Did you recently receive medical care that you believe was incompetent or even harmful? Do you plan on filing a malpractice suit against the doctor, hospital, or medical device manufacturer? If so, you'll need to follow your state's established processes for filing a suit. One document you may need is an affidavit of merit, which is required in many states for a medical malpractice case to move forward. An affidavit of merit is exactly what it sounds like, a document that verifies the merit of your claims.

What is an affidavit of merit?

An affidavit of merit is a legal document that is signed by a medical expert, such as a doctor. The signor should be an expert in the same field in which the lawsuit is related. The signor will review your claims and the care that you say you received. If he or she believes that the case has merit, then they will usually sign the affidavit and your case will move forward. If they do not believe your case has merit, they may refuse to sign, in which case you will need to find another signor.

A signature doesn't mean that they think you should win or that they endorse your claims. It simply means that they believe there is enough evidence or suspicion for the case to move forward. In many cases, a doctor will agree to sign an affidavit, but will not participate as a witness or be involved in the case in any further capacity.

Why do you need an affidavit?

Affidavits of merit have been implemented for a number of reasons. The primary reason is usually to cut down on frivolous lawsuits. When a doctor signs an affidavit, it tells the court that this lawsuit has at least some substance and warrants a hearing. An affidavit also tells the defendant that the case is serious and it is moving forward. It may encourage them to take the case seriously and consider settlement options.

When should the affidavit be submitted?

In most states, it has to be submitted along with the lawsuit paperwork. In some other states, the lawsuit can be filed and then the affidavit can be obtained within some predefined time period after the filing. If the affidavit isn't obtained, then the lawsuit may be dismissed.

For more information, contact a medical malpractice attorney, like those at Otorowski Johnston Morrow & Golden P.L.L.C. They can advise you on whether you need an affidavit to move forward. If so, they can help you find a medical expert to act as a signor.