If you were injured because a doctor was negligent and you want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you have some hurdles to get over. Maryland requires you to file something called a certificate of merit accompanied by an expert report to show you have a valid claim before you can move forward with a lawsuit.
Below, our Silver Spring medical malpractice lawyers discuss these documents in detail. This is one reason why medical malpractice lawsuits are complicated and why it is important to have a qualified legal team on your side to walk you through the whole process. Our team at Goldberg Finnegan has a proven track record of getting our clients the compensation they deserve.
What Does a Certificate of Merit Cover?
A Certificate of merit is an important document for a medical malpractice case. This document, also referred to as a certificate of qualified expert, is a document signed by a medical expert and accompanied by a report from the same expert. The expert must work in the same field as the at-fault health care provider named in the case. The expert must say the claim you are making has merit, which means he or she thinks the doctor who injured you did not follow accepted medical standards.
The certificate and report must include this information:
- Statement that expert has a valid medical license
- A statement that the expert does not devote more than 20 percent of his or her time to activities related to testifying in personal injury cases annually
- Description of the expert’s experience, including medical specialty
- Board certifications and specializations
- A list of the medical records reviewed by the expert
- An explanation of the standard of care
- The ways the standard of care was violated by the at-fault health care provider
- A description of the injuries the victim suffered
- Explanation linking the victim’s injury to the health care provider’s negligence
Who Can the Expert be?
According to Maryland code Section 3-2A-04, the expert who signs the affidavit of merit can be anyone except:
- A party in the case
- Someone who works for a party
- Partner of a party
- Employee or stockholder in a corporation where the party holds stock
The person signing the affidavit of merit must practice in the same field of medicine as the doctor or other health care provider who injured you. For instance, you could not have an oncologist create a certificate and report if your claim is against an orthopedic surgeon. The expert you choose should be very familiar with standards of care in the medical field relevant to your claim.
Purpose of Certificates of Merit
The goals of requiring you to create a certificate of merit include:
- Reducing the overall number of lawsuits that are filed
- Reducing the overall amount of money that is involved in settling claims that might be questionable
- Limiting the amounts and types of liability insurance that professionals are required to carry
- Limiting the amounts and types of decisions by doctors that are made due to fear of being sued
Call an Experienced Attorney for More Information
If you want compensation for medical malpractice damages, speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn how he or she may assist you and fight for your best interests.
Our team at Goldberg Finnegan offers free case evaluations and provides services on a contingency fee basis, which means that there are no upfront legal fees. We only get paid if we are successful getting you the compensation you deserve.