I assume that by your question that your claim is against medical providers employed by the United States or a US government run facility such as the VA. Otherwise , the Tort Claim Act probably does not apply. Although the Notice of Claim is a procedural hurdle, you should try to give as much specific information as possible in terms of the time, date, place and circumstances so that they can perform a preliminary investigation of the claim. You will probably not be in a position to give more than general allegations of the alleged malpractice. It is of course preferable that you first consult an attorney promptly and provide him with all of the facts so that he/she can determine which allegations should be made.
The information required in the notice is VERY specific, as is the manner in which the notice must be sent. This is all set forth in the statute. I would not recommend that anyone attempt to provide pre-suit notice unless they have consulted with an experienced Tennessee medical malpractice attorney. An error in pre-suit notice can be fatal to your claim.
Please note that my answering this question, does not in any way mean I represent you for this, or any other case. This answer is given for informational purposes and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Thomas R. Greer Bailey & Greer, PLLC 6256 Poplar Avenue Memphis, TN 38119 (901) 680-9777 http://www.baileygreer.com
Mr. Schoen and Mr. Greer are correct. Medical malpractice claims are very fact-intensive and require a good deal of expertise in crafting. This is because, in the past, many people (including lawyers!) would see doctors as some of the wealthiest in our communities, thus easy targets for frivolous lawsuits. The common perception among some in the past was that insurance companies would rather quickly settle a claim rather than risk exposure to media scrutiny.
This behavior saw many, many lawsuits reaching the court system that had very little, if no, merit to them. They flooded our system so that in some locations the courts were nigh overwhelmed with people looking to get rich quick off of the deep pockets of doctors. Plus, in America unlike many other western nations, we have punitive damage awards, which make lawsuits against doctors even more attractive. Add on to that the fact that juries often lack the expertise to understand the rigorous scientific methodology of medicine and you have a system that was giving lots of money to cases where the patient's result looked ugly in pictures, but was not an incidence of malpractice.
Today there are protections in place to make sure only meritorious claims reach juries. These requirements are detailed. Everyone has the ability to research the laws themselves and craft a complaint, but you should strongly consider consulting with a qualified medical malpractice attorney before proceeding. My colleagues are very on-point: something that may seem like a minor error can be fatally defective to your claim. Courts and judges do not like wasting time while people try to learn how to craft their lawsuit correctly. You should speak with a malpractice attorney.
This advice being provided in no way represents the formation of a lawyer client relationship. This is advice only based on limited information. The advice seeker should seek an in-person meeting with a qualified attorney to discuss his or her issue.
First off, you should not attempt to send the notice without first talking to an attorney who practices medical negligence cases, and I would advise against doing it yourself. However, if you do, the notice must EXACTLY conform with 29-26-121 in its content and manner served. If one little mistake is made in the notice, it can (and likely will) lead to dismissal. As far as setting out specific acts and allegations which you feel violated the standard of care, that's not expressly required, so long as you give the appropriate date(s) and names, offices and addresses of every actor involved and make it clear its being sent to provide notice of a potential malpractice claim. Always good to state initially that it is being sent per 29-26-121. Do NOT forget to attach a valid and executed HIPAA release to each notice. Again, do not try to do this w/o a lawyer.
Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about personal injury law.