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Court Explains Expert Qualifications in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

Maryland medical malpractice claims typically hinge on the strength of the plaintiff’s medical expert’s opinion. If a plaintiff’s expert is precluded from testifying, therefore, it is unlikely that the plaintiff will be able to recover any damages. However, only certain parties are permitted to offer expert testimony and proposed experts who do not possess the requisite qualifications may be barred from offering testimony. This was illustrated in a recent Maryland medical malpractice case in which a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff was reversed after the trial court ruled the plaintiff’s expert should have been barred from testifying. If you sustained harm due to an improperly performed medical procedure, you should speak to a dedicated Maryland medical malpractice attorney regarding what evidence you need to recover compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Expert

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s husband died due to complications following a surgical procedure that the defendant performed. She subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant and filed a certificate of a qualified expert. The certificate set forth that the expert would testify that the defendant breached the standard of care, which led to the plaintiff’s husband’s death, and that no more than twenty percent of the expert’s activities each year were related to providing expert testimony, as required under Maryland law.

Reportedly, during discovery, the defendant sought documentation regarding the expert’s activities and income in order to determine whether he was in compliance with Maryland’s twenty percent rule. The expert denied that he kept documentation that specifically monitored his activities but again verified his compliance with the rule. During the trial, the defendant objected to the plaintiff calling her expert due to his failure to prove compliance with the twenty percent rule. The court allowed the expert to testify, but following a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff, reconsidered and issued a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The plaintiff appealed.

Maryland’s Medical Expert Qualifications

On appeal, the plaintiff argued the trial court abused its discretion in ruling that her expert could not testify. The appellate court disagreed, noting that a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case bears the burden of producing evidence adequate to convince the court that the expert did not spend more than twenty percent of his professional activities each year to conduct that directly involved testifying in personal injury claims.

The court further explained that in assessing whether an expert meets the twenty percent requirement, a court must perform a mathematical equation by identifying those activities related to testifying in personal injury lawsuits and dividing the number of those activities by the expert’s professional activities in general. Thus, the court needs sufficient facts to perform the calculation. In the subject case, the appellate court affirmed that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that her expert was in compliance with the twenty percent rule. As such, the trial court’s ruling was affirmed.

Speak to a Trusted Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were injured or lost a loved one because of a careless physician, you may be able to recover compensation and should speak to an attorney. The trusted Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group take pride in helping people harmed by the negligence of health care providers fight to protect their interests, and we will work diligently on your behalf. You can reach us through our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to schedule a conference.

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