If you believe you have grounds to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must understand the necessary requirements under Tennessee law as failure to adhere to them could damage your case. Medical malpractice is one of the most complex types of personal injury lawsuits. It is always recommended that you find an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville to guide you through the process.
Let's take a closer look at those requirements that your medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville will assist you with.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
In order to file a lawsuit with the help of your medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville, you must be able to prove that a medical provider failed to provide the appropriate standard of care. Suppose another provider of a similar level of skill and experience would have made different choices that would not have resulted in an injury. In that case, this is a good indication that medical malpractice has occurred.
Tennessee's Medical Malpractice Requirements
In Tennessee, a couple of steps need to be taken before your medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville can file the lawsuit on your behalf.
- Pre-Suit Letters must be sent, notifying each provider that you intend to sue, that a lawsuit is forthcoming. These letters should include a release of your information as per HIPAA and a list of all medical professionals who will be sued. These letters must meet specific legal standards, which is why it is important to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville.
- It is also necessary to have a qualified doctor review the case and sign an affidavit confirming their belief that a medical malpractice case would likely be successful based on the available facts. This is known as either a certificate of good faith or an affidavit of merit.
Statute of Limitations
It is also important that you file your medical malpractice lawsuit within the statute of limitations. In Tennessee, the law states that a medical malpractice claim needs to be filed within one year of the injury being discovered, but not longer than three years from the date that the injury occurred. In some cases, the injury will be apparent immediately, but for others, such as a foreign body left inside a patient during surgery, it might not become evident until some time later when it begins to cause problems. Thus, the date of injury and the date of discovery can be different.
There is an exception for minors and persons considered 'of unsound mind.' In those situations, the statute of limitations is one year after the minor turns 18 years of age or from the date the individual is determined to be of sound mind.
Tennessee law places a cap on the damages that can be awarded in a medical malpractice case. This applies to non-economic damages, which covers things like pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life. There is no cap on economic damages, which includes compensation for both past and future medical costs and lost wages.
Tennessee's cap on non-economic damages stands at $750,000 for medical malpractice. There is an exception for catastrophic injuries when the damage increases to $1 million. Catastrophic Injuries are defined as:
- Spinal Cord Injury that leads to either Paraplegia or Quadriplegia
- Amputation of both hands, both feet, or one hand & one foot
- Third-degree burns that are over 40% of the body
- Wrongful death of a parent with dependant minors
In some cases, the damages cap does not apply, including:
- When the defendant showed Intent to inflict serious injury
- If the defendant has Intentionally falsified, destroyed, or concealed records or evidence
- Where the defendant was impaired by intoxicant or stimulant
These are just some of the requirements involved when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Tennessee. It can be tricky to navigate, and the last thing you want is a lawsuit to be dismissed because of a mistake. If you or someone that you love has been impacted by medical malpractice, it is essential to engage the services of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Knoxville.
Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice Law, Birth Injury Law, Trucking Accident Law, Personal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at www.bvblaw.com or call 865-637-3531.
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