A Certificate of Merit in a Medical Malpractice Injury Claim
Are you a victim of medical malpractice? If you experience pain and suffering following an operation or other medical treatment, you may consider filing a lawsuit seeking damages. To file a lawsuit, you must also file a certificate of merit with the assistance of an attorney at a personal injury law firm.
Because of their many years of training and education, medical professionals are expected to maintain a high standard of ethics. When an individual claims personal injury due to negligence, the lawsuit also requires a higher standard. A certificate of merit, also known as an affidavit of merit, confirms that your malpractice claim has a basis for a lawsuit.
Many states, including Colorado, require a certificate of merit in support of a medical malpractice claim. With so many unsubstantiated malpractice claims, the certificate of merit ensures that only legitimate medical malpractice claims are filed in a court of law.
Just as all medical malpractice cases vary, so do their accompanying certificates of merit. However, the common denominator with these affidavits is that the medical expert who signs off on the certificate states for the record that a person or persons from the medical team involved in the treatment or operation demonstrated negligence.
The certificate of merit is vital for your lawsuit. This documentation is not something you handle on your own, though. It is something you can leave in the capable hands of one of our personal injury attorneys.
When you work with the team at Bell & Pollock P.C., one of our experienced attorneys will first review the facts of your situation. Then, we will consult with a medical expert to determine whether you have any legal recourse. If the medical expert confirms that medical malpractice is indeed the cause of your injuries, you can then file a certificate of merit and proceed with filing a lawsuit.
Certificates of Merit and Tort Reform
Physicians and other medical professionals face enormous liability insurance costs with every patient they treat. Many times, medical professionals make patient care decisions to prevent the threat of a lawsuit. In an increasingly litigious world, if there were no standards like a certificate of merit in place, the number of malpractice cases would likely skyrocket.
Certificates of merit are part of tort reform, which helps reduce the number of baseless lawsuits. A tort is an unlawful act or a denial of a right that results in liability for a particular individual or entity.
Tort reform is a controversial topic in the field of law. It seeks to address the staggering number of medical malpractice injury claims, as well as the amount of money that defendants are required to pay out to settle these cases.
The certificate of merit requirement has opponents who feel that it denies plaintiffs the opportunity for due process. To mitigate opposition against the certificate of merit requirements, some states require all lawsuits based on negligence, medical or otherwise, to file a certificate of merit.
However, certificates of merit are beneficial in that they verify plaintiffs’ claims and confirm that there is indeed a basis for their malpractice lawsuit. If you are considering a medical malpractice lawsuit in Colorado, you need to know the requirements that surround obtaining a certificate of merit.
What Does a Certificate of Merit Include?
While the certificate of merit requirements vary in each state, you can expect three things when filing one in the state of Colorado:
- The medical expert who signs off on the affidavit must be in the same field of practice as the defendant in this potential malpractice case. For example, if you are filing a lawsuit seeking damages for a root canal gone wrong, you must get a dentist to sign off on your certificate of merit, not a podiatrist.
- The medical expert must thoroughly review the details of the case to make an informed decision about whether malpractice is involved.
- Based on that thorough review of your malpractice complaint, the medical expert will conclude whether your situation is viable as a lawsuit. If the expert agrees to sign off on your claim, it means that they confirm the treatment or procedure you received was below the acceptable standard of patient care in that particular field.
Should your lawsuit go to trial, you and your attorney may ask the same expert who approved your certificate of merit to testify in a court of law. However, your attorney may choose or be required to use a second expert instead. It might be a good idea to have two separate medical experts on your team when you file a malpractice lawsuit in the following situations:
- If the medical expert is in the same geographical region or professional network as the defendant, the expert may be reluctant to testify against a colleague, even if they are willing to sign your certificate of merit.
- The medical expert you have chosen to sign your certificate of merit might not be, for whatever reason, the right choice as a witness in a court of law. When selecting your medical expert for that role, you need someone highly competent and perhaps experienced in providing expert testimony in front of a jury. Don’t worry about this part—your personal injury lawyer will help you make this decision.
You must act quickly in filing your certificate of merit, as you only have up to 45 days after you file the claim to get a certificate of merit. If you plan to sue more than one person on the medical team, you must prepare a certificate of merit for each person. Should you miss the deadline, you may be designated with a failure to file a certificate of merit.
Don’t delay seeking justice for your potential medical malpractice lawsuit. If you endure pain and suffering as the result of negligence, Bell & Pollock P.C. is here for you. We can help you file your certificate of merit and be there in court with you when your suit goes to trial.
Call us today at (720) 613-6736 to learn more about how our personal injury law firm can help you get the justice you deserve.