Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Increase Nationwide During Pandemic
The pandemic has created all kinds of problems for the legal system, not the least of which is medical malpractice torts. States hit hard by the pandemic like New York and New Jersey moved early to shield doctors and hospitals from medical malpractice lawsuits related to COVID-19.
Yet the language of these laws leaves much open to interpretation. As an example, the New York law offers immunity to all facilities that are “impacted by COVID-19”. This could include nursing homes where run-off patients were placed after acute treatment in a hospital. It could also include hospitals that are affected by COVID-19 but with cases that have no relation to COVID-19. As an example, if a hospital doesn’t have enough staff to keep up with COVID cases and you die of a heart attack while awaiting treatment, the hospital might still have immunity since COVID is affecting its operations.
Here in Texas, things operate a bit differently. Texas was not among the states that were hit hard early, and there has been broadscale discomfort over mandatory shutdowns. For that reason, our state has not placed any immunity protections on hospital workers during the pandemic.
A 5% Nationwide Increase, But Only a 2.5% Increase in Texas
Nationally, we have seen a 5% increase in the number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed. However, Texas, where there is no immunity, has only seen a 2.5% increase. While COVID lawsuits have indeed spiked, the spikes appear unrelated to medical malpractice lawsuits, at least here in Texas. Instead, we’re seeing more lawsuits filed by employees against their employers due to failure to protect employees from infection. Texas is unique insofar as it permits companies to not bother purchasing workers’ compensation insurance. However, the companies that don’t can be sued for negligence by employees as they waive their employer immunity. Other states don’t give employers the choice.
Why is Texas Lower Than Elsewhere?
Civil law is mostly governed at the state level. Each state is allowed to place restrictions on certain types of lawsuits. Almost all states have some system in place to protect doctors and hospitals from non-meritorious lawsuits. Texas has some of the most stringent. It stands to reason then, that fewer medical malpractice lawsuits would be filed here than elsewhere, COVID or no.
That being said, the majority of medical malpractice lawsuits being filed against providers nationwide are against nursing homes and not primary care physicians, emergency room personnel, or other health care workers.
COVID Nursing Home Negligence Lawsuits in Texas
There is no law prohibiting those injured in the context of a nursing home from filing a lawsuit against the nursing home in Texas regardless of whether or not COVID is responsible or not. Texas health care workers have no immunity over COVID cases. This could change, however, if federal legislators get their way. All employers and companies could be afforded immunity from simple negligence lawsuits.
Talk to a Houston Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured due to the negligent care given by a health care worker, you are entitled to sue to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, and reduced quality of life. Call the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers, P.L.L.C. today to schedule a free consultation and discuss the matter in more detail.