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State Supreme Court Holds Evidence of Marijuana Use Admissible in Medical Malpractice Case

law libraryIn every Maryland medical malpractice case, there are specific rules governing which evidence is admissible at trial, and a failure to adhere to these rules can significantly affect your case. If you or someone close to you has been injured as a result of medical malpractice, it is imperative to have a seasoned Baltimore medical malpractice attorney on your side. At Arfaa Law Group, we will be vigilant about every detail in your case, including deadlines and the parameters of all applicable procedural rules. We know the stakes are high, and you can rest assured that we will be diligent at every step of the way.

Earlier this year, in the case of Hineman v. Imber, the Supreme Court of Delaware addressed the admissibility of evidence of a plaintiff’s marijuana use on the day of his injury and misdiagnosis in a claim for medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice takes place when a health care provider fails to use reasonable care when treating a patient. In order to succeed on a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff must establish the following elements:  i) the health care provider owed a duty of care to the patient; ii) the duty of care owed to the patient was breached by the health care provider (i.e., the health care provider failed to abide by the standard of care normally used in their specialty); iii) the health care provider’s breach was a direct cause of the injury to the patient; and iv) the patient or their loved ones incurred damages.

Here, the plaintiff argued that the testimony pertaining to the plaintiff’s marijuana use went beyond its permitted purpose and prejudiced the jury that ruled against him.

The court ruled that evidence of a plaintiff’s marijuana use is admissible because it is relevant to a plaintiff’s perception of injury, and there was no evidence to suggest that the relevance was outweighed by improper prejudice, such that its exclusion was warranted under the Delaware rules of evidence. The court also explained that the plaintiff’s own lawyer referred to the marijuana use in a “loose way” during trial.

Furthermore, the plaintiff failed to object when marijuana evidence was used for a reason not clearly addressed in his prior objection. This failure, according to the court, made the standard of review that of “plain error,” and in this case, no error had occurred.

In Maryland, Md. Rule 5-403 can be used to preclude testimony if its “probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.”

Medical malpractice claims are complicated. At Arfaa Law Group, our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys understand the nuances of this area of law, which can make all the difference in a case. Being attentive to the evidentiary rules allows an experienced lawyer to strategize properly. You can rest assured that we provide aggressive yet personalized representation to each and every one of our clients. We proudly represent people throughout Maryland. To discuss your case in more detail, feel free to call 410-889-1850 or contact us online.

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