Texas tort reform has mad cow disease! Stop the insanity!

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Stop the insanity! The state of Texas has been on a mission to eliminate or seriously reduce the ability to bring claims for damages in this state for about 25 years. It has not gotten to the point where a runaway cow that belonged to a retired doctor may be a health care liability claim. Seriously.

The 2003 Tort Reform legislation has led to slip and fall cases in hospitals being turned into health care liability claims. I'm not sure what a leaking roof, or leaving oil on the floor, or having worn out flipped over mats has to do with going to medical school, but if you happen to be in a hospital and fall and fracture your back over the facility's disrepair, you will have to deal with with the interpretation of the Texas Supreme Court of what is or is not a health care liability claim. In my own practice, I had a case where an administrator's conduct in an assisted living facility, that had absolutely nothing to do with the day to day operations of the facility, or of treating any of the residents, caused injury to an employee. Guess what....it was determined this was a health care liability claim.

The significance of a "health care liability claim" is not clear to most non-lawyers and even a lot of lawyers. The cases have significant limits on damages, very technical requirements on obtaining experts and expert reports, and the trial courts can toss the cases if they feel like the injured person takes any missteps along the way. The cases are extremely expensive for the attorney for the attorney representing the claimant, which makes it difficult for the victim of a health care liability claim to pursue the claim in court.

So to get to today's topic, a wayward cow, its political affiliation undetermined, took off down the highway and caused a horrific accident and over $700,000.00 in medical bills. It is unclear if the cow was impaired or if the cow was on a mission to impact Texas law. The cow in question was owned by a retired Texas physician. Thanks to the interpretation of the Texas Supreme Court of the 2003 tort reform legislation, cases that are not directly related to health care can fall under health care liability claims and require expert reports detailing how the health care involved was substandard. Maybe there is some argument here that the retired physician was negligent in counseling his wayward livestock, but it much more likely that the fences enclosing the cow were in disrepair and this had absolutely nothing to do with the doctor's medical education and experience.

Stop the insanity!