While most people pursue medical malpractice claims with the assistance of attorneys, some are tempted to seek compensation on their own to save money. In many cases, though, the decision to proceed pro se has unfortunate consequences. This was illustrated in a recent opinion in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claims due to her failure to comply with the procedural requirements established by the Federal Tort Claims Act (the Act). If you were injured by medical negligence, it is advisable to contact a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer to assess your options.
The Facts of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff sought treatment at a federally funded medical facility. She alleges she was refused treatment for kidney stones, which ultimately caused her suffering and pain. She instituted a lawsuit against the medical facility without the assistance of an attorney, asserting a negligence claim. The United States moved to substitute itself as a defendant and to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. Upon review of the pleadings, the court granted both motions.
Requirement Imposed by the Federal Tort Claims Act
The court explained that as the medical facility was federally funded and the plaintiff alleged that she was harmed by the facility’s employees while they were working in the scope of their employment, the United States was the proper defendant. The court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims, however, due to her failure to exhaust her administrative remedies as required under the Act.
The federal government typically enjoys sovereign immunity. There are exceptions under the Act, however, for injuries caused by the negligence of federal employees while working in their official capacity. In order to bring a suit under the Act, though, a plaintiff must first satisfy the Act’s exhaustion requirement. Specifically, the Act provides that a claimant must first present their claim to the appropriate federal agency and that agency must deny their claim in writing before the claimant is permitted to proceed with a civil lawsuit.
In other words, as the court explained, a party seeking damages for medical malpractice pursuant to the Act must first exhaust their administrative remedies, and if they fail to do so, it warrants dismissal of their claim. The court elaborated that the exhaustion of administrative remedies is a jurisdictional requirement that cannot be waived.
In the subject case, the plaintiff did not submit her claim to any federal agency prior to filing her lawsuit. Further, the statute of limitations for doing so had passed. Thus, the court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed her case.
Confer with a Trusted Maryland Attorney
People may be wary of the costs of hiring an attorney, but proceeding pro se is often much more costly than paying legal fees. If you are interested in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is in your best interest to confer with an attorney as soon as possible. The trusted Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can inform you of your rights and assist you in pursuing any damages you may be able to recover. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.