Every civil lawsuit in New York requires a summons and complaint to be served upon the wrongdoer and these papers must be filed with the appropriate governmental entity. A plaintiff can choose to use a summons with notice instead, but let us place that aside for now. Once the paperwork is filed with the clerk, the lawsuit officially begins; it is “commenced”.
It is then up to the defendant to respond to the allegations. Time restrictions apply, as do other procedural rules. Specifically, medical malpractice claims are unique and special rules apply to them; for example, medical malpractice litigation rules require that the plaintiff also file a “certificate of merit” along with the documents mentioned above.
If readers are starting to get nervous about this stuff, please note that the attorney will draft the documents, review records, and consult experts to complete the above; the victim does not have to do anything but consult with the attorney.
The certificate of merit is simply required to see if the medical malpractice claim – the allegations against the supposed negligent medical professional – are valid, if they have “merit”. On one hand, this certificate can serve to eliminate frivolous claims; on the other hand, the recovery amount can be limited. Issues to be litigated can be narrowed as well.
An expert medical professional will most likely provide the content found within the certificate of merit. It is required that the expert is a part of the same medical field as is the doctor being sued. The expert must be familiar with the medical community in which the defendant doctor practices as well. Of course, since the expert is attesting that the medical malpractice case has merit, this expert doctor must have reviewed the plaintiff’s case and swear to such review. Lastly, the expert must clearly opine that the offending doctor committed acts, or failed to do something, that fell below the standard of care owed to the patient.
Readers should note that the expert used for the certificate of merit is just one of many experts that will assist the experienced medical malpractice attorney throughout the duration of the lawsuit. The expert used for said certificate might not be used again later during trial, or he or she might be testifying during trial.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.