What Is an Affidavit of Merit in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, in order to commence a lawsuit against a licensed professional for claims of negligence resulting in damages/injuries, one must provide what is called an “Affidavit of Merit”.
The New Jersey Affidavit of Merit Statute, N.J.S.A. 2A.:53A-27, made law on June 29, 1995, is intended to reduce the filing of “frivolous” lawsuits against certain “licensed” professionals.
The referenced Statute, and other applicable sections of N.J.S.A. 2A:53A, mandate that a plaintiff (the party who brings the lawsuit) who sues for damages stemming out of personal injuries, wrongful death, or property damage as a result of malpractice or negligence by a “licensed person”, provide each defendant (the professional being sued) with an affidavit from an appropriately licensed person (expert) within the field applicable to the case (e.g., radiology, pharmacology, obstetrics, engineering, etc.). This affidavit must state that there is a reasonable probability that the afforded treatment and care by the defendants, and/or the skill or knowledge exercised by the defendants, fell outside of the acceptable customs, standards and/or practices of the profession. In New Jersey medical negligence cases, among other requirements, the expert doctor who issues the affidavit must be licensed to practice and have actively practiced within the field and/or sub-specialty of medicine applicable to the case; and must have no financial interest in the case.
For more comprehensive and updated information with regard to mandated requirements applicable to Affidavits of Merit in professional negligence cases, always consult with legal counsel; and to read applicable sections of N.J.S.A. 2A:53A (under Title 2A), log on to the New Jersey State Legislature Database at this link (NJSLD).