When doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals make mistakes, Maryland law may entitle victims to pursue compensation in a lawsuit. But the victim must do this before the medical negligence statute of limitations (e.g., filing window) ends. Under this law, victims must sue within five years from when the mistake occurs or three years after discovering it. But tolling provisions, such as fraud or being under 18, can extend the deadline people have to file a lawsuit.
For decades, The Snyder Law Group has been fighting for victims of birth injuries, botched surgeries, and nursing malpractice. Our Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers are well-respected in this field and are unparalleled in their dedication to making victims whole again.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Medical Negligence Claim in Maryland?
Mayland law limits how long someone has to file a medical negligence (e.g., malpractice) lawsuit. Once the filing window closes, the patient may be ineligible to bring a claim against their provider. The statute of limitations requires victims to file their claim within the earlier of:
- Five years from when the medical negligence (e.g., problematic surgery) occurs, or
- Three years after the victim discovers they are the victim of malpractice.
Sometimes, the results of medical errors are immediately clear. For example, the doctor may prescribe a medication to which the patient has a life-threatening reaction. In that situation, the victim may quickly realize their doctor made a mistake (e.g., by failing to check drug interactions). Likewise, if someone suffers abuse at the hands of a negligent nursing home, they or their loved ones may readily discover the error.
In other situations, it can take a long time for the patient to realize their doctor made a harmful mistake. This might occur if a surgeon leaves a foreign object in the patient’s body. In this case, it may not become apparent until much later that their physician made an error.
What Are Exceptions that Can Extend the Filing Deadline?
Several exceptions extend Maryland’s filing deadline for medical malpractice cases. For example, people have additional time to file their claims if they are under 18 when the mistake happens. Likewise, someone with a disability might have longer to bring their case. Finally, in cases of fraudulent concealment, the victim may get more time to submit a lawsuit against the negligent doctor or hospital. Because this is a nuanced area of the law, many victims choose to work with a dedicated personal injury attorney to help them understand and meet their filing deadlines.
The Minors Extension
In Maryland, there is an extension on the medical negligence statute of limitations for minors. In those situations, the clock may begin ticking once the child turns 18. This may give them until their 21st birthday to file a case.
Fraudulent Concealment of Medical Errors
Maryland law gives people additional time to file their medical malpractice case if the at-fault party (e.g., doctor or hospital) conceals the error from them. For example, a negligent surgeon may realize they made a grave mistake and try to cover it up by lying to a patient about why the surgery didn’t work. In other situations, the hospital, healthcare professionals, or insurance company fake documents or intentionally mislead the patient. If this is the reason the victim can’t file their claim within the ordinary deadline, Maryland pauses the filing clock until the victim discovers or should have discovered the fraud.
If the victim’s condition renders them legally incompetent because of a disability, they may have additional time to bring their case. In this situation, they may have to file their claim within a certain period after their disability ends. Depending on the circumstances, the new deadline may be three years after the disability ceases.
What Is the Discovery Rule?
The discovery rule is an alternative way of measuring the filing deadlines. Under this rule, the clock doesn’t begin to run until the victim discovers or should have discovered their injury. In Maryland, the discovery rule gives victims three years after they realize their doctor made a mistake. But, in most situations, they still need to bring the case within five years after the negligent action occurs (unless an exception applies).
Can Tolling Provisions Change the Deadline to File a Claim?
Yes. Tolling provisions are exceptions that suspend the deadline to file a malpractice claim. For example, being a minor when the negligent treatment occurs can pause (e.g., toll) the filing clock. In those situations, the victim may have to take legal action three years from when they turn 18. Another example of a tolling provision is being legally incompetent (e.g., in a coma) at the time of the accident or because of it. In that case, the clock does not start running again until the person is no longer experiencing a disability.
What Options Exist if the Statute of Limitations Has Expired?
If the filing deadline expires before the victim brings a case, they may be unable to submit a lawsuit unless they can present a good reason why this happened. For example, they might point to an important exception, like being a minor or the at-fault doctor or hospital hiding the mistake from them. But because these areas of the law are nuanced and often change, victims should speak to an attorney to help them understand the applicable deadlines.
The Snyder Law Group: Our Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help You Meet Your Filing Deadline
When you’re sick, you depend on healthcare professionals to treat you with respect, dignity, and care. And, when you see a provider, you expect their treatment to make you better, not sicker. If you believe a medical professional harmed you, it may be time to partner with a seasoned legal team who can help.
The Snyder Law Group appreciates how challenging it can be to recover after suffering the effects of medical mistakes. We have the legal insight and experience to help you seek an outcome that supports your rights and best interests. Scott Snyder has been practicing law for nearly 20 years, and his clients praise him for his impressive bedside manner. Many past clients are grateful for his dedication, patience, and responsiveness throughout his legal representation.
If you have questions about how Maryland’s medical negligence statute of limitations applies to your case, contact us by calling 410-755-5829 to schedule your free case evaluation.