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Missouri has a reputation for protecting business interests, and the medical industry is no exception. In recent years, new legislation has made it harder for patients to bring forward medical malpractice lawsuits.

Missouri has some of the nation’s top medical facilities and providers. However, even the best still make mistakes. When those mistakes lead to serious harm, patients find themselves feeling lost, alone, and wondering if they have any recourse at all.

Missouri’s medical malpractice laws may be complex, but they’re not impossible to navigate. If you’re wondering whether you have a case, keep reading. We’ll cover what exactly constitutes medical practice in Missouri, what’s changed, and next steps for bringing your case to court.

Standard Elements of Medical Malpractice Laws in Missouri

In Missouri, as well as the rest of the United States, medical malpractice is defined as “healthcare that falls below the accepted standard of care, resulting in injury or harm to the patient.”

To successfully prove medical malpractice, the plaintiff (the patient) must establish four key elements:

1. Duty of Care

The healthcare provider owed a duty of care to the patient. This is generally established by the provider-patient relationship.

2. Breach of Duty

The healthcare provider failed to provide care that met the accepted standard of care in the medical community. This is often the most difficult element to prove.

3. Causation

The healthcare provider’s breach of duty directly caused the patient’s injury or harm. The patient must demonstrate that the bad outcome would not have occurred but for the provider’s negligence.

4. Damages

The patient suffered actual damages, such as additional medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or loss of enjoyment of life, due to the provider’s negligence.

Differences in Missouri Medical Malpractice Laws

In addition to these four core elements, Missouri has other requirements that make medical malpractice cases particularly challenging:

  • Statute of Limitations: Patients in Missouri generally have only two years from the date of the alleged malpractice to file a lawsuit. This is a shorter timeframe than many other states
  • Damage Caps: Missouri places a $450,000 cap on non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. This can significantly limit the potential recovery for patients who have suffered severe, life-altering injuries.
  • Affidavit of Merit: Plaintiffs must obtain a written affidavit from a qualified medical expert. For a healthcare provider to be “qualified,” they must first be licensed in Missouri or a contiguous state, and second, practice the same specialty as the defendant.
  • Expert Witness Requirements: Plaintiffs must use expert witnesses who practice the same specialty as the defendant healthcare provider. These experts must also be licensed in Missouri or a contiguous state.

Timeframe Matters: a Quick Glance Into the Statute of Limitations in Missouri

When filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Missouri, you have a 2-year timeline. This is 1-2 months shorter than the national average (2.15 years.)

Here’s how the Statute of Limitations for medical malpractice breaks down across the United States:

  • 3 states have a 1-year statute of limitations
  • 31 states, including Missouri, have a 2-year statute of limitations
  • 16 states have statutes ranging from 3-5 years

Understanding the Damage Caps for Missouri’s Medical Malpractice Cases

Missouri recently implemented a $450,000 limit on non-economic damages—like general pain and suffering—in medical malpractice lawsuits. The rationale behind these damage caps was to protect healthcare providers and insurance companies from big payouts.

Lobbyists argued it would help keep medical costs down for consumers, and those who opposed the bill argued it’d just become harder for patients to recover the total compensation they deserve.

One thing both parties can agree on, however, is this damage cap created a stronger incentive for patients and their attorneys to pursue only the most clear-cut and potentially lucrative medical malpractice cases.

Cases with more ambiguous evidence or the potential for lower payouts become much less viable, as the time and expense involved may not be worthwhile given the limit on non-economic damages.

Notice of Intent to File Medical Malpractice Cases in Missouri

Before legal proceedings begin, you must inform the accused party—whether a healthcare provider, hospital, or another entity—that you intend to file a malpractice claim against them. The notice of intent must be served at least 90 days before you file the malpractice lawsuit in court, providing extra time for settlement discussions or internal investigations.

When drafting the notice of intent, you need to include:

  • A description of the alleged negligent act or omission that led to your injuries or damages.
  • The time, place, and circumstances surrounding the incident.
  • The names of all parties against whom you’re claiming damages.
  • Healthcare providers who treated you for injuries related to the alleged negligence.

Missouri vs Kansas: a Comparative Look at Pre-litigation Medical Malpractice Requirements

Unlike Missouri’s notice of intent system, Kansas takes a different approach to medical malpractice lawsuits. Plaintiffs must file a “certificate of merit” within 120 days of filing their malpractice complaint. In short, this is a written statement from a qualified healthcare professional, which states that they have:

  1. Reviewed your case.
  2. Believe there is merit to your malpractice claim.

Whoever signs the certificate must be qualified and in the same field as the healthcare provider you’re suing—this helps ensure only valid malpractice claims enter the litigation phase.

What Next for Your Case?

Missouri’s medical malpractice laws and protective stance towards the medical industry can make it feel like the odds are stacked against you. You don’t have to face this challenge alone. Take the first step towards securing your rights and start a conversation with the medical malpractice lawyers at Simon Law. With over 20 years of experience and more than $1 billion in verdicts and settlements, we’ll help you get the compensation you deserve.

Contact The Simon Law Firm, P.C.

Our mission is to provide the highest-quality legal services with integrity, professionalism, and respect for our clients.
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