Just like anyone else, medical providers sometimes make mistakes on the job. While some mistakes may be minor and cause no real harm, major errors can have disastrous outcomes. As a patient, you expect to receive quality care; when you don’t, you may suddenly find yourself facing months’ worth – or even years’ worth – of negative consequences.
Even if it seems obvious that your doctor made a mistake, determining whether or not you have a medical malpractice case is not easy. Not every medical mistake constitutes medical malpractice. Additionally, even if your doctor committed malpractice, this alone isn’t enough—you must be able to prove it in order to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
The Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at The Bishop Law Group have extensive experience in these complex cases. Our law firm understands the intricacies of Maryland law and have the knowledge, skill, and resources necessary to pursue the maximum compensation to which you may be entitled.
4 Key Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim in Baltimore
It’s important to understand that not every error made by a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional constitutes medical malpractice. Under Maryland law, a patient must be able to establish four key facts (or “elements”) to pursue a claim:
1. You Had a Doctor-Patient Relationship
Pursuing a medical malpractice case in Baltimore requires proof of a doctor-patient relationship. Even if you received bad medical advice from a doctor, without an established doctor-patient relationship, you don’t have a claim. For example, bad advice from an off-duty physician at a cocktail party does not constitute medical malpractice.
The good news is that this element is fairly easy to prove in most cases. If you received care at a doctor’s office or hospital in Baltimore, then you almost certainly had a doctor-patient relationship with your treating physician.
2. Your Doctor Made a Mistake
Pursuing a medical malpractice case requires proof that your doctor made a mistake. This could be a misdiagnosis, a failure to diagnose, or any of a number of other common forms of medical malpractice.
3. Your Doctor Failed to Meet the Requisite Standard of Care
Not only must you be able to prove that your doctor made a mistake, but you must also be able to prove that your doctor failed to meet the requisite standard of care. In Maryland, all doctors have a legal duty to diagnose and treat their patients according to generally-accepted standards of medical practice. If your doctor did everything that any other doctor would have done to provide quality care and still failed, you may not have a claim. But, if other doctors would have avoided your doctor’s mistake, then you could have a claim for medical malpractice.
4. Your Doctor’s Mistake Caused You Harm
The fourth key element of a medical malpractice claim is proof of harm. If your doctor’s mistake was harmless (i.e. if your doctor failed to diagnose a cold and you got better over the weekend), then you do not have any losses to recover. But, if your doctor’s mistake caused you harm—whether physically, psychologically, financially, or all of the above (as is typically the case)—you may be entitled to financial compensation under Maryland law.
Pursuing Justice for Medical Negligence
If you believe you suffered because of a medical professional’s mistake, consider taking the following steps to pursue a medical malpractice claim in Baltimore:
1. Consult with a Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyer
To determine the merits of your case, you will need to discuss your situation with a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer. Handling a complex medical malpractice case on your own can jeopardize your ability to obtain the justice and compensation you deserve. You will want to schedule a free initial consultation promptly, and you should be prepared to share as much information with your lawyer as possible.
2. Get an Opinion from a Medical Expert
If an experienced attorney thinks you may have a case, he or she will typically engage a medical expert to assess your claim. This expert will be a doctor who is familiar with the relevant standard of care, and who will be able to prove an informed opinion about whether your doctor’s mistake rises to the level of medical malpractice under Maryland law.
3. Examining the Costs of Your Doctor’s Malpractice
In addition to determining if you have a claim, you will also need to determine how much you may be able to recover. Your lawyer will need to incur costs on your behalf in order to pursue your case (which you should only have to repay if your case is successful), so you and your lawyer will both need to make sure it is worth moving forward. With that said, the costs of medical malpractice can be substantial, and most claims will be worth pursuing.
4. Make Sure You Still Have Time to File
Finally, you need to make sure you still have time to file. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is between three and five years. In some cases, the statute of limitations can start to run sooner for medical malpractice lawsuits than you might think, so it is best to get started on your claim as soon as possible. If you wait too long to file, you will lose your right to recover just compensation.
Do you have more questions about pursuing a medical malpractice case? If so, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation at The Bishop Law Group. Our attorneys are standing by to help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
Call (410) 390-3101 or contact us online to speak with a medical malpractice lawyer in confidence as soon as possible. The Bishop Law Group serves Baltimore, Ocean City, and other Maryland communities.