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What is the affidavit of merit requirement?

New Jersey statute requires plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to provide defendants with an affidavit of merit within 60 days of the defendant’s response to the lawsuit. If the plaintiff is suing more than one provider, the plaintiff must furnish an affidavit to each provider.

What is an affidavit of merit?

Affidavit of merit

An affidavit of merit is a statement under oath from a licensed medical expert that there is a reasonable probability that the defendant failed to exercise an acceptable level of skill or knowledge when providing the treatment that resulted in the lawsuit. The purpose of the statement is to justify the merit of the plaintiff’s case against the defendant and prevent frivolous lawsuits.

How the affidavit works

The plaintiff can request a 60-day extension to provide the affidavit if the judge decides there is good cause for it. Rarely, in cases where expert knowledge is not necessary to determine the appropriate standard of care, the court does not require the plaintiff to provide an affidavit of merit. If the plaintiff does not provide the affidavit by the deadline, the judge may dismiss the case with prejudice. If the plaintiff provides the affidavit but it does not satisfy all of the court’s requirements, the judge may dismiss the case without prejudice, which allows the plaintiff to correct the issues and pursue the lawsuit again.

The affidavit of merit is an important procedural element of a medical malpractice case in New Jersey. Without it, the plaintiff can not proceed with a lawsuit in most cases.