You’ve probably heard about medical malpractice cases before—but if you haven’t filed one before, you might not be familiar with the “affidavit of merit” requirement. Ohio Revised Code Section 2323.451 requires plaintiffs to file such affidavits for each defendant named in the complaint. While your medical malpractice attorney will walk you through this requirement—and likely handle the bulk of the work themselves—it never hurts to understand what it is and why it’s required.
What is an Affidavit of Merit?
Filing a medical malpractice suit is basically alleging that a medical error was made—whether the healthcare practitioner was aware of it at the time, took unnecessary risks or made a mistake. While accidents happen, medical practitioners are held to a higher standard of care than many other professionals.
However, there’s still a balance that needs to be kept. For example, you might have had an unsuccessful surgery—but that doesn’t mean that your surgeon was negligent. There are many reasons why a medical procedure may not be successful, or why a practitioner may have missed a diagnosis. As long as they met the appropriate standard of care, they won’t be held responsible for a malpractice allegation.
To help differentiate between strong claims and issues where patients are simply unhappy with their results, Ohio requires plaintiffs to file an affidavit of merit. This is essentially a statement from a licensed medical professional declaring a few key facts:
- They have reviewed the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim,
- They understand the appropriate standards of care,
- They are of the opinion that the standard of care was not met in this case, and
- They believed that the breach in care caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
If you fail to attach an affidavit of merit to your initial filings, your claim may be dismissed. However, most courts will allow you to refile with your affidavit at a later date.
Don’t Forget the Statute of Limitations
Ohio places a one year statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims, with limited exceptions. One major exception is that if you send a letter to the potential defendants, informing them that you are considering filing a lawsuit against them, you get an additional 180 days to file your suit.
Ultimately, your attorney will help you through the statute of limitations and affidavit of merit requirements—so be sure to call one as soon as you suspect you have a case.
Call an Ohio Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
Let’s work together to get your medical malpractice case going. When you’ve been injured as a result of a healthcare practitioner’s negligence, I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office at 877.614.9524 today for a consultation.