current cap for non-economic damages is set at $250,000 per defendant, a limit established in 2003.
In this article, our Houston healthcare negligence attorney will discuss the support and opposition associated with House Bill 719, and how it could affect Texan’s seeking recovery from medical malpractice or negligence. To learn more about how changing legislation could impact your medical malpractice claim, contact MedMalFirm.com to speak directly with an attorney.
House Bill 719 is Causing a Stir in Texas
Healthcare reform is almost always a hot topic with two sides arguing their cases extensively before legislation ever reaches the legal system. HB 719 is no exception. Introduced by State Rep. Gene Wu (D-Houston), HB 719 proposes that Section 74.302 of Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code be amended with respect to liability limits. HB 719 proposes that each year, liability limits will be adjusted based on an increase or decrease in the consumer price index. The limit would be increased or decreased based on the limit multiplied by the percentage of the consumer price index, be it increased or decreased.
While the damage caps have been challenged and affirmed in the past, HB 719 is the first piece of legislation introduced with the aim of changing the law.
Supporters of HB 719
The current damage cap of $250,000 was set in 2003, which supporters of HB 719 argue is now equal to $180,000 in today’s dollars. The idea that valuing something today in terms of the economy in 2003 seems unfair and unjust in the eyes of those supporting HB 719. Further, supporters argue that many attorneys won’t take legitimate cases because there is little or no recovery due to the damage caps. This leaves injured Texan’s without recourse for medical malpractice or negligence that harmed them or a loved one.
Opposition to HB 719
On the other side of the debate, opposition to HB 719 argue that indexing the damage caps would increase the number of dubious claims, and would propel healthcare providers into defensive medicine tactics in order to protect themselves from being sued. It is further argued that indexing the caps would begin to unravel healthcare reform that has increased and improved healthcare in many parts of Texas. Supporters of the original cap, who are now opposing HB 719, claim that the cap helped to stop increasing insurance premiums for healthcare providers, which helped cure what was a “healthcare epidemic”.
Current Damage Caps in Texas
If you have been injured by medical malpractice or negligence, you likely have many questions and concerns about how damage caps may affect your case. At MedMalFirm.com, our team of medical malpractice attorneys want to help you understand your legal rights and be prepared for how to manage your case. Based on current laws in Texas, damage caps are only relevant to what is known as non-economic damages. Non-economic damages may include any of the following:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium (loss of a companion/loved one)
Non-economic damages are more difficult to place a value on than economic damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, or ongoing medical care. The damage cap on non-economic damages is highly controversial, and many believe unfair to those who are injured. So, what are the damage caps in Texas?
- Non-economic damages against a physician or healthcare provider – $250,000 per claimant.
- Non-economic damages against a single healthcare institution – $250,000 per claimant.
- Overall damages against a health care institution – $500,000 per claimant. No single institution can be held liable for more than $250,000 non-economic damages per claimant.
For economic damages, there are currently no damage caps set forth in Texas laws. Talk to your attorney about any limits or caps that could apply to your case depending on your unique situation.
What Damage Caps Mean for Texan’s
After suffering harm due to a physician, hospital, nursing home, or any other healthcare provider, the prospect of your recovery being limited can certainly be confusing and worrisome. It is important that anyone injured due to medical malpractice, birth injuries, or nursing home abuse keep solid records of all related expenses, including (but not limited to):
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Psychological or emotional care
- Home modifications
- Ongoing medical care or expected future medical care
Keeping solid records can help you and your attorney build a strong case. It is your burden (alongside your attorney) to prove that you were harmed due to negligence, and then determine a monetary value for the damages sought. The best way to start this process is to be aware of your rights and applicable laws, including laws relating to damage caps.
Medical Malpractice Attorneys For Texas
For more information about medical malpractice laws, or to schedule a free review of your case, contact MedMalFirm.com today. Our attorneys can help guide you through the process of building a case, and will work diligently to get you the compensation you need and deserve. Fill out our online form to get started, and our team will contact you as soon as possible.