If you are considering filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland, it is good to understand what the laws and regulations are. For example, Maryland laws impose a deadline (called a statute of limitations) on when you can bring a lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, the law may prevent you from filing a claim against the negligent doctor or hospital.
The rules also require you to file a certificate of merit to support your claim. Other important Maryland medical malpractice laws encompass damage caps, expert witnesses, and proving liability. Medical malpractice cases are some of the most complex, so it is good to be as prepared as you can.
The Snyder Law Group understands the pain and frustration experienced by a client when hurt by a doctor. It is often a deep betrayal, causing them to experience physical, financial, and emotional damage. If you suffered an injury at the hands of a doctor or hospital, our experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers are here to fight for your interests and hold the negligent doctor or hospital responsible for what they did to you.
The Statute Of Limitations for Maryland Medical Malpractice Claims
In every state, there is a limited time period for you to file a lawsuit before it becomes invalid. Under Maryland law, most medical malpractice claims must be filed within the shorter of five years after the malpractice occurred or three years after the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the injury.
For example, if someone develops a serious infection after surgery, they likely have three years to file a claim. This is because they may have enough information to link the infection to the surgery. Even if this is not the case, they likely have at most five years to file the claim (unless an exception applies).
Statute of Limitations for Minors Who Suffer Injuries
Maryland gives injured minors additional time to file a lawsuit stemming from a malpractice incident. In many cases, the statute of limitations does not start until they turn 18, based on a well-known Maryland court case.
That means minors may have until they turn 21 to file a lawsuit. This area of law is nuanced, so parents should talk to a legal professional about their options before they decide against bringing a lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If you are bringing a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from medical malpractice, you have three years from the date when the person passed away to file your case. These rules can become confusing, and there may be exceptions to them, so you should always discuss these issues with an attorney.
Statute of Limitations for Out-of-State Residents
Although the general statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims may be three years, if you were seeking medical treatment in Maryland but primarily reside in another state, the statute of limitations may be extended.
For example, if you were seeing a specialist in Maryland, but you lived in Oklahoma, the law may allow you a maximum of five years from the discovery date to get your medical malpractice lawsuit filed. The discovery date refers to the day in which you learned of or should have discovered your healthcare provider’s mistake or your subsequent injuries.
Statute of Limitations for Victims Who Lack the Mental Capacity to Pursue Their Claim
In some instances, medical errors result in severe cognitive dysfunction or mental incapacity. If your loved one is currently mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations for their medical malpractice claim may be temporarily paused until they regain the capacity they need to pursue their case.
Other Essential Medical Malpractice Deadlines
There are several other medical malpractice deadlines and rules regarding medical malpractice claims that you should be aware of, as they could have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.
For example, one of the most common ways medical malpractice victims recover compensation for their damages is by filing a claim against their healthcare provider’s medical malpractice insurance policy. The vast majority of healthcare providers have malpractice insurance coverage in place in the event they make a medical mistake or error.
This means you can file a claim with the insurance company and recover certain types and amounts of damages based on how much coverage the policyholder has purchased. Unfortunately, filing a claim with the insurance company is not necessarily going to be easy.
There are many requirements insurance companies have you must adhere to. This includes claim deadlines. Many insurance companies require medical malpractice claims to be filed within days or even weeks after the patient discovers they have been a victim of their healthcare provider’s negligence.
Failure to file a medical malpractice insurance claim before the insurance company’s deadline means the insurer may be able to get away with denying you the compensation and financial support you would have been entitled to otherwise.
Maryland Medical Malpractice Law May Require the Victim to File a Certificate of a Qualified Expert
Maryland law also requires victims to submit a certificate of a qualified expert within 90 days after filing the lawsuit. In this document, victims must explain the basis for the malpractice action and have a qualified expert agree with their assessment that the provider committed negligence.
