How does employment status factor into a Texas medical malpractice case?

When it comes to medical malpractice cases, Texas law is extra-unfriendly to plaintiffs who are unemployed or retired.

Under current Texas tort reform laws, non-economic damages are capped. Non-economic damages are often the most significant damages to a plaintiff and include things like mental anguish, physical impairment, pain and suffering, and the loss of a relationship or consortium.

The amount of the non-economic damages depends on who is sued. If only physicians or other human-being healthcare providers are named as defendants in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the total non-economic damages cap is $250,000. If one hospital is sued, there is a separate cap of $250,000. If two or more hospitals are sued, the cap goes up to $500,000. To sum it up, the non-economic damages cap can be between $250,000 and $750,000, depending on who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Contrast this with a plaintiff whose medical malpractice injuries prevent her from returning to work. Whether the plaintiff earned $50,000 or $500,000 a year, there’s no economic damages cap that applies to the entire projected future loss of earning capacity.

Bear in mind that there's a separate inflation-adjusted cap that applies to all wrongful death damages. It's currently around $2 million.

The sad truth is that Texas law creates an incentive for employed patients to receive better care than unemployed patients. It’s no surprise to me that Texas nursing homes consistently rank at the bottom of all states in terms of quality of care. The word is out. Healthcare providers realize that Texas law provides limited consequences for substandard care to the unemployed, retired, or elderly.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.