Court Discusses Defenses in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

Doctors faced with claims that they committed medical malpractice will often deny liability. In some instances, they will assert that other factors caused the plaintiff’s injuries and may go so far as to argue that the plaintiff is responsible for the harm they allegedly suffered.  As demonstrated in a recent Maryland birth injury case, however, the argument that the plaintiff assumed the risk of harm is not valid in a medical malpractice case. If your child suffered harm at birth due to the negligence of a doctor, it is advisable to contact a skilled Maryland medical malpractice lawyer to discuss what evidence you must produce to recover compensation.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff mother presented to the labor and delivery unit of a hospital when she was thirty-three weeks pregnant. At the time, she had high blood pressure and was experiencing vaginal bleeding. The defendant induced labor, but after four hours, she noticed the fetus’s heart rate was dropping. As such, she made the decision to perform a non-emergency cesarean section. She began to perform the procedure, but seven minutes passed between the time she made the incision in the uterus and when the infant was delivered.

Allegedly, the infant was born without a heart rate and needed 22 minutes of resuscitation. Tragically, he passed away a short time later. The plaintiff mother filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant on behalf of herself and the infant’s estate. The defendant argued that the plaintiff assumed the risk of harm and was contributorily negligent, and the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on the issues.

Defenses in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

The defendant did not oppose the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, but the court nonetheless examined whether it was appropriate to grant the motion. The court explained that the defense of assumption of the risk was not viable in a medical malpractice case, as there was almost no factual scenario that would support the defense. In other words, in order for a person to assume a risk, they must have knowledge and appreciation of the risk but voluntarily accept that it could occur.

In the context of medical care, then, the assumption of the risk would mean that the plaintiff would have had to knowingly accept the possibility that the defendant would negligently perform a procedure. Such circumstances would almost never occur, however, and therefore the court found it was not a viable defense. While contributory negligence could be asserted as a defense in a medical malpractice case, it required the defendant to show that they gave the plaintiff instructions they refused to follow. As there were no facts that would support a contributory negligence defense in the subject case, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion.

Meet with a Capable Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

Suffering the loss of a child at birth can shatter a family. If you lost a child due to medical negligence, you may be owed significant damages, and it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to assess your options for seeking justice. The capable Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are mindful of the devastation caused by a child’s death, and if you hire us, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can reach us through our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.




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