Court Explains Timeliness of Objections in Medical Malpractice Cases

In medical malpractice cases, parties not only have to establish their respective positions but also must abide by any applicable rules of procedure. If they fail to do so, they may waive the right to assert claims or defenses. This was illustrated in a recent opinion issued in a medical malpractice case in which the court ruled that the defendant’s objection to the timeliness of the plaintiff’s appeal was itself untimely. If you suffered harm due to negligent medical care, it is advisable to contact a Maryland medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to avoid waiving your right to pursue claims.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff underwent abdominal surgeries at the defendant’s hospital in 2016 and 2017. Following the surgeries, she suffered numerous issues, including swelling and pain. She asserted that the defendant’s doctors performed unnecessary procedures and submitted a complaint to the hospital’s patient advocate seeking compensation, but it denied her request.

Allegedly, the plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant. The court dismissed it with prejudice, and she appealed. She sought to appeal the dismissal but did not file her notice within the time required, and the court dismissed it as untimely. She then sought leave to file a new medical malpractice complaint against the defendant. The court denied her motion, and she appealed. The defendant objected to her appeal as untimely.

Timeliness of Objections in Medical Malpractice Cases

While the court ultimately denied the plaintiff’s appeal, it ruled that the defendant had forfeited its right to object to the appeal as untimely. The court explained that the defendant’s assertion that the plaintiff failed to abide by the timeframe for filing an appeal in a civil case was inaccurate, given the manner in which her motion was signed and her pro se status.

The court elaborated that the rule setting forth the timeframe for appeals was not jurisdictional but was a required claim-processing rule. In other words, it must be enforced by the court if properly invoked, but if it is not correctly raised, the application of the rule is subject to forfeiture. As such, the court assessed whether the defendant properly invoked the rule. In doing so, it noted that the defendant did not invoke the issue of timelines until 15 months after the plaintiff filed her appeal. The court, therefore, found that the defendant did not properly raise the issue of timeliness. It did, however, deny the plaintiff’s appeal on other grounds.

Talk to a Trusted Maryland Attorney

People injured by incompetent doctors have the right to pursue medical malpractice claims, but if they do not act promptly, their claims may be rejected regardless of whether they are valid. If you were hurt by inadequate medical care, it is in your best interest to talk to an attorney. The trusted Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your rights and assist you in seeking any compensation you may be owed. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a meeting.

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