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Court Discusses Dismissal for Failure to File a Timely Medical Malpractice Complaint in Maryland

Maryland has specific laws regarding the procedures a person must comply with in the pursuit of damages for medical malpractice. If an injured party fails to comply with the requirements, it may result in a dismissal of the claim. However, a failure to abide by the proper procedure does not result in an automatic dismissal. Recently, a Maryland court discussed what a defendant must establish to show that a plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawsuit should be dismissed due to the failure to abide by procedure in a case in which the plaintiff alleged he suffered harm because of malpractice committed in a rehabilitation facility. If you were harmed by the inadequate medical treatment, you might be owed compensation, and it is prudent to speak to a capable Maryland medical malpractice attorney regarding what steps you must take to protect your rights.

Factual History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was admitted to the defendant rehabilitation facility following hip replacement surgery. He subsequently developed pressure ulcers in multiple locations due to the defendant’s negligence and ultimately required an amputation of his right leg below the knee. The plaintiff instituted his medical malpractice action against the defendant by filing a claim with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (the Office) as required under Maryland law.

The law also requires that after a claim is filed with the Office, the parties must file a certificate of a qualified expert and an attesting report, after which a party can waive the right to arbitration with the office. After arbitration is waived, the plaintiff must file a complaint in the civil courts within 60 days. In this case, however, the plaintiff did not file the complaint until five months after the 60 day period had run. Thus, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint as untimely. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Dismissal for Failing to File a Timely Complaint

Under Maryland law, when arbitration is waived in a medical malpractice claim, the failure to file a complaint within 60 days of the election to waive arbitration may be grounds for dismissal upon the motion of the defendant, and a finding of prejudice to the defendant due to the delay in filing the complaint. In the subject case, the trial court adopted the defendant’s reasoning that the plaintiff waited five years from the time the negligence occurred to file the complaint, which it deemed a substantial delay. The appellate court found this to be erroneous, noting that the delay should only be assessed from the time the waiver of the right to arbitration was filed. Further, the appellate court found that the defendant failed to establish prejudice, as it was in no less of a favorable position than it would have been if the complaint was timely. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Confer with a Seasoned Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured due to incompetent medical treatment, it is important to retain an attorney who will protect your interests by complying with procedural deadlines. The seasoned Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are skilled at helping people seek compensation in medical malpractice lawsuits. If you retain our services, we will work tirelessly to help you seek a just outcome. We can be reached through our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.

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