Lawmakers in Nevada are debating a proposed bill which would give plaintiffs – meaning patients – additional time to file an expert witness affidavit required for medical malpractice lawsuits.
Currently, a malpractice lawsuit will be dismissed if it does not contain an affidavit from an expert medical witness supporting the allegations. The purpose of the affidavit is to show that the case has some merit.
However, supporters of the proposed bill argue that sometimes the affidavit becomes separated from the lawsuit or cannot be obtained within the one-year statute of limitations, and that dismissing a case for that reason would be unfair.
At a judiciary committee hearing, witnesses testified as to the unfairness of the time limitation. One witness testified about her mother’s death due to a medical error during a hernia operation. After over two years of litigation, the malpractice suit filed by the family was dismissed just weeks before trial after defense attorneys successfully argued that the affidavit was not filed along with the suit but instead was filed separately a few days later.
The proposed bill would give plaintiffs and additional 45 days from the time the suit is filed to include the affidavit. The judiciary committee is currently considering the bill.