Court Discusses Waivers in Medical Malpractice Cases

Doctors often make patients sign consent forms before they render treatment. Many people sign such forms without reading the terms, which in some cases results in the unwitting waiver of the right to pursue claims against the doctor. Merely because a party signs a blanket waiver does not automatically mean they will be precluded from filing medical malpractice claims, though, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland case. If you suffered harm due to a carelessly performed procedure, you have the right to seek compensation, and you should speak to a trusted Maryland medical malpractice lawyer about your potential claims.

The Facts and History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff sought treatment from the defendant due to blurry vision. The defendant asked the plaintiff a few questions but only performed a cursory examination. The plaintiff returned to the defendant’s office three weeks later with similar complaints. The defendant examined him and determined he was suffering from a detached retina and needed emergency surgery.

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent the procedure but suffered permanent injuries in his left eye. He subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant removed the case to federal court and then filed a motion to dismiss or alternatively a motion for summary judgment.

Waivers in Medical Malpractice Cases

In support of his motion, the defendant argued that the plaintiff’s action was barred due to a liability waiver he executed prior to treatment and attached a copy of the waiver to the motion. The court explained that the alleged waiver was not part of the pleadings or incorporated by reference into the pleadings. As such, the defendant was asserting that the case should be dismissed under the summary judgment standard.

The court rejected the defendant’s reasoning, explaining that the federal courts have routinely held that summary judgment is only appropriate after the parties have had an adequate opportunity to conduct discovery. In other words, it is premature to grant judgment in favor of a party as a matter of law if the parties have not had a full opportunity to conduct discovery.

In the subject case, as the case was in the initial pleading stage, the parties had not conducted any discovery.  Further, there were numerous factual issues in dispute, including when the plaintiff signed the alleged release. As such, the court found that the defendant’s motion for summary judgment was premature and dismissed it without prejudice.

Speak to a Trusted Maryland Attorney

People harmed by incompetent medical care can often recover damages from their negligent providers in a medical malpractice lawsuit, but such providers rarely admit liability. If you sustained injuries because of the negligence of a doctor, you should speak to an attorney about your options. The trusted Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of obtaining a favorable outcome. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.

Contact Information