Does Texas place a cap on medical malpractice damages?

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Question:

Does Texas place a cap on medical malpractice damages?

Answer:

Yes. Like the majority of U.S. states, Texas has passed a law that limits or “caps” the amount of compensation a plaintiff can receive in a medical malpractice case. The controversial effect of laws like this is that, even after a plaintiff proves that the defendant committed malpractice -- and a jury makes the same finding -- the statute limits the actual amount of damages the plaintiff can be awarded.

Also like most states, Texas’s caps apply only to non-economic damages. Here are the highlights of the law (you can find the full text at Texas Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code section 74.301):

  • There is a per-claimant $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases against a physician or health care provider.
  • For medical malpractice cases against a single health care institution, there is a per-claimant $250,000 cap on non-economic damages.
  • For cases against multiple health care institutions, there is an overall cap of $500,000 per-claimant for non-economic damages, and no single institution can be on the hook for more than $250,000 in non-economics, per-claimant.

So, what are these all-important “non-economic damages”? In any injury case, non-economic damages include compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Non-economic damages are said to be more “subjective” from plaintiff to plaintiff, and they’re not so easy to capture with a dollar amount.

Remember that Texas does not cap economic damages, which typically consist of payment for past and future medical care, reimbursement of lost income, compensation for lost earning capacity, and other financial losses that can be attributed to the malpractice on which the lawsuit is based.

Learn more: Medical Malpractice Q&A.

by: , J.D.

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