Frivolous Lawsuits

by Michael Heygood

We have just finished another legislative session here in Texas and, as usual, one of the topics debated was how to reign in “frivolous medical malpractice” claims.  As a lawyer who has been on both sides of this litigation for many years (representing doctors and hospitals who have been sued in medical malpractice lawsuits and also representing families of people hurt or killed by the medical mistakes of doctors and nurses), I can state unequivocally that there is no such thing as a “medical malpractice crisis” in Texas.  It is a figment of the imagination of the insurance lobby.

The Texas legislature has long since virtually eliminated lawsuits against doctors and hospitals in Texas.   The limitations that are currently in place on medical malpractice lawsuits make it almost impossible for a person who is the victim of medical negligence to find a lawyer who is willing to represent them- certainly any lawyer who could competently handle such a claim.  And now the Texas legislature wants to go even further.  For what?  There are hardly any medical malpractice lawsuits being filed in Texas anymore.   What is the end game of the Texas legislature –financially ruining anyone who has the audacity to expect doctors to properly read an x-ray; to expect hospitals to only give privileges to qualified doctors; or to expect that pharmacies fill a prescription with the actual drug that was prescribed?

In our society today it has become trendy to blame lawyers and their “frivolous lawsuits” for every problem that comes up.   Health care costs too much – it is the lawyers’ faults.   Crisis on Wall Street – blame the lawyers.  I suppose somehow someway the wars in the Middle East were also caused by a frivolous lawsuit somewhere.

I respectfully suggest that if we, as a society, spent more time accepting responsibility when we did something wrong and less time trying to blame the victims, the amount of lawsuits in the United States would drop substantially more than any tort reform will drop them.

There is no frivolous lawsuit crisis in America.  Anyone who says otherwise is either uninformed or intentionally trying to promote a personal agenda.