WA State's Medical Malpractice Certificate Of Merit Requirement Found Unconstitutional

Since 2006, Washington State has required anyone filing a medical malpractice lawsuit to first obtain a Certificate of Merit – which is basically a statement from a medical expert saying that the lawsuit has merit. However, injured victims said that actually getting the certificate was nearly impossible and denied them access to the courts. The Washington State Supreme Court recently agreed and has ruled that the law is unconstitutional.

No more Certificates of Merit

In ruling that requiring Certificates of Merit before filing a Washington medical malpractice lawsuit was unconstitutional, Justice Susan Owens reasoned, "Obtaining the evidence necessary to obtain a certificate of merit may not be possible prior to discovery, when health care workers can be interviewed and procedural manuals reviewed....Requiring plaintiffs to submit evidence supporting their claims prior to the discovery process violates the plaintiffs' right of access to courts."

The process for filing a Washington med mal lawsuit will now be easier for those who have been injured by healthcare professionals such as doctors, physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, chiropractors, EMTs, psychologists and others. In fact, medical malpractice lawsuits can generally be filed against anyone whose position requires a license. But how do you judge whether that healthcare providers' actions were unreasonable?

Analyzing the “standard of care”

Legal experts say that determining whether a healthcare providers actions were below the standard of care is critical. To do so, you must ask whether the healthcare provider acted reasonably and with the same skill, care and learning that another healthcare provider would have exercised under similar circumstances. If that standard of care, or standard of practice, wasn't reasonable, then that person(s) may be liable for your damages.

Washington medical malpractice damages

Washington medical malpractice lawyers say that determining damages in a med mal lawsuit requires experts such as economists, vocational experts, medical experts, psychologists, psychiatrists and others. Many experienced attorneys will also use day in the life videos which show how the injured victim is dealing with their injuries at home and at work.

The damages available in medical malpractice lawsuits differ from state to state – as does the statute of limitations, or time limits, to file a lawsuit. An experienced medical malpractice attorney from your state will be able to advise you further and most provide free consultations.