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The Basics of Maryland Medical Malpractice Law

Medical malpractice laws are different in every state. If you want to know about filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in your area, it is important to talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney who understands your state and local laws. The trial attorneys at Gilman and Bedigian have years of experience dealing with medical malpractice cases in Baltimore and all across Maryland. 

If you want to know if you have a medical malpractice case or how much your case may be worth, Gilman and Bedigian may be able to help. Contact our office today online or by phone at 800-529-6162.  

Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice is a legal claim involving a health care provider deviating from the standards of medical care that causes injury and harm to a patient. A breach of the duty of care generally means that the doctor did something (or failed to do something) that a reasonable doctor would not have done under similar circumstances. When that deviation causes injury to the patient, the doctor can be responsible for the patient’s injuries and losses. 

When the injury victim files a medical malpractice claim and the jury finds for the injury victim, they can get an award of money for medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and any other damages related to the medical error. 

Some of the major areas of medical malpractice in Maryland include: 

Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Maryland

A medical malpractice claim can begin with a demand letter. A demand letter explains the basis for the claim and a request for damage. In most medical malpractice lawsuits, the demand letter may not settle the case and it will have to go to court. The lawsuit begins with filing a complaint in court. After the complaint is filed, the defendants (doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies) will file an answer. 

This is the beginning of the lawsuit and the parties can then exchange “discovery,” which is information and evidence related to the case. The discovery phase in a medical malpractice case can take months or even years for a complicated case. Discovery involves medical records, hospital records, statements from witnesses and parties involved, and other evidence relevant to the case. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the lawsuit can be settled at any time. A settlement is an agreement between the parties to release the legal claims in exchange for a settlement amount. As the case goes further and further along, it will be more likely to be settled. The majority of medical malpractice cases are settled before they are decided by a jury. 

A settlement can be beneficial for both sides. As the injury victim, you never know how a jury will come down. Even if you have a strong case, there may be something the jury focuses on and decides in favor of the medical companies. A settlement offers a guarantee of a certain amount of money. A settlement also allows you to avoid the stress and save time by not having to go through trial, so you can move on with your life. 

Expert Witness Review and Certificate of Merit

Unlike other types of personal injury lawsuits, there may be an additional requirement for filing a lawsuit in court. In Maryland, the plaintiff has to get a certificate from a qualified medical expert that there is a reasonable basis for the claim. 

Under the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act, a medical malpractice claim can be dismissed if the plaintiff fails to file a certificate of a qualified expert within 90 days from the date of the complaint. 

Under § 3-2A-04 a medical malpractice claim “shall be dismissed, without prejudice, if the claimant or plaintiff fails to file a certificate of a qualified expert with the Director attesting to departure from standards of care, and that the departure from standards of care is the proximate cause of the alleged injury, within 90 days from the date of the complaint”

Time Limit to File a Malpractice Case in Maryland

There is a limited amount of time to file a medical malpractice claim, known as the “statute of limitations.” In Maryland, a medical malpractice claim must be filed within five (5) years of the date the injury occurred, or within three (3)  years from the date the injury was discovered, whichever is earlier. Most medical injury victims only have 3 years to file their claim from the time of the negligent medical treatment, unless they discover it later.

If a child is injured because of a medical error, they may have more time to file a lawsuit. Under Maryland statute §5–109, “ if the claimant was under the age of 11 years at the time the injury was committed, the time limitations prescribed in [this section] shall commence when the claimant reaches the age of 11 years.” This means that a child under the age of 11 who suffers a medical injury that is discovered will generally have until age 14 to file a claim. 

There may be other exceptions to the statute of limitations but you don’t want to take a chance. The statute of limitations can be very strict. There is no grace period. If you file your claim even one day too late, your claim may be denied. This is why it is important to talk to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after a medical injury. Do not wait too long or you might lose out on your opportunity to recover compensation. 

What Is My Malpractice Case Worth?

When filing a civil lawsuit for personal injury or medical malpractice, the complaint includes a request for damages. Damages are the losses associated with the injury. Damages can include economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are definable financial losses involved in the injury. For a medical malpractice case, economic damages can include: 

Non-economic damages may be harder to put into a dollar value but they include losses caused by the injury that most people can easily understand. For example, if someone is injured because of a doctor’s mistake and has to suffer in extreme pain for one month, most people think the injury victim should be compensated for their unnecessary suffering. This could be awarded as a non-economic damage under pain and suffering. Other non-economic damages can include loss of support and loss of enjoyment in life caused by disfigurement or disability.

How much your medical malpractice case in Maryland might be worth can depend on several factors. In general, the more severe the injury and the younger the victim, the more the case may be worth. A temporary injury that does not have a long-term impact may have limited damages. However, a permanent injury has damages that can continue for the rest of the person’s life. 

Is There a Limit on Damages in Maryland?

There can be a cap on certain types of medical malpractice damages in Maryland. While many states have found medical malpractice caps to be unconstitutional, the health care lobby in Maryland is very strong and the cap has been upheld. How is this fair? It isn’t fair but insurance companies spend a lot of money on politicians to try and justify a limit on how much they have to pay an injury victim. 

