Texas's Cap for Medical Malpractice Damages

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What Are Medical Malpractice Damage Caps?

Many states uphold laws that limit the damages available to medical malpractice plaintiffs. Most states limit only "non-economic" damages. Non-economic damages are subjective, unquantifiable losses such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and disfigurement. States usually do not limit "economic" damages, which are objective, quantifiable losses including medical bills, lost wages, and lost future earnings.

Does Texas Cap Medical Malpractice Damages?

Like the majority of states, Texas has limitations on medical malpractice damages. Texas has three relevant categories of medical malpractice damage caps:

1. Limitations on Non-Economic Damages

The limitations on damages vary based on whether the defendant is a healthcare provider (e.g., a physician) or a healthcare institution. If the defendant is a healthcare provider, each claimant is limited to recovering $250,000 in non-economic damages. If the defendant is a single healthcare institution, each claimant is limited to $250,000 in non-economic damages. If the judgment is rendered against more than one institution, each claimant is limited to $250,000 in non-economic damages per defendant. Furthermore, each claimant can only recover $500,000 total in non-economic damages. None of these caps are indexed for inflation.

2. Limitations on Total Damages in Wrongful Death and Survival Actions

In a wrongful death or survival action against a healthcare provider, each claimant is limited to $500,000 in total damages in 1977 dollars (or approximately $1.8 million, accounting for inflation). The cap does not apply to any necessary medical, hospital, or custodian care received before the judgment or required in the future.

3. Limitations on Punitive Damages

Texas also limits punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to penalize a defendant for outrageous or malicious conduct and to deter such conduct in the future. In Texas, plaintiffs can recover punitive damages of $200,000 or twice the amount of economic plus non-economic damages up to $750,000 — whichever is greater.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If a negligent doctor has injured you or a loved one, you should speak to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to learn more about your rights and remedies. A lawyer can assist you with filing a medical malpractice claim with the court. A lawyer will also be able to explain the value of your case and help you navigate through the complicated legal process. 

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Last Modified: 03-18-2014 10:12 AM PDT

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