(The following article was written by Nelson Tyrone for American RSDHope.org. It is presented in 3 parts. See below for Part 2 of 3)
1. Requirements For Medical Testimony Before The Lawsuit Is Filed:
Many states have special requirements for filing professional negligence (including medical negligence) lawsuits that are not required for Plaintiffs filing other types of injury suits. In Georgia, for example, a Plaintiff must, at the time of filing a medical negligence suit, attach a sworn Affidavit from a physician in the same field of medicine affirming that the physician has reviewed the Plaintiff’s case and can offer the opinion that the doctor or nurse at issue violated the standard of care for medical professionals generally. Arizona has an “affidavit of merit” law. North Carolina does not require an Affidavit, but requires that the Plaintiff affirm in the lawsuit that a medical professional in the same profession has reviewed the Plaintiff’s claim and has determined it is meritorious. Many other states have similar requirements.
I have had doctors tell me, candidly, that they would not offer an Affidavit against a doctor practicing in the same community regardless of the circumstances. Most lawyers would probably agree this is the general rule: that the “code of silence” within the medical community does indeed exist. However, in cases where the doctor’s negligence was significant, I have also had doctors provide an Affidavit against a doctor from the same state.
In general, your lawyer may need to reach outside the immediate community – or even outside the state – in order to obtain a pre-suit Affidavit in order to bring a medical negligence lawsuit on your behalf.
2. The Need For The Medical Testimony Of An Expert During Litigation To Support That The Defendant Doctor Violated The Standard Of Care.
All medical negligence cases (regardless of whether your state requires a pre-suit Affidavit) require that the Plaintiff put forth expert medical testimony during litigation that the doctor (or nurse) violated the standard of care. Like the pre-suit requirement, most lawyers would agree that this expert will likely come from outside the community where the Defendant doctor practices.
Again, this is a job for your lawyer, not for you. Even if you had the time and the inclination to attempt to research experts in the requisite field of medicine and contact their offices, they would probably not speak with you. The top expert in any given field who are willing to be involved in litigation will often only get involved in litigation if they are comfortable with the reputation and the experience of the lawyer on the case. What this means is that no matter how hurt you are and no matter how poor a job your doctor did in caring for you, the best medical experts will not return your call. My best advice is this: find a top – notch lawyer and they will find a top – notch expert for your case.
Nelson Tyrone is the principal of the Tyrone Law Firm in Atlanta, Georgia. He has obtained record verdicts and settlements in Georgia on behalf of clients suffering from RSD in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. He is currently representing clients who suffer from RSD in lawsuits in Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi and is consulted by lawyers from across the United States on RSD cases.
(Continued – see next Friday, March 22nd, for Part 3 of 3)