Center for American Progress

VIDEO: Tort Reform Means Less Accountability for Medical Negligence in Texas Emergency Rooms
Press Release

VIDEO: Tort Reform Means Less Accountability for Medical Negligence in Texas Emergency Rooms

Washington, D.C. — Today, 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.”

“If you look back and you break down the arguments made by the insurance companies and medical industry about the cost, quality, [and] access of health care in Texas, by every metric we’re worse off today than we were 10 years ago,” Alex Winslow, executive director of Texas Watch, explained in the video. “It has made life better and easier for a small group of corporate interests at the expense of the rest of us.”

Click here to watch the video.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Chelsea Kiene at [email protected] or 202.478.5328.


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