Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Massachusetts

With relatively few exceptions, medical malpractice cases in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts follow a pattern that is common to many other states.  The rules and standards adopted by Massachusetts are generally straightforward and evenhanded vis a vis the nation as a whole, per most legal analysts’ opinions. However, as with all states, applying the state-specific jurisdiction and relevant laws and the case-specifics of your medical malpractice claim most likely will benefit from the help of legal counsel.

What to Consider from the Beginning of a Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Claim

A person sustaining any form of damages or other harms as the result of medical malpractice in the Massachusetts Commonwealth should consider the following in conjunction with legal counsel from the outset of your case-specific instance of malpractice, including:

  • A claim in Massachusetts must be filed within three years of the malpractice event or discovery of the injury that was caused by the malpractice
  • Massachusetts has adopted a relatively long seven-year statute of repose that bars malpractice claims, with a few limited exceptions
  • The Commonwealth caps noneconomic damages at $500,000, but has no other caps, and significantly greater jury awards in Massachusetts are not uncommon
  • Massachusetts is a modified comparative negligence state, and no recovery will be available if a party is more than fifty per cent responsible for his injuries
  • An injured party’s attorney is required to submit an offer of proof to a pre-trial tribunal in order for a medical malpractice case in Massachusetts to go forward

Important Deadlines Relevant in Filing per Massachusetts Statutes of Limitations

Massachusetts has adopted a longer three-year deadline to file medical malpractice claims, and an even longer seven-year statute of repose as an absolute bar for initiating those claims. An exception to this seven-year deadline is recognized if the malpractice claim stems from a foreign object left inside of a person’s body.

Damages Information Pertinent toward All Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Torts

An injured party in Massachusetts cannot recover more than $500,000 for noneconomic “pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice tort cases. This cap, however, can be exceeded in special or egregious cases involving disfigurement or other extreme situations pending the determination of the courts in Massachusetts. A party’s actual damages will also be reduced and can be entirely eliminated if he is partially responsible for his injuries or exacerbating the proximate cause of damages in a medical malpractice case. Consulting with an attorney immediately upon discovery of suspected medical negligence to ensure proper future medical malpractice case preservation and planning is essential here and in other instances.

Verification of Claims Post-Suit Filing Requirements in Massachusetts Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

One of the more unique aspects of medical malpractice cases in Massachusetts is the requirement for an injured party to submit an Offer of Proof to a special three-member tribunal after a case is filed. The tribunal will include a judge, a physician who specializes in the medical field in question, and an attorney. The tribunal is charged with determining if sufficient evidence exists to allow the case to proceed to trial. If the tribunal determines that there is insufficient evidence for a trial, an injured party can continue the lawsuit upon filing a $6,000 cash bond. This bond requirement creates a hard stake for the injured party, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts believing that no party will press a medical malpractice case in view of this stake unless he or she strongly believes that the case has merit.

The navigation of medical malpractice claims through the rules and statutes that have been adopted in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is best done by an attorney who is familiar with those rules. A party who believes that he or she has suffered an injury as a result of medical malpractice should consult with Massachusetts counsel at the earliest possible date.

The text of the Massachusetts medical malpractice tribunal law is traditionally hosted by the Commonwealth at:

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleII/Chapter231/Section60B

The text of the Massachusetts statute of limitations is found at:

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleV/Chapter260/Section4

A more detailed treatment of the Massachusetts malpractice tribunal can be viewed at:

http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/may10/managing6.asp

 

 

 

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