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Statute Of Limitations In A Medical Malpractice Case

Medical malpractice cases in Maryland are governed by a complex set of statutes and precedents that define not only when a claim can be initiated but also the intricacies involved in pursuing such claims. Understanding these limitations is crucial for anyone considering legal action for malpractice, as failing to adhere to these guidelines can result in the forfeiture of the right to seek compensation.

Where Does the Statute Of Limitations Come From?

They are part of the laws of Maryland and DC. These time limits have been part of our law for a very long time. Their purpose is to create some finality so that a doctor or hospital does not have the threat of a lawsuit hanging over their heads. Over time, documents can be lost and witnesses have faded memory, can no longer be located, or die. It is only fair to allow a doctor or hospital to defend itself within a reasonable period of time.

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims

Under Maryland law (Courts & Judicial Proceedings 5-109), most medical malpractice claims must be filed within the shorter of five years after the occurrence of the malpractice or three years after the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered the injury. This dual deadline system is designed to accommodate the reality that some injuries or damages caused by malpractice may not be immediately apparent.

For example, if a patient develops a serious infection following surgery, they likely have three years from the point of discovering the infection to file a claim, assuming they could reasonably link the infection to the surgical procedure. However, in all cases, a claim must be filed within a maximum of five years from the date the malpractice occurred, irrespective of when the injury was discovered, barring certain exceptions.

Special Considerations for Minors

Maryland law provides special consideration for minors who suffer injuries due to medical malpractice. Typically, the statute of limitations does not begin until the minor turns 18 years of age. Therefore, injured minors may have until their 21st birthday to initiate a lawsuit, a provision that acknowledges the vulnerability and dependence of children on adults for recognizing and acting upon medical errors.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In cases of wrongful death resulting from medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the deceased person's death. This period is intended to give the bereaved family time to grieve before needing to engage with the legal system, though it also necessitates timely action once the decision to pursue a claim is made.

My Doctor Said I Would Get Better-Does That Stop The Statute Of Limitations?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. The law does not make an exception if your doctor tells you that you may get better. So it is important that you consult a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your medical malpractice case to prevent the deadlines from running out on you. 

My Experience

For over 30 years, I have helped those who have been injured by medical malpractice. When you call, you will speak with me personally. Please watch the video below for more information about statutes of limitations.

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