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What Is an Affidavit of Merit in a Medical Malpractice Suit?

Written by Berkowitz

Connecticut's Medical Malpractice Attorneys - Berkowitz and Hanna LLCThe law has specific procedures that are required and medical malpractice claims are not free of these requirements. In some states, proof of the defendant’s negligence is required – and Connecticut cases must comply. Known as the Affidavit of Merit, this document is generated by another trained physician within a similar field and is used to establish that there is precedence for filing a medical malpractice claim against the physician named in the suit.

Where Did the Requirement Come From?

To reduce the financial burden of medical malpractice claims on the healthcare industry, several states in the country have created the affidavit of merit requirement. This specifically targets any potential frivolous lawsuits and prevents them from costing physicians, hospitals or private clinics thousands of dollars in settlements that are not justified. To require a patient shows negligence or has some degree of proof that malpractice occurred helps the state ensure the weaker claims will not be filed. In turn, it reduces healthcare costs overall because insurance companies will be free from paying or defending their clients against weak or frivolous cases.

What Is Required within the Affidavit?

The Affidavit of Merit is an official opinion from a qualified physician stating that the defendant’s work has been reviewed and that in the consulting physician’s opinion, the defendant acted negligently when treating the plaintiff.

Typically the physician will prepare a report that contains some of the following points in order to certify that the case has grounds for malpractice:

  1. Identifying all medical records relevant to the claim;
  2. Explaining the standard medical care that the defendant should have followed within this situation or what a reasonable physician would have done;
  3. Their opinion regarding how the defendant failed to follow this standard level of care;
  4. The opinion that the defendant’s failure to provide the standard level of care caused the plaintiff’s injury;
  5. Any reasoning or experience the physician has and is using to establish their claims.

Not just any physician can be consulted in these claims. Instead, the physician must have a current and valid medical license for the state, clinical experience (meaning they treat patients), and must be board certified or specialize within the field they are assessing. Therefore, a heart surgeon could not consult on a pediatric case unless it was a pediatric cardiac case.

What Happens if a Merit is Not Present or Rejected?

When a case is filed without the merit, the case will be rejected by the courts. If the Complaint is filed without a Merit, and that Merit is rejected by the judge, this could be the end of the case. There are times, however, a plaintiff can amend the Merit (such as for errors or omissions) or file an appeal with their claim.

Speak with a CT Attorney Regarding Your Potential Malpractice Claim

If you suspect that you are the victim of medical malpractice, do not wait to file your claim. The law is very clear as to how many steps must be taken in the state to file these types of cases. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no obligation case evaluation. Call us or contact us online to get started.