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The Medical Malpractice Dilemma in Texas

I have been a personal injury attorney for about 30 years now and can say unqualifiedly that Texas has a real medical malpractice dilemma.

Every day we receive telephone calls from people looking for an attorney to handle medical malpractice claim. To be fair, the majority of the calls do not seem to rise to what would be medical neglect and support a medical malpractice case. Bad results do not necessarily mean that malpractice was involved. We do not handle Medical Malpractice cases and cannot even name an attorney who does take medical malpractice cases in Texas.

Unfortunately, when Texas placed caps on medical malpractice damages, they threw out the baby with the bathwater.

Today victims of medical malpractice cannot find an attorney to handle their case. While many in the public find this statement hard to believe, call around to a Texas personal injury attorney and ask them if they will handle medical malpractice case.

Victims of medical malpractice cannot believe that they cannot find an attorney to help them in Texas. However, the steep legal hurdles placed on a medical malpractice case in Texas (which is a huge upfront out of pocket expense), coupled with caps on damages make the 99% of medical malpractice claims not viable from an attorney’s perspective.

I’ve long been an advocate of changing the medical malpractice system in Texas to give complete immunity to doctors practicing in Texas.

Why would I advocate for immunity for Texas doctors? The answer is simple and that is they have immunity now for 99% of all medical malpractice claims anyway.

If a victim in Texas cannot find an attorney to handle a claim, that is a real claim, then doctors have effectively gotten immunity anyway because a non-lawyer is unlikely to be able to handle such claim him or herself.

By giving complete immunity, the doctors would save on their malpractice insurance, which is arguably unnecessary anyway in Texas, and then the scapegoat lawyers will no longer be blamed for rising medical costs. In effect, the rising medical costs would have to be placed exactly where they belong, on the persons or entities charging the fee.

When Texas passed “tort reform ” several years ago Texas families were promised reduced medical bills and easier access to doctors. Both promises have proven patently false. Not only did the cost of medical care not go down, it continued to escalate. Texas families did not gain anything from tort reform except the inability to actually bring a medical malpractice case in Texas.

When scrutiny is applied to the claims of those advocating tort reform, the claims do not hold water. Tort reform claims are mainly made by those with connections to the insurance industry. While tort reform may have been good for insurance companies, lobbyists and political campaign contributions in Texas, it did nothing for Texas families except for take away important rights.

So if your family member has been a victim of a medical malpractice claim and you cannot find an attorney to help you, call up the political leaders that promised that this would be good for Texas and tell them you want real reform – reform that works for Texas families and not just insurance companies.