Similar to most other states, Texas medical malpractice laws place caps to limit the amount of damages that injured patients may receive. Texas has three relevant categories of medical malpractice damage caps, including:
- Limitations on non-economic damages: The limitation on damages varies according to whether the defendant was a healthcare provider, such as a physician, or was a healthcare institution;
- If the defendant is a healthcare provider, for example, a doctor, each claimant is limited to $250,000 in non-economic damages;
- If the defendant is a healthcare institution, for example, a private practice, each claimant is limited to $250,000 in non-economic damages;
- If a judgment is rendered against more than one institution, such as a network of hospitals, each claimant is limited to $250,000 in non-economic damages per defendant;
- In addition, each claimant may only recover a total of $500,000 in non-economic damages;
- It is important to note that none of these caps have been indexed for inflation;
- Limitations on total damages in wrongful death and survival actions: Texas medical malpractice wrongful death caps are set at $500,000 in total damages for each claimant;
- This cap does not apply to any necessary medical, hospital, or custodian care that was received prior to the judgment or that will be required in the future; and
- Limitations on punitive damages: The State of Texas also limits punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to penalize a defendant for outrageous or malicious conduct;
- Punitive damages are also meant to deter the same or similar conduct in the future;
- In Texas, plaintiffs are allowed to recover punitive damages of up to $200,000, or twice the amount of economic plus non-economic damages, up to $750,000;
- The award will be whichever figure is the greater of the two.
If an individual has any questions regarding the Texas cap for medical malpractice damages, they should consult with an attorney in Texas.
What Are Medical Malpractice Damage Caps?
Economic damages in medical malpractice cases refer to the actual monetary losses that a victim or plaintiff suffered. Non-economic damages are monetary amounts that are awarded to a plaintiff for unquantifiable losses.
There are medical malpractice caps at both the state level and the federal level. Even though the United States Supreme Court has not specifically ruled on the topic of medical malpractice, it has made rulings on tort reform.
In the case State Farm v. Campbell (2003), the Supreme Court held that punitive damages cannot exceed the amount of damages that are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries by a ratio of nine to one. For example, if a plaintiff was awarded $1,000 for their injuries, the defendant cannot be forced to pay them more than $9,000 in punitive damages.
There are many states that have laws limiting the damages available to medical malpractice plaintiffs. The majority of states only limit non-economic damages because they are subjective and unquantifiable losses.
In general, states do not limit economic damages because they are objective and quantifiable. The caps placed on damages vary by state. This means that plaintiffs can receive different amounts in damages for the same injuries in different states. For example, many states cap damages at approximately $250,000, and other states allow plaintiffs to collect a much higher amount.
Damage caps for medical malpractice lawsuits are intended to prevent litigants from abusing the court system or filing frivolous claims. There are also a few states that do not impose any damage caps, including Wyoming and Kentucky.
It is also important to note that some states prohibit damage caps in situations that involve a wrongful death lawsuit. This means that if a deceased individual’s family member files a wrongful death lawsuit based on medical malpractice, they will not face restrictions associated with the amount of damages that they can receive in those states.
What Do Medical Malpractice Damages Cover?
Under Texas personal injury laws, medical malpractice occurs when a physician, medical professional, or healthcare organization fails to meet the standard duty of care that is required when managing, diagnosing, or treating a patient. The failure to meet this standard causes injury to the patient.
The failure to uphold the standard of duty of care that is required of all medical professionals is often associated with negligence. Medical malpractice laws allow injured patients to bring legal claims against negligent medical professionals.
This allows patients to recover damages for the harms that were caused by the medical professional’s substandard conduct. Whether or not medical professionals may be held liable for a patient’s injuries will depend on the facts of the specific case and the rules and requirements of the malpractice laws in the state.
The standards and regulations that govern medical malpractice may vary even between different jurisdictions within the same state. Medical malpractice liability refers to which individuals or organizations can be held liable or responsible for a patient’s injuries.
In general, this will be the party that breached their duty of care, and that was the actual cause of the injuries the patient suffered. It can be challenging to determine exactly which party was liable.
This is because medical malpractice liability cases often involve more than one party. Damages that are awarded in medical malpractice cases are similar to those awarded in other types of personal injury cases.
Economic damages are monetary amounts that may be measured and specifically calculated based on specific harm, such as:
- Medical expenses;
- Hospital bills;
- Lost wages or loss of earning capacity;
- Other out-of-pocket costs that are associated with the injury.
Non-economic damages cannot be easily calculated into a monetary amount because they involve intangible or immeasurable injuries, such as:
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress;
- Loss of enjoyment;
- Reputational damage.
The least likely type of damages to be awarded in a medical malpractice case is punitive damages. Not every state permits punitive damages to be awarded.
When punitive damages are awarded, they are intended to discourage the defendant and other parties from acting in a similar manner again. In states that do allow punitive damages, caps are typically placed on the amounts that can be awarded.
What Is the Texas Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases?
In Texas, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice is two years, similar to all negligence causes of action. In certain cases, the timing of the negligent act is easy to identify, such as the date of a surgery.
In these cases, the statute of limitations will begin running on that date. Texas laws also recognize that some negligence incidents may not be known to reasonably prudent patients, for example, if a foreign object is left inside a patient during a procedure.
In these types of cases, the statute of limitations will begin running when the patient discovers or reasonably should have discovered the injury.
Do I Need a Texas Lawyer?
You or someone you love may been injured by a medical professional. If so, it is important to consult with a Texas personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can advise you on the Texas laws and caps on medical malpractice damages.
Your attorney will help you file your lawsuit in the proper court and against the proper parties. Your attorney will also represent you in court to help ensure you receive the compensation you are due for your injuries.