The Legal Process of Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim: A Step-by-Step Guide

medical malpractice claims

Every doctor is held to a professional standard of care. If a physician falls below that standard and patients are harmed, malpractice has occurred. At the discovery stage of a legal proceeding, lawyers share documents. Often, this includes depositions. Depositions are formal proceedings in which a witness is questioned under oath and recorded for use at trial.

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Consultation with an Attorney

When medical malpractice claims are filed, they must do so within the statute of limitations. Visit this website to know and understand the deadlines associated with your case’s jurisdiction and find lawyers who will put in a lot of effort to ensure your lawsuit or claim is submitted on time. Medical malpractice must be proven by showing that the healthcare provider’s duty of care was broken. This duty of care is a set of standards the medical community recognizes as acceptable medical treatment for patients in similar circumstances.

Depending on the jurisdiction, you may be required to submit a certificate or affidavit from an expert medical professional who will testify that your injuries were caused by malpractice and that the accused healthcare worker was negligent in their actions. This step is called a “certificate of merit.”


Once the investigation is complete, your attorney will file a complaint in a federal court. These courts are the national equivalent of state trial courts. The statute of limitations is when malpractice claims must be filed. It varies from one state to another and can be as long as two or more years. A medical malpractice lawsuit involves a physician, nurse, therapist, or other health care professional whose actions deviate from the accepted standards of practice and cause injury to the patient. The injured party must prove that the defendant’s actions or inaction caused the damages they suffered. It includes the injury or death itself and also any resulting negative impact on the victim’s quality of life.

Certificate of Merit

Malpractice may be justified when a physician commits an error that causes a patient harm, such as exacerbating an already-existing medical condition or driving a new one. There needs to be a preponderance of evidence that the physician’s actions fell below the medical standard of care. It requires expert testimony. It means that other doctors will testify whether the physician’s actions align with their field’s accepted medical standards.

Depending on the jurisdiction, a lawyer must also file a certificate of merit. It is an affidavit that the attorney has consulted with experts and believes there are reasonable grounds for believing malpractice occurred. This requirement varies across jurisdictions and states. There may also be specific deadlines for sending notice of the claim to the negligent medical professional.


In the United States, medical malpractice lawsuits are handled by state trial courts or federal district courts. The same rules apply to both types of litigation, though federal court legal procedures are slightly different. Plaintiffs in a malpractice lawsuit must demonstrate that the physician disregarded their duty of care. All doctors owe patients a standard of care that requires them to act reasonably under similar circumstances. In a malpractice lawsuit, plaintiffs may be awarded monetary and non-monetary damages. Non-economic damages are for suffering and agony, whereas monetary damages are for medical expenses and lost income. A defendant can also be held liable for negligence committed by one of its employees under a legal doctrine called vicarious liability. For example, hospitals, clinics, and care facilities may be liable for their staff members’ actions under the vicarious liability doctrine.

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Lawsuits alleging medical malpractice appear with some regularity in the United States. The lawsuits are usually filed in state trial courts, depending on legal rules and regulations associated with venue and jurisdiction. Establishing that the medical professional’s unreasonable action or inaction violated their duty of care and caused your injuries is the first step in filing a malpractice claim. Your lawyer can enlist the help of a medical expert to prepare an affidavit in compliance with the state regulations, which require a physician review that supports your claims.

Your attorney must also prove actual and proximate causation, meaning the negligence directly caused your damages. It is an element that can be difficult to ascertain and requires substantial expert testimony. The jury will determine whether the doctor violated their duty of care after your attorney presents evidence supporting your case during the trial.

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