The essential guide to Certificates of Merit in New York

Medical malpractice cases in New York are complicated, often involving claims against healthcare providers for not following the standard of care. A crucial part of these cases is the Certificate of Merit (COM). This article explains the COM's role, how to get one, and its impact on your case.

What is a Certificate of Merit?

In New York, a Certificate of Merit is needed for medical malpractice lawsuits. It's like a green light from a medical expert, showing there's good reason to believe a healthcare provider didn't meet the expected care standards, leading to harm. This step is key in making sure only serious claims move forward in court.

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How to get a Certificate of Merit

Let's look at how you can get the Certificate of Merit in New York for a medical lawsuit.

Talk to a medical expert

First, your lawyer will chat with a medical expert (like a doctor, dentist, or podiatrist) who knows a lot about the type of care you received. This is to make sure there's a valid point to your claim.

Lawyer's promise

After talking with the expert, your lawyer has to fill out a form saying they believe your lawsuit has merit, based on the expert's opinion.

Timing is key

This certificate needs to be turned in with your lawsuit papers or soon after. Usually, you have about 90 days, but sometimes you might get a little extra time if there are special reasons, like if you're running out of time because of legal deadlines.

When you might not need it

There are a few exceptions. If it was an emergency situation, if there's clear evidence of a mistake (like a surgical tool left inside a patient), or if you're about to run out of time to sue, you might not need the certificate.

If you're thinking about this kind of lawsuit, it's really important to talk to a lawyer who knows all about medical malpractice in New York. They can help you understand everything you need to do and make sure you're taking the right steps.

Need a Certificate of Merit but don’t know where to start? Our legal team can guide you. Get in touch to discuss your case with a medical malpractice lawyer.

What happens if the Certificate of Merit is rejected?

In New York, if someone doesn't file a Certificate of Merit (COM) on time for a medical lawsuit, and there's no good reason to delay, their case might get thrown out. This rule helps stop pointless lawsuits against doctors and hospitals.

Here's a breakdown of what happens if issues arise with the COM:

  • Dismissal of case

If you don't get the COM in on time and can't justify why you need more time, you could lose your chance to sue​​.

  • Extensions and exceptions

 If you're about to run out of time to sue (you have 30 months in New York), or you're waiting on medical records, the court might give you up to 90 more days. If you tried three times to talk to doctors for advice and couldn't, you need to tell the court​​.

  • Need of expert testimony

The COM shows you talked to a doctor who thinks you have a reason to sue. If you don't have this, your lawsuit looks weak​​.

  • Having a COM doesn’t guarantee you'll win

It's just the first step. After filing, you need to collect evidence to prove your case​​.

Getting a COM is key for suing for medical mistakes in New York. It's tricky, so talking to a lawyer who knows about medical lawsuits can really help. They can make sure you do everything right and fight for you.

Worried your Certificate of Merit might be rejected? Our team is skilled at preparing and defending COMs. Reach out today for peace of mind.


Understanding the Certificate of Merit is key to pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit in New York. It ensures that only legitimate claims proceed, saving time and resources. If you're considering such a lawsuit, consulting with a knowledgeable attorney is critical. They can guide you through the process, helping you navigate the complexities of medical malpractice law in New York.

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