When it comes to medical malpractice, the time you have to file a claim is set by a statute of limitations, or a state law that sets the amount of time you have to file a claim. The kind of case you want to file will determine the deadline, but all medical malpractice cases are covered under the Maryland Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code Section 5-109. Let’s first look at why there are statutes of limitations, and then discuss the proceedings code relevant to medical malpractice.
Why Have Statutes of Limitations?
There are a few main reasons statutes of limitations exist and they tend to benefit the defendant over the plaintiff. First, if a plaintiff has a valid reason to file a claim they should pursue it in a timely manner. Why wait to file a claim if there is an injury affecting you and a legal course of action to be taken? Second, a defendant may be unable to properly defend themselves the more time passes because of evidence issues. This protects defendants from having to protect themselves against claims that are nearly impossible to disprove.
MD Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code Sect. 5-109
The first part of this section of the proceedings code sets the statutes of limitations on, “An action for damages for an injury arising out of the rendering of or failure to render professional services by a health care provider […] shall be filed within the earlier of (1) five years of the time the injury was committed; or (2) three years of the date the injury was discovered.” Accordingly, if there is immediate harm caused by the health care provider’s negligence you have three years from that point to file a claim. In the case of an injury that is not immediately apparent, you are given three years after discovering (using a reasonable person standard) the injury to file a claim, but never more than five years of the time the injury was committed. The safest rule to rely upon is always file within three years of the date the negligence occurred.
The above Statute of Limitations is different as it applies to a minor. If an injury occurs to an individual under the age of 18, the above Statute of Limitations begins to run at the time the individual turns 18. Typically this means that if an injury occurs to a minor the case must be filed prior to the individual’s 21st birthday.
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