While any personal injury can make for complex civil litigation, claims alleging negligence by a healthcare practitioner tend to be especially challenging on both procedural and personal levels. There are several unique rules applicable to these types of cases that can make the initial filing process difficult to get through alone. After which, proving liability for all past and future losses generally requires extensive documentary and testimonial evidence.
Put simply, proceeding with this type of claim without support from a Red Bank medical malpractice lawyer will almost always end with an unsatisfactory case result. However, with a skilled personal injury attorney on your side, you could effectively enforce your legal rights without having to worry about any procedural or legal errors blocking you from the recovery you deserve.
In order to prevent “frivolous” lawsuits that might make it hard for healthcare professionals to perform their jobs effectively, Tennessee state law requires people wishing to file suit over alleged malpractice to meet several preliminary requirements that do not apply to other personal injury claims. Most notably, prospective plaintiffs must submit an “affidavit of merit” alongside their initial complaint, or within 90 days of filing said complaint.
This affidavit must affirm that the plaintiff—along with their Red Bank medical malpractice attorney—consulted with at least one qualified medical expert about their case, who subsequently indicated through a written and signed statement either that the plaintiff’s case has legal merit or that available evidence is not sufficient to determine whether the case has merit. Failure to abide by this requirement allows a court to dismiss the lawsuit “with prejudice,” which would prohibit the plaintiff from ever refiling that case even if they came back with the required affidavit.
In this context, a qualified medical expert is one who is licensed to practice medicine either in Tennessee or a bordering state and is knowledgeable in the specific area of medicine that the defendant(s) allegedly violated the applicable standard of care for. If no such qualified expert is available despite good-faith efforts to find one, there are circumstances under which a court may waive this requirement.
Like other personal injury claims, medical negligence lawsuits in Tennessee are subject to a cap on total recovery for non-economic forms of harm—specifically, $750,000 for most cases, and $1,000,000 for cases involving certain “catastrophic” injuries. However, these caps do not apply in situations where a defendant intentionally inflicted serious injury, engaged in fraud in order to hide what they did, and/or was substance-impaired when they caused the plaintiff harm.
Medical negligence claims in Red Bank are also somewhat unique in terms of applicable filing deadlines, as a knowledgeable lawyer could further explain. All claims must be filed within one year of the date the plaintiff first discovered their injuries, and generally within three years of when the injury actually occurred. There are exceptions to the latter rule in certain situations, though, most notably when injury occurs due to a surgery leaving a foreign object inside a patient’s body.
Even if it seems obvious that a healthcare provider’s misconduct was the direct cause of avoidable injury, proving so in court can be an immensely complex endeavor. Assistance from a proactive legal representative can be essential throughout every stage of a claim, especially when obtaining important evidence and seeking input from medical experts.
A Red Bank medical malpractice lawyer could discuss your legal options in greater detail over the course of a private initial consultation. Schedule yours by calling today.