For example, if you developed a serious post-op infection because your surgical team did not use sterile instruments, you must have an expert review the case and give their opinion. In most cases, the expert must be someone who regularly practices in the same field as the negligent healthcare provider in your case. They should also support your claim (i.e., believe your doctor committed negligence).
You may not need to file a certificate if the sole basis for the malpractice action is that your doctor did not get your informed consent. An attorney can help you understand how to get a certificate from a qualified expert and when you need to file it.
Maryland Medical Malpractice Laws Influencing Your Case
There are several Maryland laws that could have an influence on the outcome of your medical malpractice lawsuit:
Victims Must Have an Expert Witness Verify Their Claim and Testify
In a medical malpractice case, you typically must always have a medical expert take the stand to testify that your injuries were, in fact, a result of the doctor’s negligence. In Maryland, a qualified expert is a licensed professional that is knowledgeable in the standard of care in the field of the person who you filed a claim against.
For example, if you are filing a claim against your heart surgeon, the expert should be a heart surgeon or someone with experience in that area of medicine. The expert should also be someone who has had time to review the evidence in your case and can provide a thorough and educated assessment.
Maryland Law Imposes Damage Caps
Maryland imposes damage caps, which limit the amount of compensation you can receive in a medical malpractice case. These limits typically apply to non-economic damages, which compensate victims for the human cost of the injury. This includes pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement, and related harms.
Maryland law sets the non-economic damages cap at $875,000 as of 2023, and it increases by $15,000 every year. The court sets the damage cap based on when the malpractice claim accrues, which can be different from the year it is filed.
Currently, Maryland does not have a cap on the amount of economic damages (such as medical expenses or lost wages) a person can receive. An attorney can help you understand how the damage cap applies to your case and how to calculate the appropriate amount of compensation to ask for in a settlement.
Maryland Rules About Contributory Negligence in Medical Malpractice Cases
Maryland follows the law of contributory negligence, which says that if the plaintiff contributed to their injuries, they typically could not recover compensation. Maryland law has limited exceptions to this rule, such as the “last clear chance” doctrine.
Because of what is at stake in these types of cases, it is important to be as prepared as possible when presenting your case to a judge or jury. A medical malpractice lawyer can work with you to develop an effective strategy and help maximize your chances of receiving compensation.
Arbitration is Often Mandatory
The Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (“Health Claims Act”) requires victims claiming an injury from medical malpractice must first file their claims in Maryland Health Claims Arbitration. The plaintiff must file a certificate of merit from a qualified medical expert within 90 days of filing their medical malpractice complaint. That certificate must include the following:
- Specifics of the claimed injury
- The alleged breach of the standard of care
- What the doctors should have done to meet the standard of care
- Validation that the doctor(s) breach of the standard of care definitively caused the plaintiff’s injury
Although arbitration may be considered mandatory, there are also situations in which you may have the authority to avoid going through arbitration. According to Maryland code § 3-2A-02(a)(1), victims of medical malpractice have the option of waiving mandatory arbitration and instead filing a lawsuit in Maryland circuit courts.
However, this can only be done after you have had an expert complete a certificate of merit. If you would like to waive your right to a health claim through binding arbitration, you must file your arbitration waiver within 60 days of your expert certification according to Maryland code § 3-2A-04(b).
We here at Snyder Law Group have over thirty years of experience specializing in medical malpractice cases. If you or a loved one have become a victim of negligence or malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us now to get started.
Have You Or Your Loved One Been A Victim Of Medical Malpractice? Call The Snyder Law Group Today
The Snyder Law Group, LLC, proudly represents clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Our experienced Baltimore attorneys understand the frustration that comes from working with an insurance company, medical professional, or another party that refuses to accept liability for negligent or reckless behavior.
You can take heart in knowing our talented and experienced lawyers are ready to work for you. We are experienced in handling personal injury claims of medical malpractice and have secured hundreds of millions in verdicts and settlements. Please visit our website, www.410thefirm.com, for more information and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.