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Maryland Court Holds Expert Witness Needed in Medical Malpractice Case – Hannon v. Mercy

courtroomIn Hannon v. Mercy Med. Ctr., Inc., the plaintiffs, surviving sons of the deceased, filed a medical malpractice claim on their own behalf and on behalf of their father’s estate, alleging that the doctor and hospital that treated the deceased failed to adhere to the standard of care required of medical professionals in Maryland.

Medical malpractice claims are rooted in the theory of negligence. Negligence refers to the failure of an individual or entity to use the level of care and caution an ordinary person would use in the same or similar circumstances. That failure to use the appropriate level of care and caution must result in harm in order for negligence to be established. In the context of medical malpractice, medical negligence refers to the failure of a health care provider to use the level of care that another health care provider in the same specialty would use in the same situation. For example, a nurse’s conduct would be compared to another nurse’s conduct in the same situation.

After the plaintiffs’ repeated failures to comply with discovery requests and their supposed lack of cooperation with their lawyers in handling the case, the attorneys communicated their intent to withdraw as counsel as permitted under Maryland Rule 2-132(b). This took place three months prior to trial. The court granted the lawyers’ request to withdraw.

The plaintiffs were not able to get a new lawyer before the trial. As a result, they could not bring forth a single expert witness to testify at trial, and the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs were not able to make a prima facie case for medical negligence, since they needed the testimony of an expert to establish their claim. The court granted the defendants’ motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

The Maryland Appellate Court noted that it is well established that a plaintiff in a complicated medical malpractice lawsuit is required to introduce expert testimony to show that the medical professional breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff. In the case at hand, the decedent had a past of complicated medical issues before the alleged negligence took place. The court found that the propriety of the defendant’s medical treatment would not be known to the ordinary layperson, nor would any causation issues be matters of average understanding. The court concluded that expert witness testimony was crucial at trial to establish the standard of care and causation, which was central to the plaintiffs’ claims. As a result, the appeals court determined that the trial court correctly granted summary judgment to the defendants.

If you have suffered injuries as the result of medical negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm. At Arfaa Law Group, we understand how frustrating and painful an incident of medical malpractice can be, which is why we offer the utmost compassion in each case. Over the years, we have earned a stellar reputation due to our attention to detail. For more information about your case, do not hesitate to call 410-889-1850 or contact us online.

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