Personal Injury

What is a 9(j) opinion?

Personal Injury

The law of North Carolina, as codified in the NC General Statues, section 9(j), requires that a person injured by a doctor’s negligence must obtain an opinion from a certified doctor that the treatment given was below the standard of care. This expert testimony must be from a doctor who is practicing (or practiced) in the specialized area of medicine where the alleged malpractice occurred (ex. cardiovascular, orthopaedic, etc.) at the time the alleged malpractice occurred. In addition, the certified doctor must be familiar with the standard of care for treatment within the medical community in which the alleged malpractice took place. Before an injury victim can consider going forward, he or she must have these opinions.Costs for these opinions are incurred and required to be paid up front, before it’s even determined if you have a case. For people injured by a doctor’s or hospital’s mistake, the requirements of section 9(j) mean that a lot of money must be invested in a case before it begins. And as a result of this hurdle, many medical malpractice cases in North Carolina never move forward. Imagine being seriously injured by a doctor’s mistake. Then consider the impact of that mistake in your life. Finally, realize that unless you (or someone on your behalf) invests thousands of dollars up front, you can do nothing about your situation. This is the state of the law in North Carolina, and the reason why section 9(j) is a feared enemy of anyone injured by medical malpractice. And even when you are successful with obtaining the opinion you need, you still must face the very talented attorneys for the medical community who will make every effort to disqualify your expert’s opinion. Because they know that if the 9(j) expert gets disqualified, your case is over before you get to a jury.

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