Court Discusses the Discovery Rule in Medical Malpractice Cases

People that suffer adverse consequences due to inadequate medical care will often seek compensation via medical malpractice claims. In order for their claims to proceed, they must file them within the applicable statute of limitations. There are circumstances that allow for the tolling of the statute of limitations, however. For example, as demonstrated in a recent medical malpractice case, the discovery rule applied to toll the statute of limitations when the plaintiff’s doctor misled her regarding her symptoms. If you were hurt by an improperly performed procedure, it is advisable to confer with a Maryland medical malpractice lawyer promptly.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that in 2008, the plaintiff sought treatment from the defendant due to headaches. The defendant recommended a surgical procedure, advising that it would relieve the pain but cause numbness behind each ear. The plaintiff underwent the procedure but was left with severe, disabling pain.

It is alleged, however, that the doctor assured the person that her condition was not unusual and that some people require a second surgery. The plaintiff decided against a further procedure. She was unaware of any wrongdoing until she searched online for articles about the doctor and discovered that other people had filed lawsuits for medical malpractice for similar surgery. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant in 2016, asserting medical malpractice, lack of informed consent, and negligence claims. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims on the grounds that they were prohibited by the statute of limitations.

The Discovery Rule in Medical Malpractice Cases

The court granted the motion in part and denied it in part. The court explained that under the discovery rule, a claim doesn’t accrue at the time of injury but when the plaintiff knows or should know of the injury, its cause, and evidence of wrongdoing. The court found that the plaintiff’s lack-of-informed-consent claim began when she was told after surgery that worsened pain was not unexpected, despite being told before surgery that the only disadvantage was a small area of numbness.

The plaintiff did not provide any evidence to suggest that this information was insufficient to put her on notice of her worsened pain, its cause, and the defendant’s failure to warn her about the risk of worsened pain. Thus, pursuant to the discovery rule, that is when the statute of limitations began to run, and the court granted the defendant’s motion as to the lack of informed consent claims.

As to the negligence claim, however, the plaintiff’s alleged that the defendant misled her about the risks of a procedure, which the court found could toll the statute of limitations on her medical malpractice and negligence claims against the defendant. The court acknowledged that this question was highly fact-bound and would depend on whether the alleged inconsistency between the promised and actual results of the surgery was sufficient to put the plaintiff on inquiry notice. As such, it denied the defendant’s motion as to the medical malpractice and negligence claims,

Meet with a Dedicated Maryland Attorney

People harmed by medical malpractice have the right to seek damages for their losses, but if they fail to file their claims within the statute of limitations, they may be dismissed, regardless of the strength of their evidence. If you sustained damages because of negligence medical care, it is advisable to meet with an attorney to assess your options. The dedicated Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can assess the facts of your case and aid you in seeking a just outcome. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.

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