Video: The Inhumanity of Texas Tort Reform

Legal Progress—the legal policy program at the Center for American Progress—released a new video on the damaging effects of Texas’ tort reform legislation, which makes it virtually impossible for victims of emergency room negligence to hold hospitals accountable for medical malpractice. Texas’ tort reform, established by a 2003 constitutional amendment that passed by a razor-thin margin, allowed the state legislature to place an arbitrary $250,000 cap on the damages juries could award to injured plaintiffs. It also required plaintiffs injured in emergency rooms to prove that a defendant showed “willful and wanton negligence” while administering care. In other words, plaintiffs must prove that doctors and nurses intentionally injured them—a near-impossible standard for lawyers and their clients to meet.
“Texas’ tort reform has essentially established a lower standard of care for emergency rooms. Injured patients with permanent disabilities cannot find lawyers who will take their cases,” said Billy Corriher, Director of Research for Legal Progress. “As a result, the crushing costs of negligent medical errors has been shifted from insurance companies and hospitals to victims of negligence and unaware taxpayers.”

This video lays bare the complete absurdity of capping non-economic [pain and suffering] damages at $750,000 and punitive damages at $500,000 in Tennessee pursuant to the TN GOP’s power grab (and terribly misnamed) “Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011.”

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