You trusted and respected your doctor — but they failed you. You ended up with considerable damage from their mistake, and your life will never really be the same. It wasn’t an easy decision, but you feel like you have no choice but to pursue a medical malpractice claim.
Now, you need an affidavit from a health care provider to get started.
What does this mean?
Most personal injury claims can be pursued at will. Medical malpractice claims, however, are different.
Missouri Revised Statutes section 538.225 says that no medical malpractice claim can be pursued until an affidavit is filed with the court with the written opinion of a legally qualified health care provider that states the veracity of the claim.
To be legally qualified, the health care provider must be licensed to practice medicine (in this state or any other) in the same profession as the defendant provider. They must also either have an active medical practice or be within five years of their retirement from an active practice that is “substantially the same” as the defendant’s area of practice.
The affidavit must state:
- That the reviewing provider believes the defendant provider did not exercise the sort of reasonable care that would be expected of them given the circumstances
- That the defendant provider’s failure to exercise that reasonable care either caused or directly contributed to the victim’s injuries and damages
In other words, you basically have to find at least one physician who is willing to go on record — in writing — and say that you were victimized by your doctor’s negligence. This doesn’t win your case (by any means). It merely gets your foot through the courtroom door.
This rule exists, in theory, to keep frivolous claims from driving up malpractice insurance costs and driving doctors out of the state. However, many people say that the rule just forces malpractice victims to jump through extra hoops so that insurance companies don’t have to pay out as much.
Every medical malpractice case is complicated by this rule — but no case is impossible. If you believe that you’ve been harmed by medical malpractice, find out more about what it takes to make a successful claim.