So you believe that you have been injured by an act of medical malpractice. You and your attorney both further believe that you have a strong case, and your lawsuit is not barred by the applicable New York statute of limitations governing medical malpractice actions. Everything looks good to file your lawsuit, or so you think. But there is one more requirement that you will need to satisfy before you can take your complaint to court: you will need to obtain, or at least make a good faith effort to obtain, a certificate of merit.
A certificate of merit serves the purpose of pre-qualifying your lawsuit as being valid in the opinion of at least one medical practitioner. Your belief in your case, and that of your attorney, are generally insufficient to meet the state law requirement that you in fact have a good claim for medical malpractice. What is more, the medical practitioner that you work with when making your certificate needs to be one who is knowledgeable in the issues relevant to your claim (that is, you cannot have a dentist certify your medical malpractice claim against a doctor, or vice-versa).