Court upholds limit on lawyers' medical contacts

Court upholds limit on lawyers' medical contacts
Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 6:23pm

AUSTIN — A federal appeals court has upheld a Texas law barring medical professionals from contacting accident victims within 30 days of an accident.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday overturned a ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin that struck down the law as an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

Lawmakers approved the law in the 2009 session, aiming to protect accident victims from unethical solicitations by so-called "ambulance chasers." The law prohibited telephone and in-person solicitation of victims within a month of an accident.

In its ruling, the New Orleans-based appeals court said that protecting accident victims' privacy is a legitimate state interest backed by a long line of Supreme Court precedents. It also ruled that soliciting victims immediately produces stress and "real harm."

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