Dedicated Vermont Medical Malpractice Attorneys Ready To Help You
First, a shocking statistic—medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the US, behind only heart disease and cancer. You might think that statistic does not apply in Vermont, with its world-class hospitals such as the University of Vermont Medical Center and the Central Vermont Medical Center. Vermont, however, sees its share of deaths caused by medical malpractice.
What Is a Medical Malpractice Claim?
A medical malpractice claim asserts that the defendant failed to meet the applicable standard of care in their treatment of you. You are also asserting that this error actually caused you enough harm to justify the amount of damages that you are asking for. Some examples of medical malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose an illness,
- Misdiagnosing an illness;
- Committing a surgical error;
- Prescribing the wrong medication, and
- Committing an anesthesia error.
The foregoing is only a small sampling. Hundreds or even thousands of medical errors are possible.
Vermont Medical Malpractice: The “Certificate of Merit” Barrier
Vermont requires you to submit a “certificate of merit” with your initial complaint (the document that formally initiates the lawsuit). A court can waive the certificate of merit requirement under certain circumstances. If it is required, however, and if you fail to submit it, the court will probably dismiss your complaint. Normally, the court will allow you another opportunity to submit with the certificate of merit attached.
The certificate of merit is a sworn statement affirming that you or your lawyer has consulted with a qualified medical expert who reviewed your evidence and (i) determined the applicable standard of care, (ii) believes there is a reasonable likelihood that the defendant failed to meet the standard of care, and (iii) has concluded that the defendant’s failure to meet the standard of care is what cause the harm you are complaining of.
The Use of Expert Witnesses
Nearly every medical malpractice lawsuit uses expert witnesses. Even if the case does not go to trial (and most cases don’t), both sides will probably use expert witnesses to establish the persuasive power of their position. Expert witnesses are used to:
- Establish the standard of care that the healthcare provider should have exercised under the particular circumstances of the case; and
- Determine whether the provider met this standard.
In some cases, both sides will call expert witnesses.
The Professional Expert Witness
In all likelihood, your expert witness will be a “professional expert witness” whom you must pay to provide testimony. You can be sure that the defendant will bring this fact to the court’s attention to discredit your witness. Because the use of professional expert witnesses is so common, however, it is unlikely that your witness’s professional status will hurt your case.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is the Statute of Limitations Deadline for Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Vermont?
The general deadline is three years from the date that the malpractice occurred. If the victim, for good reason, did not discover the malpractice until later, they have two years after the date of discovery. An example where a court might consider late discovery reasonable would be if a surgeon left a scalpel inside a patient’s body after an operation. But even if discovery is delayed, the victim may not file a lawsuit more than seven years after the date that the malpractice occurred.
I Plan to Settle My Claim Out of Court. Do I Still Need to Worry About the Statute of Limitations?
Yes. To settle your claim outside of court, you are going to need leverage. In other words, the defendant must have a motivation to settle with you. If you allow the statute of limitations deadline for filing a lawsuit to pass, you will not be able to sue the defendant.
Once you can no longer sue the defendant, they will risk nothing by refusing to settle with you. Fear not, however—the seasoned Vermont medical malpractice attorneys at E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy can handle settlement negotiations from start to finish, and we never let the statute of limitations deadline pass.
How Likely Is It That My Claim Will Be Settled Out of Court?
Our Vermont medical malpractice lawyers settle the vast majority of our clients’ claims before trial. Doctors don’t like public trials even if they win, because it draws attention to the fact that one of their patients is questioning their professional competence.
Consult with an Experienced Vermont Medical Malpractice Attorney Today
At E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, our attorneys have accumulated decades of combined experience representing victims of medical malpractice. Because of this, we will charge you nothing unless we win your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Vermont medical malpractice lawyer. Just fill out our online contact form or call one of our offices in Albany, Colonie, Schenectady, Saratoga, or Troy.