Until recently, prior to filing a lawsuit against a medical provider who committed medical malpractice, a claim first had to be presented to the Medical Dental Screening Panel (“the Panel”). The Panel consists of doctors, attorneys and hospital administrators. After submission of written materials by the claimant and the respondent, the Panel would determine whether or not a reasonable probability of medical malpractice existed. The conclusions of the Panel are not binding. That is to say, a lawsuit may be filed regardless of the findings of the Panel, but with certain potentially adverse consequences. Occasionally, tthe Panel can sometimes help the parties resolve disputed claims without the necessity of going to trial.
This requirement has now changed, and a party has the right to file a lawsuit in District Court without having to appear before the Panel. In most cases, this is very advantageous, as it helps reduce the costs of litigation and aids in getting the case to trial in the shortest time possible.
In cases involving wrongful death, a representative or heir is appointed to act on behalf of the deceased’s estate. Once the appointment has been made, suit can be filed in District Court on behalf of the loved ones who have been left behind.
If you think you may have a claim for medical malpractice, or for wrongful death on behalf of a loved one, you should consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights in greater detail.