In 2014, a mother lost her baby due to a traumatic birth injury caused by the doctor’s improper use of forceps during the baby’s delivery. The forceps caused a brain injury that became fatal. The parents of the infant sued the hospital and the doctor who performed the delivery for medical malpractice and won.
Despite being awarded $10.3 million, the parents were still outraged by the verdict because they will only receive $250,000 from the three claims they filed. This means, that though a jury found the doctor and the hospital at fault, their daughter’s life was only worth $750,000 to the state of Texas, which puts a cap on all damages awarded to the victims and the families injured or killed due to medical malpractice.
Why are Damage Caps Placed on Medical Malpractice Cases?
In 2003, Texas lawmakers signed off on the law that places a cap on damages awarded to victims of medical malpractice due to the increase in what politicians call “junk lawsuits” that contributed to the rising costs of insurance. The passing of this law means no matter how much money a victim is awarded by a jury for their injuries caused by medical error, the victim will see no more than $250,000 per claim for their non-economic damages. So, while all costs for medical treatments and lost wages will be covered, this damage cap limits what can be covered for what is called “quality-of-life” damages.
For example, if a man becomes paralyzed from the neck down due to medical malpractice, he will likely receive compensation for all past and future medical bills, lost wages and future lost wages. However, he can only receive $250,000 to compensate for the emotional damages and life changing effects of becoming paralyzed due to negligence. This also places a cap on the families of victims who have died due to fatal medical errors.
While the law was successful in ending lawsuit abuse, it was arguably too successful. The damage cap law makes it very difficult for victims who are actually suffering due to a medical error to file a lawsuit and receive compensation that could ultimately help them.
The Law Office of Aaron Allison is a personal injury law firm that helps those injured due to medical malpractice in Austin, Texas.