Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse of Central Texas is part of a grassroots movement of small business people, community leaders, medical professionals and consumers concerned about lawsuit abuse and its negative impact on families and jobs.
We are dedicated to raising awareness about the cost and consequences of lawsuit abuse, challenging those who abuse our civil justice system, and returning common sense and fairness to our courts.
Click here to download our Legal Consumer Guide.
At times in your life when you and your family are most vulnerable – following an accident or the death of a loved one – Texas law protects you from unwanted and overly-aggressive advances from personal injury lawyers or their representatives.
Such aggressive tactics are labeled as barratry although they are more commonly referred to as “ambulance chasing.” And it is illegal.
Barratry, which is a felony offense in Texas, can take many forms:
- An unsolicited call or visit to your hospital room after an accident;
- An unsolicited visit at the funeral home following the accidental death of a loved one;
- A visit or call to family members of someone who has suffered an accident or lost a loved one; or
- The offer of cash to sign on with a particular personal injury lawyer or firm.
Texans who received unwanted advances from aggressive personal injury lawyers or their representatives should report the person involved to the State Bar of Texas.
Good Judges Matter
Judges make decisions every day that directly affect many aspects of our lives, including our economy, our schools, public safety, our healthcare and more. Yet for most of us, the judiciary is the least understood branch of government.
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) conducted a statewide public opinion survey of Texas voters and their views on judicial elections. Our survey showed that while a large majority of voters are interested in these elections, more than three out of 10 skip statewide and local judicial contests entirely or only vote in some of them. Seventy-four percent of these voters say they simply don’t know enough about the candidates for judicial office to make an informed decision.
Texas judges at all levels wield considerable power, and their decisions can set important legal precedents. Decisions from the Texas Supreme Court are final unless the case makes it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judges also determine the tenor of the courtroom and can ensure all parties are treated fairly under the law. The judiciary can also choose to uphold or overturn laws that were carefully crafted and passed by the state Legislature.
Good judges matter. Just as we make a point to get to know our children’s teachers or our own doctors, we should all make a point to learn about the judges elected to the bench in Texas.
CALA also urges voters to watch for large candidate donations by personal injury lawyers who may want to undo the significant civil justice reforms enacted in Texas.
Class-action lawsuits were designed to be a person’s best shot at justice by allowing individuals with similar grievances to band together to file a single claim. Class actions have had some positive results for consumers over the years. They have forced product recalls or stopped discriminatory behavior.
In general, however, class actions have become some of the most blatant examples of lawsuit abuse.
Some personal injury lawyers pursue claims hoping to score big legal fees for themselves. While the lawyers can pocket millions of dollars, the plaintiffs sometimes receive little in the way of a damage award (sometimes mere pennies). Many plaintiffs do not even know they are part of a class-action lawsuit.
Reforms passed in Texas have limited lawyers’ fees in class-action cases and prohibited giving coupons to plaintiffs as damage awards, unless that’s also how the lawyers are paid.
Even with these state regulations, changes are still needed at the federal level.
In the early 2000s, frivolous claims against doctors had driven up the cost of medical liability insurance and caused many insurance carriers to pull out of the Texas market. As a result, many doctors, particularly in high-risk specialties, shut down their practices or relocated to less lawsuit-friendly states.
Texas was facing a healthcare crisis.
In 2003, the Legislature passed and voters later ratified some of the nation’s most significant medical liability reforms. These reforms capped non-economic damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress and other hard-to-define items that may be collected through medical liability lawsuits.
Texans quickly began seeing positive changes to our healthcare system.
Today, thousands of new doctors are now practicing in Texas, including many in high-risk specialties such as obstetrics and neurology. New medical liability insurance companies writing policies in Texas mean more choices and lower rates for doctors.
This is good news for Texas patients.
Junk Science in the Courtroom
Jurors expect to hear the truth from the witness stand, especially when a witness is billed as an “expert” and has impressive-sounding credentials. Unfortunately, these factors don’t guarantee that witness testimony is credible or even particularly accurate. In the case of an expert witness, testimony may be skewed to favor whichever side has hired the individual.
This questionable practice – “junk science” – taints our entire civil justice system. Junk science props up frivolous and questionable health-care lawsuits that scare consumers, keeps beneficial medications off the market, drives up health-care costs, and limits medical research and innovation.
CALA supports legislative efforts to crack down on junk science.
Every citizen can do his or her part to bring fairness and balance to the civil justice system by serving on a jury when called. By interpreting the facts and returning an impartial verdict, jurors make sure our courts are being used for justice, not greed.
But, when called to serve, many of us evade our jury summons, even though not responding can carry legal penalties.
In Harris County, for instance, the juror response rate in 2018-2020 was about 20 percent.
Jurors themselves have said more citizens would participate if counties would provide parking reimbursement, better juror pay, childcare services and more education about jury services.
While steps can be taken to encourage jury participation or make it easier to serve, response rates won’t improve until each of us takes this responsibility seriously.
Consumers’ Legal Rights
At CALA, we know there are times when a lawyer is needed and a lawsuit justified. Our legal system should be used to help those with legitimate injuries or claims.
Being a smart legal consumer can be the best weapon against lawsuit abuse.
To help Texans who need to hire a lawyer, CALA has published a Legal Consumer Guide to help consumers understand their rights, ask the right questions and avoid some potential pitfalls when searching for legal representation.
Each citizen must take responsibility to protect his or her legal rights and stop the abuse of the legal system.
Every action we take in life carries with it some risk. The question is, when do we take personal responsibility for our actions, and their consequences, and when is it OK to blame others?
CALA advocates an end to the “blame game,” the practice by some to use lawsuits to solve a problem rather than taking personal responsibility for the consequences of their own actions.