Every state has unique personal injury laws, usually with some advantages and some disadvantages for the injured party. In 2003, victims of medical malpractice, in Texas, also became victims of “tort reform.”
Damages and caps
Caps have become a big issue in Texas in recent years. In order to understand caps and how they work, you must first have a basic understanding of the types of damages which may be available to you.
Compensatory damages consist of economic and non-economic damages and are meant to compensate you for your losses. Economic damages are fairly straightforward. They include medical bills, lost wages, and other financial losses to which a specific dollar amount can be tied, even if it must be estimated. Non-economic damages compensate you for losses that have great personal value, but to which it is more difficult to attach an exact number. Non-economic damages can include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life. To most of us those things are often far more meaningful that actual financial losses and no amount of money can truly compensate.
In 2003, Texas implemented a complicated system of caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. These limits include a cap of $250,000 if an individual doctor or health care provider was responsible for your injury, or if several individuals were responsible. That cap is in total, not per defendant. It does not matter how many individuals are found responsible for your injury; you can receive no more than $250,000 in non-economic damages.
If an institution, such as a hospital, is responsible for your injury, it works a little differently. You can receive up to $250,000 per institution that caused your injury, but no more than a total of $500,000 in non-economic damages from all of the responsible institutions combined.
Punitive damages exist to punish the wrongdoer, not to compensate you. In Texas, punitive damages can be twice the economic damages plus the non-economic damages but no more than $750,000 or up to $200,000, whichever is greater.
If you were partly to blame you may still have a case
Texas uses the doctrine of modified comparative negligence, which allows you to receive compensation even if your own negligence contributed to your injury, as long as you were less than 50% responsible. You should not try to determine your percentage of blame on your own. If you think you may have a case, but feel that you were partly to blame, talk to your attorney.
The time limit for filing your lawsuit is called the statute of limitations. There is no flexibility on this deadline. If you do not take action in time, you give up your right to compensation. In most types of personal injury cases, in Texas, the statute of limitations is two years, but his does not apply to every type of case.
Joint and several liability
Sometimes, when you win a lawsuit you have trouble collecting the money. When there are multiple responsible parties it can be even more complicated. Texas uses a combination of joint and several liability in these cases. Defendants who are less than 50% to blame can only be held responsible for their share of the damages, but a defendant who is found more than 50% at fault can be held liable for the entire amount.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in Texas, you need the help of an experienced attorney who understands all of the nuances of Texas personal injury law. Please contact one of our Texas personal injury lawyers for a free claim evaluation.