When someone dies due to another person’s errors in judgment, the victim’s surviving family members can generally pursue a measure of justice through a wrongful death claim. Once an attorney takes their case, they don’t need anybody’s permission to move forward.
That’s not how things work, however, when medical malpractice is involved. To file either a personal injury claim or a wrongful death lawsuit over a medical mistake, you have to first get a “certificate of merit.”
What’s a certificate of merit?
Essentially, a certificate of merit is nothing more than a document that says you and your attorney have consulted with a physician and that physician is willing to go on record by stating that there’s a reasonable basis for your claim.
It’s purpose, in theory, is to weed out frivolous claims and folks looking for a “jackpot” over something that couldn’t be helped. In practice, it serves as a way to discourage many people who might have valid claims from even trying to pursue the compensation they are fairly due.
Does a certificate of merit mean you win your case?
Absolutely not. A certificate of merit is best viewed as a necessary step or a barrier that must be overcome before you can file a lawsuit — and nothing more.
While the doctor who consults on your claim may have a clear opinion about the case, you can bet that the defending insurance company will find a doctor of their own to counter the arguments you present.
When your loved one is killed by a doctor’s mistake or a hospital’s negligence, don’t hesitate to take action. A consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney should take place as quickly as possible to protect your interests.