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.
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.