The harmful effects of medical malpractice limits can be made worse because juries do not know about them. The judge won’t tell the jury that there is a limit on the damages. Instead, the jury comes up with a fair award for non-economic damages, even if it is over the cap. The judge will then automatically reduce the award without the jury knowing. Under Maryland law, “if the jury awards an amount for noneconomic damages that exceeds the limitation established […], the court shall reduce the amount to conform to the limitation.”

The cap on damages only applies to non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Under Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 3-2A-05, “an award or verdict under this subtitle for noneconomic damages for a cause of action arising between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2008, inclusive, may not exceed $650,000.” 

The limitation on noneconomic damages shall increase by $15,000 each year, beginning January 1, 2009. As of January 1, 2022, the cap on non-economic damages is $860,000. In 2023, the cap on non-economic damages will be $875,000. In 2024, the cap on non-economic damages will be $890,000.

Who Is Responsible for My Medical Injury in Maryland?

Under Maryland Code, a “health care provider” means “a person who is licensed, certified, or otherwise authorized under the Health Occupations Article to provide health care in the ordinary course of business or practice of a profession or in an approved education or training program.” A health care provider is also a facility where healthcare is provided, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Medical laboratories
  • Mental disorder facility

The person or group responsible for your medical injury can depend on the cause of injury and health care providers involved. Many medical malpractice cases involve claims against doctors or surgeons. However, other health care providers can also be liable in a medical injury, including: 

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Pharmacies
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses
  • Physician’s assistants
  • Hospital employees
  • Drug companies

Baltimore Hospitals and Medical Centers

There are several hospitals and medical centers in Baltimore and across Maryland. Baltimore has some of the top teaching hospitals at centers like Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. However, just because you are going to a top hospital does not mean that doctors there can’t make a mistake. If you are injured after negligent medical care at any medical center, it is important to speak out. Some of the hospitals in Baltimore include: 

  • Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital
  • Bon Secours Hospital
  • Medstar Good Samaritan Hospital of Maryland
  • Greater Baltimore Medical Center
  • Medstar Harbor Hospital
  • University of Maryland Rehabilitation & Orthopaedic
  • Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center
  • Johns Hopkins Hospital
  • Kennedy Krieger Institute
  • Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center & Hospital
  • Medstar Franklin Square Medical Center
  • Mercy Medical Center
  • Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital
  • Sinai Hospital of Baltimore
  • Children’s Hospital at Sinai
  • Medstar Union Memorial Hospital
  • University of Maryland Medical Center
  • University of Maryland Medical Center, Midtown
  • VA Maryland Healthcare System

The largest hospitals in Baltimore (by number of staffed beds) are Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland Medical Center, and Sinai Hospital. The following information provides information on the location and number of beds for these hospitals:

Johns Hopkins Hospital
Approximately 1,019 staffed beds
1800 Orleans Street
Baltimore, MD 21287
(410) 955-5000

University of Maryland Medical Center
Approximately 846 staffed beds
22 S Greene Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
(410) 328-8667

Sinai Hospital
Approximately 426 staffed beds
2401 W Belvedere Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21215
(410) 601-9000

What Happens if a Loved One Died Because of Malpractice?

If someone dies because of medical malpractice, they are no longer able to file a lawsuit to hold the doctors and hospitals accountable for their actions. To provide justice and compensation for the family, wrongful death lawsuits allow for a civil action against negligent doctors to make sure they pay for their mistakes. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed on behalf of the deceased to award money to the beneficiaries after the loss of a loved one. 

Like a medical malpractice case, wrongful death lawsuits have a time limit for filing in Maryland. Wrongful death claims in Maryland must be filed within three (3) years of the death of the patient or within three (3) years of when the patient should have discovered the injury. If a loved one died after receiving (or failing to receive) medical care, talk to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you find out if the death was caused by a medical mistake. 

Maryland Medical Malpractice Law Firm Record Awards and Settlements

Experienced trial attorneys like H. Briggs Bedigian and Charles Gilman have a strong reputation in the Maryland legal community. The Maryland law firm of Gilman & Bedigian has a proven record of successfully fighting for their clients in court. Their representation includes seeking the maximum compensation available for their clients who have suffered a medical injury. 

Our attorneys have won more than a dozen jury verdicts of over one million dollars, including 3 jury verdicts of over $20 million, including a $55 million award in a birth injury case. When a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed, the insurance companies look at who is representing the injury victim. The law firm’s legal reputation is something that is taken very seriously in making a strong settlement offer.  

If you want to know if you have a medical malpractice claim, contact an experienced medical malpractice law firm for legal advice about your rights. A medical malpractice attorney can look at your case, review your health records, and help you understand the basics of medical malpractice claims in Maryland. With an experienced attorney on your side, you can recover the maximum damages for your injuries. Contact a law firm that handles Maryland medical malpractice cases like yours. Contact Gilman & Bedigian online or at 800-529-6162 for a free consultation.

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