(a) In any action for injury or damages or wrongful death, whether in contract or in tort, against a health care provider for breach of the standard of care, the plaintiff shall have the burden of proving by substantial evidence that the health care provider failed to exercise such reasonable care, skill, and diligence as other similarly situated health care providers in the same general line of practice ordinarily have and exercise in a like case.

Terms Used In Alabama Code 6-5-548

  • Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
  • Damages: Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.
  • Defendant: In a civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • following: means next after. See Alabama Code 30-3D-608
  • Impeachment: (1) The process of calling something into question, as in "impeaching the testimony of a witness." (2) The constitutional process whereby the House of Representatives may "impeach" (accuse of misconduct) high officers of the federal government for trial in the Senate.
  • Plaintiff: The person who files the complaint in a civil lawsuit.
  • preceding: means next before. See Alabama Code 30-3D-608
  • state: when applied to the different parts of the United States, includes the District of Columbia and the several territories of the United States. See Alabama Code 30-3D-608
  • Testify: Answer questions in court.
  • Testimony: Evidence presented orally by witnesses during trials or before grand juries.
  • Tort: A civil wrong or breach of a duty to another person, as outlined by law. A very common tort is negligent operation of a motor vehicle that results in property damage and personal injury in an automobile accident.
  • year: means a calendar year; but, whenever the word "year" is used in reference to any appropriations for the payment of money out of the treasury, it shall mean fiscal year. See Alabama Code 30-3D-608

(b) Notwithstanding any provision of the Alabama Rules of Evidence to the contrary, if the health care provider whose breach of the standard of care is claimed to have created the cause of action is not certified by an appropriate American board as being a specialist, is not trained and experienced in a medical specialty, or does not hold himself or herself out as a specialist, a “similarly situated health care provider” is one who meets all of the following qualifications:

(1) Is licensed by the appropriate regulatory board or agency of this or some other state.

(2) Is trained and experienced in the same discipline or school of practice.

(3) Has practiced in the same discipline or school of practice during the year preceding the date that the alleged breach of the standard of care occurred.

(c) Notwithstanding any provision of the Alabama Rules of Evidence to the contrary, if the health care provider whose breach of the standard of care is claimed to have created the cause of action is certified by an appropriate American board as a specialist, is trained and experienced in a medical specialty, and holds himself or herself out as a specialist, a “similarly situated health care provider” is one who meets all of the following requirements:

(1) Is licensed by the appropriate regulatory board or agency of this or some other state.

(2) Is trained and experienced in the same specialty.

(3) Is certified by an appropriate American board in the same specialty.

(4) Has practiced in this specialty during the year preceding the date that the alleged breach of the standard of care occurred.

(d) Notwithstanding any provision of the Alabama Rules of Evidence to the contrary, no evidence shall be admitted or received, whether of a substantive nature or for impeachment purposes, concerning the medical liability insurance, or medical insurance carrier, or any interest in an insurer that insures medical or other professional liability, of any witness presenting testimony as a “similarly situated health care provider” under the provisions of this section or of any defendant. The limits of liability insurance coverage available to a health care provider shall not be discoverable in any action for injury or damages or wrongful death, whether in contract or tort, against a health care provider for an alleged breach of the standard of care.

(e) The purpose of this section is to establish a relative standard of care for health care providers. A health care provider may testify as an expert witness in any action for injury or damages against another health care provider based on a breach of the standard of care only if he or she is a “similarly situated health care provider” as defined above. It is the intent of the Legislature that in the event the defendant health care provider is certified by an appropriate American board or in a particular specialty and is practicing that specialty at the time of the alleged breach of the standard of care, a health care provider may testify as an expert witness with respect to an alleged breach of the standard of care in any action for injury, damages, or wrongful death against another health care provider only if he or she is certified by the same American board in the same specialty.

(Acts 1987, No. 87-189, p. 261, §9; Acts 1996, No. 96-511, p. 650, §3.)