Personal Injury 101: Affidavit of Merit

We’re kicking off the new year with a new series called, Personal Injury 101.

That’s right, we’re taking you, the reader, to school.

It’s meant to be a weekly look at some of the most common terms and phrases in the misunderstood world of personal injury law.

Our very first topic is about something that can play a key role in medical malpractice cases, affidavit of merit.

What is the Affidavit of Merit?

In short, an affidavit of merit is a document that you must file in many states if you plan on going forward with a medical malpractice lawsuit.  Most, but not all states require this.

The affidavit usually needs to be a sworn statement (a notary or other authorized official must certify the document) from an attorney or expert medical witness, swearing that a malpractice claim meets certain requirements.  These threshold requirements vary from state to state, but for the most part, an affidavit of merit must say:

  • the person signing the affidavit is an expert in the same medical field in which the healthcare provider defendant practices
  • your case has been reviewed by said expert
  • and the expert’s opinion is that this particular case has merit (the defendant’s conduct fell short of the appropriate medical standard of care)

In the state of Nevada, should a plaintiff fail to file an affidavit of merit for claims based on medical or dental malpractice, the case can be dismissed.  In 2013, the Nevada Supreme Court overruled a previous decision, clarifying that the affidavit of merit requirement does not apply to claims for “professional negligence.”

That’s lesson one in Personal Injury 101.  As you can see, things can get extremely complicated so it’s always best to consult with a qualified attorney about your case.

We here at Pickard Parry Pfau can let you know what your legal options are, and answer any questions you may have.  In the meantime, use your newfound knowledge to score some major points in a game of Scrabble or impress your friends.