David Yates Feb. 11, 2015, 8:09am


In 2003, Texas passed tort reform measures capping the amount of damages medical-malpractice plaintiffs could receive and requiring them to submit an expert report when filing their claim.

And now, 12 years later, a state representative is attempting to push through legislations that would “clarify” the definition of “claimant” under Texas’ Medical Liability Act, so non-med-mal plaintiffs, such as slip and fall claimants, aren’t stuck under the law’s umbrella when suing medical providers.

On Jan. 27 state Rep. Chris Turner, a Democrat representing District 101, introduced House Bill 956, seeking to make sure only patients who bring med-mal claims have their damages capped.

“Under current law, if a person is assaulted or injured in a healthcare setting and seeks legal relief, they are subject to the liability limits and other provisions laid out in the Texas Medical Liability Act,” said Turner in a statement.

“I am confident that this was not the intent of the law and something must be done to address it this session. By making the definition apply solely to patients, we’ll ensure that a case filed by nurse who is sexually assaulted on the job or an electrician hit by a falling beam isn’t treated as medical malpractice.”

Turner’s bill stems from a June 29, 2012, Texas Supreme Court decision, Texas West Oaks Hospital et al v. Frederick Williams.

The plaintiff in the case, Frederick Williams, was a caregiver employed by Texas West Oaks who sued the hospital after receiving an on-the-job injury injured while supervising a patient, court records show.

The high court opined that an on-the-job injury claim brought by a hospital worker was required to have expert report like those required in a traditional medical malpractice case.

As a result of the court’s decision, when a suable offense occurs in a health care environment, whether it be sexual assault, racial discrimination, or slip and fall, those cases are now considered a health care liability claim under the act.

Ultimately, the bill aims to ensure only patients who sue for medical malpractice are governed by the act.

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