How to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Tennessee
Tennessee has specific laws that can have an impact on filing a medical malpractice claim. The laws mandate how claims can be brought to court, expert testimonies, and how damages are paid to the plaintiff. In addition, the statute of limitations law outlines the window of time in which a plaintiff may file a medical malpractice claim.
Read on to learn more about the parameters involving the filing of a medical malpractice claim in Tennessee.
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How Long do I Have to File a Med-Mal Claim?
In Tennessee, the statute of limitations on medical malpractice states that a claim must be filed within one year of the date the injury was discovered. However, a claim cannot be filed more than three years after the injury occurred.
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What Are the Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?
If the following are involved in your medical malpractice claim, you may have more time to file:
- A foreign object was left inside the patient’s body during a medical procedure.
- For minors and persons of “unsound mind,” the statute of limitations starts one year after the minor’s 18th birthday, or the date the person becomes of sound mind again.
Filing a medical malpractice claim under an exception can be a complicated process. It’s critical to seek the advice of an experienced attorney to help you learn your rights.
Are There Caps on Medical Malpractice Damages?
In most states, including Tennessee, there are caps on non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life due to the injury. In Tennessee, non-economic damages are capped at $750,000. However, if the injury is “catastrophic,” damages are capped at $1 million. Catastrophic injuries under personal injury law include the following:
- Spinal cord injuries that result in paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Amputation of hands or feet
- Third-degree burns that cover 40% or more of the body or face
The wrongful death of a parent of minor children is classified as a catastrophic injury in Tennessee. All other types of catastrophic injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury due to a defective medical device or dangerous prescription drugs, may also be considered. If you believe you’ve suffered a TBI due to medical malpractice, contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC to learn your options.
The exception to the medical malpractice cap is as follows:
- The defendant had a specific intent to harm and inflict severe physical injuries.
- The defendant falsified, destroyed, or concealed records that contained evidence of medical malpractice with the intent to avoid liability.
- The defendant was impaired by being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and as a result, the patient was injured or died.
Read on to learn more about compensation for economic damages in a medical malpractice claim.
What Types of Economic Damages Are Considered in Medical Malpractice Claims?
A plaintiff seeking compensation for economic damages in a medical malpractice claim may be entitled to recover the following:
- Medical expenses.
- Lost wages.
- Loss of earning capacity.
- Rehabilitation expenses (physical therapy, occupational therapies, etc.).
- Household services (laundry services, cleaning services, home maintenance services, etc.).
- Home medical care.
What Are the Expert Witness Testimony Requirements in Tennessee?
Tennessee also has specific requirements for expert medical witness testimonies in medical malpractice trials when filing an affidavit of merit. Also known as a “Certificate of Good Faith,” an affidavit of merit states that within 90 days of filing a medical liability claim, an injured person or the injured person’s lawyer must file a statement explaining that one or more experts were consulted about the case.
The purpose of an affidavit of merit is to deter frivolous suits, and the expert agrees that the claim has merit. If the Certificate of Good Faith is not filed within 90 days of the medical liability claim, the court may dismiss the case “with prejudice” and prevent the injured plaintiff from filing the suit again. For this reason, it’s critical to retain a medical malpractice lawyer that understands the importance of all filing deadlines.
Who Is Considered an Expert Witness?
The courts consider a competent expert witness as a licensed professional that practices their profession or specialty in Tennessee or a contiguous bordering state. Their expert testimony is relevant to the conditions of the case. The professional should also have been practicing their profession or specialty in one of those states during the year preceding the date that the plaintiff’s alleged injury occurred.
Who Can Be Held Liable in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Medical professionals must provide a standard of care as outlined by the Code of Medical Ethics under the American Medical Association. Medical care providers that may be held responsible in a medical malpractice case may include but is not limited to the following:
- Nursing homes
- Community medical centers
- Physician’s assistants
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Learn Your Rights in a Medical Malpractice Claim
If a medical professional harmed you or a loved one, you have the right to seek justice. Having the proper representation when pursuing a claim can help ease your worries and stresses. Our team of medical malpractice lawyers has extensive experience to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
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