Maryland Court Allows Evidence of Non-Party in Negligence Case

If you or someone close to you has been hurt because of a medical professional’s carelessness, error, or wrongdoing, our diligent Baltimore health care malpractice attorneys can help. At Arfaa Law Group, we understand the nuances of this area of the law and can put our knowledge to use in your case. We are here to answer your questions and address your concerns at every step of the way.

Medical malpractice cases in Maryland and across the United States are about establishing fault on the part of a medical professional. In litigation, there are many tactics that the plaintiff and defense can use to build their case. The Court of Appeals of Maryland, Maryland’s highest court, recently had to decide if evidence regarding the negligence of several non-parties should have been admitted at trial. The court ultimately held that the negligence of the non-parties was properly admitted because it was essential to give the defendant physician a fair trial. Put another way, the defendant, who was generally denying malpractice in a claim, could present evidence of a non-party’s negligence and causation as an affirmative defense.

In the case at hand, a man died as a result of a fatal stroke that he suffered in 2010. The man’s estate and widow filed a medical malpractice claim against the defendant radiologist and three subsequent treating physicians, claiming that their negligence led to the man suffering the stroke. However, before the trial, each of the other named defendants settled the case outside court. Thus, the case was only against one remaining defendant.

Before the trial, the plaintiffs had filed motions in limine seeking to exclude all of the evidence relating to the subsequent treating physicians’ prior statuses as defendants or pre-trial settlements of claims against them in the case, since they were no longer parties to the trial. The plaintiffs also sought to prevent the defendant from raising a defense that the negligence of the subsequent treating physicians was a superseding cause of the patient’s death. The trial court denied the plaintiffs’ motion in limine. The plaintiffs appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, explaining that evidence of non-party negligence was relevant to show that the defendant was not negligent. Additionally, causation was an issue for the jury to decide, and the alleged prejudice of this evidence did not outweigh its probative value. Put simply, excluding this evidence would disallow the defendant to defend himself fairly in the case.

If you have been injured by a medical professional’s negligence, we can evaluate your case and help you seek the compensation you deserve for your harm. At Arfaa Law Group, our Baltimore radiology malpractice attorneys have the skill, dedication, and experience to handle your claim. You can rest assured that we will make every effort to settle your case, and if we cannot do that, we will vigorously advocate for your rights at trial. To get a free evaluation of your case, call 410-889-1850 or contact us online.

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