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Caps on medical malpractice awards in Texas

Medical mistakes are the third most common cause of death in Texas and around the country. Some medical malpractice victims who survive require around-the-clock medical care for life, which is why the damages awarded in these cases are often high. Many states, including Texas, have passed laws that limit the amount of compensation that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases, but these laws sometimes only apply to non-economic damages.

A medical malpractice case highlighting these issues was recently decided in Maryland. A jury awarded the mother of a 4-year-old girl who suffered birth injuries $229.6 million in damages. The damages were high because the girl will never be able to walk, needs constant care and receives her nourishment through a feeding tube. The mother successfully argued that her daughter's injuries could have been avoided if the hospital involved had urged her to undergo a caesarian section.

Maryland law limits damages in medical malpractice cases to $200 million, and legal analysts say the damages are likely to be reduced even further when the hospital appeals. In Texas, malpractice awards are capped at $250,000 in cases against a single hospital or doctor and $500,000 in cases involving multiple defendants. However, these limits only apply to non-economic damages such as emotional distress and pain and suffering.

A Texas personal injury attorney with medical malpractice experience could explain that damages awarded to cover lost income and the costs of ongoing medical care are not subject to a state cap. Before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, an attorney may consult with doctors and financial professionals to ensure that the damages they seek will be sufficient. Doctors could explain the type of treatment that a medical malpractice victim will require, and financial professionals could determine how much the cost of providing this treatment will increase over time.

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