Being a victim of medical error can be devastating when you are left with physical, emotional, and financial injuries by a trusted medical provider.
Seeking justice for medical wrongdoing can look different for everyone, but the ultimate goal is to hold the person who caused your injury liable for the damages you’ve sustained. This article will discuss medical wrongdoing, Maryland law, and steps to take toward seeking justice for your injury.
What Is Medical Wrongdoing?
Medical wrongdoing refers to a healthcare provider’s error or negligence. Most medical errors fall under the category of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a physician, nurse, hospital, or other healthcare provider injures a patient through an action or omission.
Legally, medical malpractice or medical negligence is the basis for a cause of action in a lawsuit typically filed by an injured patient against a healthcare professional.
What Is the Rule of Law for Medical Wrongdoing?
For a negligent act or omission to be considered medical malpractice, the doctor or provider must have deviated from the accepted standard of care in that medical community.
Maryland Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims
A statute of limitations is the timeframe or deadline for bringing a legal claim. They exist in both the civil and criminal worlds. Like most states, Maryland has a statute of limitations for how long a victim has to bring a medical practice claim.
You must file your case by the earlier of the following deadlines:
- Three years from when you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the injury; or
- Five years from the date of your injury.
It is important to remember that there are exceptions to this rule, which may mean you have less or more time to file your claim, depending on your circumstances. Speaking with an attorney soon after your injury is crucial to preserve your rights.
How Do You Prove a Medical Malpractice Case?
Seeking justice for medical wrongdoing can look different among individuals. Most often, seeking justice for your injury comes as filing a civil lawsuit.
While different medical malpractice cases may have unique nuances that the plaintiff must prove, most medical malpractice claims require the plaintiff to prove four elements for a successful case:
- The doctor or other healthcare provider owed a duty of care. The duty or standard of care is what a reasonable provider would do with the same patient under similar circumstances.
- The doctor violated the duty of care. When the physician deviates from the standard of care, they breach their duty to you.
- You suffered an injury due to that breach of duty. It is not enough to say the doctor breached their duty; you must show their error caused your injury.
- You suffered damages due to your injury. You must illustrate that you sustained some actual loss or damage due to the physician’s error.
Proving these elements can be challenging and complex. We strongly encourage anyone injured by medical wrongdoing to seek the assistance of counsel.
What Types of Damages Are Available?
If you bring a successful case, you may be entitled to damages. In Maryland, as in most states, there are generally two types of damages a plaintiff may be entitled to in a med mal case: Economic and non-economic.
- Economic damages are typically the easiest to calculate because they represent your actual loss, including medical bills, past and future lost wages, and anticipated medical expenses.
- Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are subjective and more personal to the individual victim and can be a bit more challenging to quantify. These damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of life enjoyment, consortium loss, and more.
Under limited circumstances, a med mal plaintiff may be able to seek punitive damages. However, Maryland’s Supreme Court has held that they can only be awarded when a plaintiff can show that there was “actual malice” on the defendant’s part.
Is There a Cap on Damages in Maryland?
Every state handles limits on medical malpractice damages differently. Some have no caps at all, and others are stringent. In Maryland, there is no cap on economic damages. However, non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are currently capped.
The amount of the cap differs depending on when the cause of action arose, but claims arising in 2023 are currently capped at $875,000 for a single claim, or $1,093,750 for a wrongful death claim made by two or more surviving class members.
Why a Cap?
You might be asking yourself, why is there a cap on damages, and how is this fair to an injured plaintiff? Opinions vary, particularly between plaintiff attorneys and defense counsel, on whether or not this cap is reasonable. Insurance companies push for these limits to keep costs down and to minimize the chance of losing enormous amounts of money.
Steps to Take for Medical Wrongdoing
Every situation is unique, and the road to seeking justice for medical malpractice will vary. However, we discuss four steps in a medical professional’s typical path to justice for injuries.
Step 1: Legal Consultation
Suppose you underwent a medical procedure and have a nagging suspicion that something is wrong. In that case, you should trust that instinct and seek the advice of a trusted medical malpractice attorney.
Here you can discuss your situation, what happened to you, and if you have legal recourse. After a detailed and thorough initial consultation, you should better understand the medical malpractice process and what you might expect from your case.
Step 2: Gather Records and Evidence
Once you decide to proceed with a medical malpractice claim, it is time to gather records and collect evidence.
Your attorney will help with this process, and you may be asked to sign authorization forms permitting your medical providers to release records to your attorney. It is also helpful to have copies of receipts for any medical expenses you have acquired thus far.
Step 3: File a Lawsuit and Begin Discovery
Once you have identified potential defendants, your attorney will file your complaint with the court. This officially begins the legal case. Medical malpractice cases usually involve extensive discovery, including exchanging records and documents, consulting experts, taking depositions, and more.
A crucial step in a Maryland med mal case is submitting a certificate of a qualified expert.
Under Maryland law, a plaintiff must obtain a certificate from a qualified medical expert illustrating a reasonable basis for their claim. It must be filed within 90 days of filing your claim in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office, and you must do so to ensure your case is not dismissed.
The parties will engage in motion practice and settlement negotiations throughout the discovery process and up to trial. Most medical malpractice cases settle before trial. However, some do not.
Step 4: Trial and Verdict
If the parties cannot settle, the case will proceed to trial, in which the plaintiff must prove their case. Once both sides present their evidence, the patient will go to the jury.
If you are successful, the jury will award damages in your favor. The best chance for success is to have skilled, seasoned counsel fighting for you in court.
Maryland Medical Wrongdoing Attorneys
Absolute devastation comes with being injured by a doctor you trusted. At Baird Mandalas Brockstedt & Federico, LLC, we are dedicated and experienced medical malpractice attorneys committed to helping our clients seek the compensation they deserve after a medical error.
Contact us to schedule your initial consultation.