What is an Affidavit of Merit in a Medical Malpractice Case?

How are affidavits in medical malpractice cases handled in Missourri?

If you are considering a medical malpractice claim, one term that you may have noticed during your research is that of the “affidavit of merit.” This is required in the state of Missouri, as well as numerous states in the country. In medical malpractice claims, these are used by the plaintiff to show the court that the initial complaint has merit. The certificate is not just any document, and it cannot be completed by just anyone. Instead, it is completed by a medical expert.

The Certificate of Merit

In the state of Missouri, your certificate of merit is completed by a medical expert. This Affidavit will have the expert’s opinion, and must state that it is the expert’s  opinion that the defendant breached the standard of care of medical provider in the same or similar circumstance, and that the breach of the standard of care caused the plaintiff to be injured. The purpose of this requirement is to help eliminate claims that lack merit, and the requirements for the  certificate of merit are governed by Missouri Statute Section 538.225.1.

The statute provides that any action against a healthcare provider for damages in a medical malpractice or wrongful death suit must file an affidavit with the court stating that a  legally qualified healthcare provider has reviewed the case and has provided a written opinion that the defendant failed to provide care that a reasonably prudent health care would provide to the plaintiff in the same or similar circumstances. That statement must also say that the opinion of the medical expert is that, in the same situation, he or she would have provided different care and, therefore, the defendant should be held liable for the injuries caused by his or her negligence.

A legally qualified healthcare provider is any licensed physician in the state of Missouri (or other state, when applicable) who is in the same profession and/or specialty as the defendant. Therefore, a pediatric specialist could not submit an affidavit against a heart specialist. The affidavit has several requirements in order to meet the statutory requirements. These requirements include:

  1. The name, address, and qualifications of the healthcare provider must be in the affidavit.
  2. A separate affidavit is required for each defendant named in the action.
  3. The affidavit must be filed no later than 90 days after filing the medical malpractice claim.
  4. The plaintiff will have his or her case dismissed, should there be failure to file the affidavit in time.
  5. Within 180 days after filing the medical malpractice claim, the defendant has the right to file a motion to have the court examine the opinion of the healthcare provider.

Seek Assistance for Your Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical malpractice claims in St. Louis are extremely complicated. If you have been injured, and you feel that it was at the fault of your healthcare provider, you need to speak with a St. Louis medical malpractice attorney first to assess your case. The team at Carey, Danis & Lowe Attorneys at Law can assist you with your claim. We understand how difficult it is to be injured by a medical professional who you trusted, and we work hard to hold him or her accountable for any negligent actions. Get started with a free consultation by calling 877-678-3400 or filling out our online contact form with your legal questions.