Expert Reports (Medicolegal Issues) (Law Overview)

Expert Reports (Medicolegal Issues) (Law Overview)

In 1996, article 4590i of the Texas Revised Civil Statutes Annotated, the statutory provision that governs health care liability claims in Texas, was amended to require claimants to file expert reports within 180 days as part of the prosecution of their claims. Sufficient expert reports include explanations of the standard of care, the deviation from that standard, and how the deviation caused the claimant’s damages. Two provisions allow courts to grant a 30-day extension for filing expert reports. A good cause extension can be used to extend the filing deadline to 210 days; however, case law has not clearly defined what constitutes good cause. An accident or mistake grace period can be used to justify reports filed 210 days after the suit has been filed; judges determine whether the failure is due to a mistake or intentional indifference. As with any statute, the language is not as important as how the courts (judges) interpret that language. The statute may appear strict but room for interpretation exists. Article 4590i of the Texas Revised Civil Statutes Annotated first made reference to the necessity for a claimant to file an expert report in 1994. The article was amended to require the claimant to either file a cost bond in the amount of $2000 or have counsel file an affidavit attesting that a written report was obtained from a qualified individual, indicating that the acts or omissions of the defendant(s) were negligent and were a proximate cause of the injuries or damages claimed. The deadline for the bond or affidavit was 90 days after the suit was filed (1). Interestingly, the defendant could not discover the identity of this expert, or the specific opinion expressed, unless that individual was designated as the claimant’s expert in the case (2). This scheme was open to abuse and did nothing to assure defendants of the credibility of the claims being filed and pursued.

Expert Reports (Medicolegal Issues) (Law Overview)

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