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What is the Certificate of Good Faith Requirement with Regard to Medical Malpractice Claims in Connecticut?
Before a plaintiff can file a medical malpractice action, Connecticut General Statutes Section 52-190a requires the plaintiff to make "a reasonable inquiry as permitted by the circumstances to determine that there are grounds for a good faith belief that there has been negligence in the care or treatment of the claimant."
If the plaintiff determines good faith exists and files suit, the complaint must "contain a certificate, on a form prescribed by the rules of the superior court, of the attorney or party filing the action that such reasonable inquiry gave rise to a good faith belief that grounds exist for an action against each named defendant."
The precomplaint inquiry and good faith certificate requirements for a medical malpractice action were enacted as part of tort reform legislation in 1986. "[T]he general purpose of Section 52-190a is to discourage the filing of baseless lawsuits against health care providers." "The purpose of the certificate is to evidence a plaintiff's good faith derived from a precomplaint inquiry. It serves as an assurance to a defendant that a plaintiff has in fact made a reasonable precomplaint inquiry giving him a good faith belief in the defendant's negligence."
Good faith may be shown to exist if the plaintiff has received a written opinion that there appears to be evidence of medical negligence. The opinion will have to be attached to the complaint but the identity of the expert giving the opinion need not be disclosed.
Here is the complete text of Connecticut General Statute Section 52-190a, which requires an expert's opinion letter and an attorney's good faith certificate as part of the process in filing a medical malpractice claim in Connecticut:
"Sec. 52-190a. Prior reasonable inquiry and certificate of good faith required in negligence action against a health care provider. Ninety-day extension of statute of limitations.
(a) No civil action or apportionment complaint shall be filed to recover damages resulting from personal injury or wrongful death occurring on or after October 1, 1987, whether in tort or in contract, in which it is alleged that such injury or death resulted from the negligence of a health care provider, unless the attorney or party filing the action or apportionment complaint has made a reasonable inquiry as permitted by the circumstances to determine that there are grounds for a good faith belief that there has been negligence in the care or treatment of the claimant. The complaint, initial pleading or apportionment complaint shall contain a certificate of the attorney or party filing the action or apportionment complaint that such reasonable inquiry gave rise to a good faith belief that grounds exist for an action against each named defendant or for an apportionment complaint against each named apportionment defendant. To show the existence of such good faith, the claimant or the claimant's attorney, and any apportionment complainant or the apportionment complainant's attorney, shall obtain a written and signed opinion of a similar health care provider, as defined in section 52-184c, which similar health care provider shall be selected pursuant to the provisions of said section, that there appears to be evidence of medical negligence and includes a detailed basis for the formation of such opinion. Such written opinion shall not be subject to discovery by any party except for questioning the validity of the certificate. The claimant or the claimant's attorney, and any apportionment complainant or apportionment complainant's attorney, shall retain the original written opinion and shall attach a copy of such written opinion, with the name and signature of the similar health care provider expunged, to such certificate. The similar health care provider who provides such written opinion shall not, without a showing of malice, be personally liable for any damages to the defendant health care provider by reason of having provided such written opinion. In addition to such written opinion, the court may consider other factors with regard to the existence of good faith. If the court determines, after the completion of discovery, that such certificate was not made in good faith and that no justiciable issue was presented against a health care provider that fully cooperated in providing informal discovery, the court upon motion or upon its own initiative shall impose upon the person who signed such certificate or a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction which may include an order to pay to the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion or other paper, including a reasonable attorney's fee. The court may also submit the matter to the appropriate authority for disciplinary review of the attorney if the claimant's attorney or the apportionment complainant's attorney submitted the certificate.
(b) Upon petition to the clerk of the court where the civil action will be filed to recover damages resulting from personal injury or wrongful death, an automatic ninety-day extension of the statute of limitations shall be granted to allow the reasonable inquiry required by subsection (a) of this section. This period shall be in addition to other tolling periods.
(c) The failure to obtain and file the written opinion required by subsection (a) of this section shall be grounds for the dismissal of the action."
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or loss caused by medical malpractice, medical negligence, or medical mistake, please contact our Medical Malpractice Law Group to arrange a free and confidential consultation.