An affidavit of merit is a requirement in some jurisdictions, primarily in medical malpractice claims, to have an expert file an affidavit stating the claim has merit. It is a measure enacted to deter frivolous lawsuits. When a plaintiff in a medical liability lawsuit does not file an affidavit of merit with the complaint, the case may be dismissed. Below is a detailed explanation of Affidavit of Merit for State of Texas
Affidavits of merit, sometimes referred to as a certificate of merit, in the most general of terms, are affidavits signed by an expert in the field, attesting to the merit or merits of a claim. Depending on the state, affidavits of merit may be required in medical malpractice claims, legal malpractice claims, and other claims involving some sort of professional negligence. This may include cases against architects, accountants, engineers, land surveyors, real estate agents, as well as design professionals.
Affidavits of merit are a product of tort reform efforts. It is believed that requiring a party to file an affidavit of merit, either contemporaneous to or shortly after filing a lawsuit, accomplishes several goals, including:
- Reducing the number of suits being filed
- Reducing the amount of money put towards settling claims of questionable value
- Limiting the types and amounts of liability insurance professionals must carry
- Limiting the number and types of decisions made not out of professional judgment but rather fear of a potential lawsuit
Because, by and large, affidavits of merit require a professional in the field to opine under oath about a failure to meet a minimum standard of care, it is believed frivolous claims will be reduced, if not eliminated. Affidavits of merit also necessarily limit the extent of claims made to that which can reasonably be proven based on the facts and circumstances of a given case.