What is considered medical malpractice?
Under Maryland law, a medical professional commits medical malpractice by providing medical care that is inconsistent with the accepted standards of practice for similar health care providers. Simply because a medical professional did not act in accordance with generally accepted standards of practice does not mean that a patient has a valid medical malpractice claim. Likewise, simply because a patient is injured by a medical professional does not mean that the medical professional committed medical malpractice. If you suspect, however, that you suffered an injury, and if you believe that the injury was due to a medical professional’s inappropriate medical care, you may have a medical malpractice claim.
How do you prove medical malpractice?
Under Maryland law, a patient who brings a medical malpractice claim must establish:
- The applicable standard of care;
- That the defendant medical professional(s) breached that standard of care; and
- That the plaintiff(s) suffered harm as a result of that breach.
To prove all of these elements, a plaintiff almost always needs to hire medical experts who will testify at trial that each of the above elements were met. Under Maryland law, before a lawsuit can be filed, a plaintiff must file a certificate of a qualified expert with the appropriate Maryland authorities within a certain period of time. As its name suggests, that certificate must be signed by a qualified expert. Otherwise, the claim may be dismissed. It is therefore important to retain a Maryland medical malpractice attorney who can hire the appropriate qualified experts to support a claim.
What is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Maryland?
A statute of limitations is a law that limits how long a person has to file a lawsuit. In Maryland, the statute of limitations is generally three (3) years from the date that the injury was discovered for medical malpractice claims. In some cases, that may be extended to five (5) years or even longer for minors. However, to make sure a claim is filed in a timely manner, it is important to speak with a Maryland medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. The attorney will be able to evaluate whether an exception may apply to extend (or toll) the statute of limitations or whether the claim is subject to the three-year statute of limitations.
What kinds of damages can a medical malpractice plaintiff obtain?
In Maryland, a patient can recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include things like the costs of any medical care incurred, the costs associated with necessary future treatment from the injuries, and lost earnings due the inability to work from the injuries. These are quantifiable damages. By contrast, non-economic damages include things like the patient’s (and potentially the family’s) pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other emotional stressors. The patient can also recover damages for the loss of the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures.
Under Maryland law, there is a cap on the amount of non-economic damages that a party can recover. This means that, by law, an injured party cannot recover more than a certain amount for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. That cap increases slightly every year, and it also depends on whether the party is filing an individual lawsuit or whether family members are filing a lawsuit on a deceased person’s behalf.
In very rare cases, an injured party or members of the injured person’s family can recover something called punitive damages. These damages are available when a medical professional acts with an evil motive or acts with malice. A Maryland medical malpractice attorney can evaluate your case to determine whether those are available.
To obtain a damages award, a party must usually proceed to trial before a jury. Some cases settle before a trial, but if a fair settlement cannot be obtained, a medical malpractice claim must be proven to a jury. Having an attorney who has tried cases before a jury and knows how they value cases is therefore important. The medical malpractice attorneys at Morris James are keenly aware of how juries calculate damages awards given their trial experience and know how to obtain the best results for their clients as a result.