Medical malpractice cases are time-consuming and costly regardless of the side you represent. Also, many medical procedures are delicate, and anything could go wrong even without any liability to the physician.
As an attempt to limit the malpractice cases to credible ones and reduce the financial burden on such a vital industry, states have different requirements. One of these requirements is a Certificate of Merit, often referred to as Offer of Proof or Affidavit of Merit.
A certificate of merit in a medical malpractice case is usually a report to prove the alleged malpractice. Different states will have other specifications on what should be in that report, but all of them should show the legitimacy of your case.
What to Know About a Certificate of Merit?
One of the main components of a certificate of merit is a statement from a qualified physician that shows the accused was negligent in the treatments administered. Although applied differently in different states, that requirement is almost always necessary before the case begins.
Components of the Report
It is important to note that every state has its way of dealing with these cases. For example, New York will have its own set of rules and guidelines, which only an excellent personal injury lawyer from New York can help you decipher. Check out some of the possible requirements of the qualified physician’s report below.
- Identify all the medical records they viewed
- Explain what the doctor in question should have done according to applicable medical standards
- State their opinion on whether the defendant was negligent
- State their opinion on whether the injury or damage on the plaintiff was a result of the negligence
Requirements for the Physician Preparing the Certificate of Merit
Just like the report, all states do not read from the same rule book. However, these are some of the standard requirements for doctors writing a certificate of merit report.
- An up-to-date medical license ( Some could add that the license is from the state where the case is filed.)
- Clinical experience and active practice at the time of the lawsuit
- Specialization in the area of medicine the case is about
All the above requirements ensure that the report is authentic to base a case on without malice. Some states may not be strict on some of these requirements, but others go the whole way to ensure justice prevails.
When to Present the Report
The purpose of a certificate of merit is to prove that a case is worth the time and money invested by both parties. Therefore, the certificate of merit is presented before the victim files their lawsuit. That gives room for the dismissal of weak claims even before they can make it to court.
Even though most medical professionals have professional liability insurance, thousands of dollars would be wasted if every injury sustained in a hospital was blamed on the physician. When a certificate of merit is accepted, the case can proceed.
In some states, the case ends there, but you can appeal, while in others, the case can continue as long as the plaintiff posts bond for the defendant’s costs during the case. The best way to ensure your case is solid is to consult with a good attorney.