According to statistics, Maryland has about 21 medical malpractice cases filed for every 100,000 residents each year. In 2015 that amounted to a total payout of $108.6 million for the victims. These awards go to people who were harmed by the negligent actions of doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals and facilities in the state.
The awards are the result of lawsuits guided by dedicated and experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyers. If you have suffered because of medical errors that you believe were negligent, you need a lawyer with knowledge of Maryland’s malpractice laws to help you make your case and win the justice and compensation you deserve.
Maryland’s Medical Malpractice Laws
Maryland, like other states, has its own unique set of laws that govern how medical malpractice cases can file and proceed, and what results plaintiffs can get. It is important for patients to understand some of these laws because it allows them to be active players in their own cases. With a basic understanding, and the guidance of malpractice lawyers, victims of medical negligence in Maryland have the best chance of getting justice.
One important law to understand is the statute of limitations. In Maryland the statute of limitations, or the time a plaintiff has to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, is either five years from the time the harm actually occurred or three years from when the patient discovered it. Whichever comes first is the statute of limitations. Using the three-year discovery limit, a plaintiff has the burden of proving that the injury or harm could not have been discovered earlier.
Maryland law also places a cap on the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover in these cases. The cap is only on non-economic damages, for things like pain, suffering, or mental anguish that cannot be monetized. The cap increases by $15,000 every year to help compensate for inflation. For lawsuits filed in 2018 the cap is $800,000. For wrongful death cases the cap is 125 percent of the non-economic damages cap. There is no cap in the state on economic damages, like medical expenses and lost wages.
Certificate of Qualified Expert
Like many other states, Maryland instituted a pre-screening law for medical malpractice cases. These laws require that a plaintiff’s case go through a process that demonstrates it has merit before the lawsuit can be filed. In Maryland this requirement is called the “certificate of a qualified expert.” A plaintiff or his or her lawyer must have a signed statement from a licensed Maryland medical professional with expertise in the same area of medicine involved in the case.
This statement must prove that the expert believes the defendant failed to provide accepted standard of care in the negligent incident. If a plaintiff tries to file a lawsuit without this certificate it will most likely be dismissed automatically. Critics of this kind of requirement say that it puts a burden on victims of medical errors that prevents some from filing a lawsuit, even in situations where the case has merit. Supporters of the law say it reduces costs by preventing frivolous lawsuits.
Some medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland have tried to get around the certificate law by filing lawsuits for ordinary negligence. For instance, one case was dismissed in which a woman in a nursing home was injured after a fall. The fall was caused by a staff member who did not know how to use equipment properly. The legal team filed it as ordinary negligence but was denied filing because the court decided it should have been filed as a medical negligence case. Without the certificate, the case was dismissed, but the plaintiff is appealing.
Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases
Malpractice cases in Maryland sometimes end in favor of the plaintiff, and other times in favor of the defendant. Malpractice lawyers in the state strive to win both justice and recovered damages for their clients, and when they do they are often noteworthy cases. In one big example, a jury awarded damages to thousands of plaintiffs in the case of a gynecologist who secretly recorded his patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The legal team helped victims get a total jury award of $190 million.
Another big case ended in 2016 when a family was awarded $10 million and found the University of Maryland Medical System to be liable for medical negligence. The family’s legal team successfully showed that the medical staff gave the family’s relative the wrong medication. This led to serious damage to his colon, which ultimately caused his death. They made the case that the doctor who prescribed it had safer options for treating the patient.
In another wrongful death case, a man was cleared for surgery and the family’s lawyers made the case that he should not have been. The man had elective back surgery, but had risk factors for heart disease. He was cleared for surgery by a doctor who did know him and who ordered an electrocardiogram. The results were abnormal, but he was allowed to undergo surgery anyway. He died later that day at home from heart complications. The family was awarded $645,000 by a jury.
Working with a Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Finding a good malpractice lawyer for your medical negligence case in Maryland is important, but it is only the first step. Start by seeking a lawyer in good standing in the state who specializes in just medical malpractice. Ask about specific experiences to be sure the lawyer you select truly specializes in this area. Find out about the results of cases and if a lawyer has won settlements and jury awards.
Once you have chosen the lawyer you feel comfortable working with, you are ready to put your case in his or her hands. However, you should still remain an active contributor so that you can advocate for yourself and make the best choices about how to proceed. To work well with a malpractice lawyer you need to be open and to share all your medical records. Never hide anything from your lawyer, who is bound by ethics to keep that information confidential. By providing all necessary information, you give your lawyer the best chance to win your case.
If you have experienced medical negligence, you have lost trust for the medical professionals who are supposed to provide you with the best care. You may be suffering physically and emotionally. You want justice and to hold those responsible accountable for the mistakes made. To do this you need to work with a dedicated Maryland malpractice lawyer who will fight by your side and guide you through the entire process.