In 2003, Texas lawmakers capped the maximum medical malpractice payout to patients at $250,000; they also ruled that any patient bringing a malpractice suit against a physician had to find another doctor with the same area of specialty as the defendant to testify against him or her before a trial could be allowed.
If victims failed to produce expert reports within 120 days of filing their cases, they would have to pay the doctor or hospital’s legal fees. Nine years later, patients believe that these rules have dangerously curbed victims’ rights.
The Story of Connie Spears
One woman in particular has experience with these reforms and the way the rules are keeping mistreated patients from finding justice—Connie Spears. Spears is a Texas resident who lost both of her legs because of a misdiagnosis at a Christus Santa Rosa emergency room, and was unable to pursue justice.
As she told the New York Times, she arrived at the ER with leg pain, telling doctors she had a history of blood clots. In spite of this fact, she was sent home without being screened for a clot, only to return several days later in agonizing pain and critical condition. Her legs were then forced to be amputated.
As if what happened to her wasn’t bad enough, Spears said she had a hard time getting help for her injuries because of the Texas laws—several lawyers felt her case didn’t meet the state requirements to show cause.
She said the reforms made it hard for her to find an attorney to represent her case and also forced her to pay thousands of dollars’ worth of the defendant’s medical bills, because she could not produce expert testimony within the allotted time frame. Now, her attorneys plan to appeal the constitutionality of these Texas reforms.
Defending the Victims of Medical Malpractice
This decision places unfair restrictions on those irreparably damaged by incompetent medical professionals. Connie Spears entered a hospital seeking help and was instead turned neglected, leading to the permanent loss of both of her legs. Her rights to a suit were denied, and even if carried out, would only receive up to $250,000 – an amount far below what could be considered proportionate to her physical and emotional hardships.
At Arnold & Itkin, our Texas-based medical malpractice attorneys believe that victims should have the opportunity to receive justice; they should not be forced to jump through hoops just to earn the right to bring suit.
If you were injured in a Texas medical malpractice suit, we can help. Contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation with one of our team members.