Court Discusses Inquiry Notice in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

In Maryland, people injured by the negligence of healthcare providers have the right to pursue medical malpractice claims. They must do so within the time proscribed by the statute of limitations, however, otherwise, their claim may be dismissed. As discussed in a recent Maryland ruling, the statutory period generally begins to run when the plaintiff knows or has reason to know of their claim. If you were injured by improperly rendered medical care, it is smart to speak to a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer promptly to avoid waiving your right to recover damages.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant performed hip replacement surgery on the plaintiff in April 2010. The plaintiff experienced pain and complications immediately after the procedure. She continued to treat with a different orthopedic surgeon, who, in December 2010, opined, recommended revision surgery. In January 2014, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he negligently performed the hip replacement surgery.

Allegedly, the defendant moved for summary judgment asserting that, as a matter of law, the plaintiff had inquiry notice of her claims against him in December 2010, and therefore, her claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The court found in favor of the defendant and granted his motion. The plaintiff appealed.

Inquiry Notice in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling and reinstated the plaintiff’s claims. The court noted that the key issue in this case was when the plaintiff possessed knowledge of circumstances that would cause a reasonable person in her position to begin an investigation that, if pursued in a reasonably diligent manner, would have led to the discovery of the alleged cause of action.

The Maryland statute of limitations for professional liability claims against healthcare providers provides a discovery rule. Under the discovery rule, a cause of action accrues when the patient discovers, or should have discovered, that they have a cause of action.

In the subject case, the defendant argued that the date by which the plaintiff was clearly on notice that something was wrong with her hip was December 2010, when she reviewed her x-rays with her new orthopedic surgeon. However, that doctor did not indicate in December 2010 that malpractice by the defendant was a likely or possible cause of her problem. Instead, the doctor told the plaintiff that the displacement of the prosthetic required revision surgery, which was one of the known risks of which the defendant had warned her. Thus, considering the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the court concluded that her claim was not barred by the statute of limitations.

Confer with a Seasoned Maryland Attorney

The Maryland courts strictly construe the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims; thus, anyone hurt by the carelessness of a doctor must act promptly; otherwise, they may lose the right to seek compensation. The seasoned Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are well-versed in what it takes to succeed in medical malpractice claims, and if you were hurt by a negligent doctor, they can aid you in pursuing any compensation you may be owed. You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.

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