Medical malpractice is probably a lot more common than people realize, whether it’s due to a missed diagnosis, a botched surgery or something less conspicuous. While a medical malpractice claim is technically a personal injury claim, medical malpractice cases have a unique level of complexity to them that can make them both expensive and difficult to pursue.
In an effort to “weed out” frivolous claims, Maryland – like many other states – requires medical malpractice plaintiffs to provide the court with some kind of proof that their case is valid. In Maryland, this is called a certificate of merit or a “supplemental certificate of a qualified expert.”
What is required from a certificate of merit?
In essence, a certificate of merit must contain a statement from a physician, under oath, that at a minimum, provides the following:
- Their qualifications, such as their experience and training in the same or a similar field of medicine as the defendant physician, to judge the veracity of the plaintiff’s claim
- That they have reviewed all available medical evidence surrounding the claim
- The standard of care that should have been upheld given the nature of the situation, and how that standard of care was violated by the physician
- An explanation of the victim’s injuries and how those injuries are directly connected to the physician’s actions (or inaction)
Many advocates for the victims of medical malpractice feel (rightly so) that this is an additional hurdle in the path toward some measure of justice. It can both intimidate and discourage victims and their families from filing a valid claim – and that only benefits bad doctors and their insurance companies.
Don’t let the complexities of a medical malpractice claim stop you from learning more about your legal options. Never assume that your case isn’t “serious enough” to deserve compensation until you’ve explored all the possibilities.