There are many elements to filing a medical malpractice claim. One of the most important is filing an affidavit of merit. Without it, your claim could face dismissal. In order to secure an affidavit, you need to know what it is and why it needs to be filed.
What Is the Affidavit of Merit?
In an effort to curb the number of frivolous lawsuits that were being filed, many states turned to tort reform. The laws were designed to accomplish a number of feats including frivolous lawsuits and outrageous monetary awards from juries. An affidavit of merit is a result of the reform.
The affidavit is basically a document that states that your medical malpractice claim has merit. It has to be signed by a medical expert who practices in the same field as the medical care provider accused of committing malpractice. The expert has to state that he or she has thoroughly reviewed your case and feels that malpractice did occur in his or her opinion.
Depending on the state in which you live, you might be able to use your attorney as the expert who certifies your case. Your attorney will advise you of whether or not this is possible. If your state requires an affidavit be filed, your claim could be dismissed if you fail to provide the document to the court within a certain time period. Your attorney can provide you with the time limit for your state.
Can the Expert Play Dual Roles?
A medical expert is required to help present your case to the judge and jury. If your state requires you use a medical professional, you have the option of using the trial medical expert to sign your affidavit. Whether or not you do is up to you and your attorney.
It is important to note that the expert who signs the affidavit might be reluctant to testify in court against a colleague in court. However, he or she might be willing to sign the affidavit to show that your case does deserve to be legally reviewed. There is also the possibility that the expert signing the affidavit would not be the best witness on the stand. He or she might not have the ability to convey to a jury in an effective manner how the malpractice occurred. For this reason, a different expert might be needed.
Medical malpractice cases tend to be complex and have many components. To ensure that your claim is solid before you file, work with an attorney like one from R.J. Marzella & Associates, P.C.
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