Linda gets a surgery in May 2000. In 2014, Linda suffers severe abdominal pain. Doctors discover that the surgery in 2000 had surgical clips that should not have been left behind. Linda files a medical malpractice lawsuit for damages. However, the court essentially told the victim, “sorry, you waited too long to file the lawsuit.” Even though Linda did not know about the medical error until 2014, the court determined that she waited too long and could not recover damages.
A victim of alleged medical negligence in Maryland underwent surgery in 2000 but did not suffer pain until 2014 when she was admitted to the Northwest Hospital Center. Unfortunately, even if the patient did not discover the mistake until 14 years later, Maryland sets the limit on how long claims can be filed at five years from the date the injury occurred.
How the Statute of Limitations Can Close Off Your Claim
The “statute of limitations” is like a clock that starts on the date of the injury or the date of the discovery of the injury. If a claim is filed even one day after the statute of limitations has run, the injury victim may have their claim denied with no compensation available.
It may seem crazy that a doctor could make a serious surgical error and the patient cannot get any compensation because it took too long to feel the pain. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations in some states puts a hard deadline on recovery. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is different in each state and some states make it much harder for injury victims to get compensation from a negligent doctor.
There are some ways to expand the statute of limitations when a strict deadline should not apply. This includes modifications for minors and when an injury is discovered later. If a minor is injured in a medical malpractice accident, the statute of limitations may not “toll” or being to run, until the minor reaches a certain age.
Another modification is the so-called “discovery rule.” Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations should not begin to run until the victim discovers the injury, or reasonably should have discovered the error. However, some states alter these modifications to put further restrictions on the injury victim to benefit the insurance companies.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Malpractice Claim in Maryland?
In Maryland, medical malpractice claims must be filed within 5 years of the date the injury occurred, or within 3 years from the date the injury was discovered, whichever is earlier (§ 5-109). The date of discovery includes the date the plaintiff should have reasonably discovered the injury.
For injury victims under the age of 11, the statute of limitations does not begin until the child turns 11 years old. However, if the claim involves a foreign object left in the body or an injury to the reproductive system, then the statute does not begin until the child turns 16 years old.
Do Not Delay in Calling a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Putting off a medical malpractice claim for too long may mean that your claim will be denied. 3 or 5 years sounds like a lot of time but many people put off filing a lawsuit even if they suspect malpractice. Do not wait for the injury to get worse before calling for help. Call your medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you suspect a medical mistake caused an injury. If you were injured because of a medical mistake, talk to the experienced team at Gilman & Bedigian. Contact us today for a free consultation.