A recent surgical procedure or medical treatment has left you injured. It’s clear your situation was the result of negligence, or possibly incompetence, on behalf of a doctor, nurse, technician, hospital, or medical worker. You sue, you win and you are left with a sizable payout to cover your “actual economic loss,” including lost wages and medical expenses resulting from the malpractice and “noneconomic loss,” such as pain and suffering.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Medical malpractice, both in Maryland and just about every other state in the country, is an extremely complicated issue. Generally speaking, you, as the injured patient, must prove that (1) a professional duty was owed to you as the patient;(2) the medical provider breached such duty; (3) that your injury was a direct result of the breach; and (4) the resulting damages will reasonably address your losses.
There are also several rules governing how a medical malpractice lawsuit can proceed…
Malpractice Lawsuits Must Be Filed Promptly
The first thing that comes into play regarding a malpractice lawsuit is the statute of limitations, i.e., how much time you’re legally granted between the date of the alleged malpractice and the date you must file the lawsuit. If the malpractice occurred on Date A, the clock starts running and any lawsuit must be filed by Date B. However, even this isn’t that cut and dried. Maryland malpractice law holds that a malpractice claim must be filed within five years after the injury occurred, OR within three years after you’ve discovered or reasonably could have discovered the injury, whichever comes first. If you were mentally incapacitated (under prolonged sedation, in a coma, or otherwise unable to make decisions) when the alleged malpractice occurred, you will more than likely have until three years after your mental disability ends.
Miss the statute of limitations deadline and your case will almost definitely be dismissed by the court.
Maryland’s “Certificate of Qualified Expert” Requirement
You claiming that your doctor was negligent is one thing, but the courts require you to bring in a qualified expert to confirm that your claim is reasonable. Within 90 days of filing your medical malpractice claim, you will need to provide documentation of a qualified medical expert who has sworn that he/she has reviewed your claim and believes that (1) the medical care provider did not meet the accepted medical standard of care when treating you; and (2) that your injuries are a direct result of the health care provider’s negligence to meet that standard.
The Maryland Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages
How much can a malpractice claim actually win? Maryland is one of many states that has capped the amount of “noneconomic damages” awarded to a patient who’s won a malpractice lawsuit. This cap depends on the year in which the injury occurred. The total amount for the calendar year 2022 is $860,000, with the limit increasing by $15,000 each year. For injuries that occurred prior to 2022, the limit is decreased by $15,000 per calendar year.
Keep in mind that “noneconomic damages” refers to compensation for hard-to-quantify elements like pain and suffering, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring, and other negative side effects. Maryland does not cap “economic damages” such as compensation for past medical expenses, current medical care, lost income, and damage to your future ability to earn a living.
If you’ve been a victim of malpractice in Maryland, a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action. Contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.