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A Guide to the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases in Maryland

Have you been injured due to a doctor or surgeon’s negligence? If so, you may have a valid medical malpractice claim for compensation. As the victim of medical malpractice, it is crucial that you keep an eye on the calendar. There are specific deadlines when it comes to filing personal injury lawsuits called statutes of limitations. If you fail to submit your lawsuit within the appropriate statute of limitations, your case will be dismissed, and you will lose the right to recover compensation. The amount of time each plaintiff has depends on the type of case involved.

How Long Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Maryland?

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits in Maryland is between three and five years. You will need to file your personal injury lawsuit within five years when the injury occurred or three years of the date that you discovered the injury, whichever occurs first. Your medical malpractice lawsuit needs to be filed within five years of the injury occurring. 

If you know that you have been injured when the injury occurs, you will only have five years to file your medical malpractice lawsuit. This may seem like a long amount of time, but medical malpractice lawsuits are complex, and your attorney will need as much time as possible to investigate your case and gather evidence. The sooner you speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, the better.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule. First, if a child becomes injured due to medical malpractice, the statute of limitation will not start until the child reaches 18, regardless of how old the child was when the injury occurred. For example, if a doctor prescribed the wrong type of medication for a 5-year-old child, resulting in lifelong complications, the statute of limitations would not begin until the child turned 18. As a result, the child would have until he or she turns 21 to file a medical malpractice claim.

 

What is an “Injury”?

The Maryland statute of limitation is somewhat straightforward. However, defining what constitutes an injury can be challenging. What constitutes an injury? The language in the statute of limitations law does not clearly define what an injury is, but the injury is what triggers the statute of limitations clock to begin running. Figuring out when you suffered an injury is a critically important step to recovering compensation. 

When you are trying to determine when a personal injury occurred, you should ask yourself whether you have suffered harm with compensable damages. In other words, the statute of limitations begins running when the patient becomes injured in a legally cognizable way. For example, negligent drivers have a duty to drive reasonably safe under the conditions. When a driver breaches that duty and causes an accident that results in another person’s injury, they can be held liable for compensation by the injured victim. The victim of a car accident has a legally cognizable harm as soon as he or she becomes injured. As a result, the statute of limitations begins to tick when a car accident happens, and the victim is injured.

 

What Constitutes a “Legally Cognizable” Harm in Medical Malpractice Cases?

Medical malpractice cases are not always as straightforward as car accident cases, however. In a medical malpractice case, the victim may not even know he or she has been injured. Or, the victim may realize he or she has been injured but does not know that the doctor caused the injury at first. Due to the complex nature of medical malpractice cases, courts will give plaintiffs additional time to file a lawsuit if they did not know what caused their injury at first. 

The statute of limitations will begin to tick down as soon as the medical malpractice victim knows that he or she has suffered legally cognizable harm. For example, when a doctor leaves a sponge in the patient’s body during surgery, the patient has suffered a “legally cognizable” harm. Leaving a sponge inside a patient is an act of negligence that breaches the doctor’s duty to provide reasonable care for the patient. The minute the doctor sews up a patient without removing the sponge, the patient has a legally cognizable harm.

 

Birth Injury Cases

Birth injury cases are some of the most devastating types of medical malpractice cases. Giving birth is a dangerous process, and doctors must use reasonable care when attending to expectant mothers. When doctors breach their duty of care by acting negligently or recklessly, the mother and the baby can suffer lifelong, catastrophic injuries. Birth injuries can cause cerebral palsy and ischemia, which causes brain damage. How long does a child injured from a birth injury have to file a medical malpractice claim in Maryland?

As with other types of medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations for a child who suffered a birth injury does not start until the child turns 18. The child will have until he or she turns 21 to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Even though children who were injured in medical malpractice cases have a longer statute of limitations, it is not always the best strategy to wait until the child is older to speak with an attorney. Filing a claim for compensation before the child turns 18 can help families survive financially and obtain all of the medical care the child needs.

 

About Brian Bishop

Brian Bishop started the Bishop Law Group in October 2018. Mr. Bishop is in active member of Maryland Association of Justice, The American Association of Justice, The Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys. Mr. Bishop has received a nationally ranked Top 40 Under 40 Attorney award since 2017. Mr. Bishop has also been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers. The American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys has named Brian Bishop as one of The 10 Best Attorneys for Outstanding Client Services.

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