Maryland’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Experienced, knowledgeable attorneys helping victims of malpractice seek justice
In every state, for all types of legal actions, there is a statute of limitations attached to that action. A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit for pursuing a legal remedy in relation to a specific cause of action, such as bringing a civil lawsuit or pressing criminal charges. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that legal claims are brought in a timely manner. Statutes of limitations vary depending on the type of legal action and the state in which the claim is brought. In certain circumstances, a statute of limitations can be extended or waived.
What is the statute of limitations for malpractice?
Here in Maryland, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is generally five years from the date of the alleged malpractice, or three years from the date of the discovery of the injury, whichever is shorter. This means that a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice must be filed within five years of the date the alleged malpractice occurred. However, there are some exceptions to this rule:
- If the alleged malpractice was not discovered until after the five-year period has expired, the lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date the malpractice was discovered or within one year of the date that it should have been discovered, whichever is later.
- If the person alleging malpractice is a minor at the time of the alleged malpractice, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of 18. In such cases, the lawsuit must be filed within three years of the minor's 18th birthday.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases can be extremely complex, and typically depends on the specific circumstances of the case. If you believe you or a member of your family has suffered harm from medical malpractice, it is crucial to consult with an experienced Maryland law firm as soon as possible for guidance.
Why do we have statutes of limitations?
Statutes of limitations are important, for both plaintiffs and defendants. Although it may seem a bit unfair that those harmed by negligence only have a certain amount of time to recover damages for their injuries, there is a reason for this. Make no mistake – one of these reasons is due to the medical industry lobby wanting to avoid liability. Working to keep statutes of limitations on malpractice actions short can allow negligent medical professionals to get away with injuring patients, especially when it takes years for these patients to realize how their injuries occurred.
However, shorter statutes of limitations can also work to the advantage of the injured patient. These benefits include:
- Shorter period encourages patients to take action immediately
- Reduces the risk of losing valuable evidence
- Everyone’s memories stay fresh
- Shortened period of discovery, which can reduce litigation costs
If you even suspect you may have been injured by medical malpractice, do not wait. Talk to a Maryland medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible so they can launch an investigation into your case. With Plaxen Adler Muncy, you do not have to worry about any up-front legal costs, as we take medical malpractice cases on a contingency basis. This means that you do not pay any fees until we are successful in recovering compensation for your case.
Exceptions to the Maryland statute of limitations for medical malpractice
Aside from the two exceptions noted above, there are also a few others important to note. Malpractice cases can be tricky, as a patient may not know they are a victim of malpractice until after the statute of limitations has expired. These exceptions can help:
- The Continuous Treatment Rule. Per US Legal, the “continuous treatment doctrine is a principle whereby the limitations period for bringing a medical-malpractice action is tolled while the patient continues treatment that is related to the negligent act or omission.” This means an individual is permitted to put a malpractice claim “on hold” until their course of treatment is completed, in order to prevent any detrimental effects between the physician and patient.
- Legally Cognizable Harm. This legal theory holds that some patients may be unaware they have sustained injury and, even if when they do, they do not realize a physician caused it. The statute of limitations will not begin counting down until the patient recognizes they have suffered injury, or “legally cognizable harm.” An example of legally cognizable harm in a malpractice case is a surgeon leave gauze inside a patient, causing a blockage or infection. That harm occurs as soon as the physician completes the procedure without removing the gauze.
What do Maryland courts consider a malpractice injury?
For a successful medical malpractice action, you and your attorney will need to demonstrate four points. These points will show that your physician acted negligently while providing care, and that this negligence resulted in your injuries and harm. These four elements are:
- You and your physician had a professional relationship, which means that the medical professional owed you a duty of care.
- Your physician’s negligent actions (or lack of action) resulted in a breach of that duty of care.
- That breach of duty caused you injury.
- Those injuries caused you losses and damages.
The court will take into account both economic and non-economic damages when considering your case.
What kinds of medical malpractice cases does your firm handle?
The lawyers at Plaxen Adler Muncy, PA have over three decades of experience helping victims of medical malpractice secure the compensation to which they are entitled. We handle a wide variety of malpractice cases, including:
In the event your loved one dies due to medical malpractice, you have three years to file a wrongful death claim.
Talk to our experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorneys today
Do not miss your chance to file a medical malpractice action if your physician or other medical professional has caused you harm. You only have a specific period in which to file a lawsuit, and if you miss this deadline, you will be barred from taking legal action. To ensure you are able to take proper legal action and secure the compensation to which you are entitled, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Plaxen Adler Muncy.
Call our offices or fill out our contact form to set up a consultation. We have offices throughout the state of Maryland. If necessary, we are available to meet you at your home or at the hospital.