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Court Discusses Medical Malpractice Claims Under the Maryland Tort Claims Act

While some medical malpractice claims involve straightforward facts, in other instances, the circumstances surrounding a party’s harm are complicated, and it is not immediately clear who is responsible or what steps are necessary to pursue damages. Any time a person is harmed by negligent healthcare, however, it is prudent for them the consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect the person’s right to seek recourse for his or her harm. This was shown in a recent Maryland appellate case in which the court affirmed the dismissal of a healthcare malpractice claim on the grounds that it was not filed within the time required under the Maryland Tort Claims Act. If you were injured by a healthcare provider at a government-owned entity, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney to discuss your options for protecting your interests.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that when the minor-plaintiff was fifteen, he was taken into custody by the State Department of Health and ordered to undergo an inpatient evaluation due to self-harming behaviors. While he was admitted to the state facility, it was noted that he had difficulty controlling his impulses, was aggressive, and had a high risk of violence. It was also noted that he posed a danger to himself and to others.

Allegedly, while still in state custody, the minor-plaintiff was placed in a holding cell with other minors and was subsequently involved in an altercation during which he suffered substantial and permanent injuries. The minor-plaintiff and his mother subsequently filed a healthcare malpractice claim against the defendant in the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (HCADRO), after which they waived arbitration and filed a complaint in state court against the defendant. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to file the lawsuit in the time required under the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA). The court agreed, granting the motion, and plaintiffs appealed.

Pursuing Claims Under the Maryland Tort Claims Act

Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, parties cannot pursue claims against the state or state entities without the state’s consent. Notably, however, Maryland has waived the right to sovereign immunity from tort actions via the MTCA. Pursuant to the MTCA, though, any action seeking damages for a tort committed by a state entity must be filed within three years of the date the harm arose. The three-year deadline is considered both a statute of limitations and a condition that must be fulfilled prior to the waiver of sovereign immunity.

In the subject case, the plaintiffs argued that the filing in the HCADRO met the three-year filing requirement imposed by the MCTA. The court rejected this argument, though, as the MCTA explicitly stated that an action, meaning a lawsuit, must be filed within three years, and an HCADRO complaint did not meet that requirement. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Confer with a Skillful Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm due to inadequate treatment by a healthcare provider, it is advisable to confer with a skillful Maryland medical malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims and what damages you may be owed. The zealous attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are proficient at aiding parties injured by negligent medical care in the pursuit of damages and we will work tirelessly to help you seek a just outcome. We can be reached via the online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a free and confidential meeting.

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