Maryland Court Declines to Toll Statute of Limitations in Psychiatric Malpractice Case

People suffering from mental illnesses often require medication to manage their symptoms and enable them to lead typical lives. Thus, if a doctor fails to prescribe a patient necessary psychiatric medication and the patient suffers harm as a result, it may constitute medical malpractice. In Maryland, medical malpractice claims generally must be filed within three years of the date of the alleged injury. While the statute of limitations can be tolled for certain reasons, such as the plaintiff’s mental incapacity, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving it would be unjust to bar claims as untimely, as discussed in a recent Maryland psychiatric malpractice case. If you were hurt by a negligent mental health professional, it is in your best interest to speak to a Maryland psychiatric malpractice lawyer about your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

It is reported that the plaintiff was released from a medical center without necessary psychiatric medication. The defendant was the head liaison for the center. The plaintiff subsequently suffered severe withdrawal symptoms, which he argued led to erratic behavior and his subsequent arrest and incarceration. Thus, he filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging his negligent care caused the plaintiff to suffer irreparable harm. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, but the court denied it. After discovery, he moved for dismissal via summary judgment, arguing the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations for Equitable Reasons

After reviewing the pleadings and discovery, the court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for the plaintiff’s claims was three years from the date of the occurrence. The court explained that the date of accrual of a claim arises occurs when the plaintiff has sufficient facts about the harm he suffered so that a reasonable inquiry will reveal his cause of action. The statute of limitations may be tolled, however, if factors other than the plaintiff’s conduct would make it unconscionable to enforce the limitations period.

Equitable tolling of the statute of limitations will not be granted in a case in which the plaintiff has not diligently protected his own rights, however. Instead, the plaintiff has to establish he was prevented from exercising those rights. The court noted that Maryland allows for the statute of limitations to be tolled for mental incompetence, which is the inability of a person to understand that he has a legal cause of action and take the measures necessary to file the action. Here, the court found that the plaintiff offered no evidence in support of the assertion that he was mentally incompetent or that he lacked knowledge of the facts out of which his claim arose. Thus, the court found that the statute of limitations should not be tolled and granted the defendant’s motion.

Meet with an Experienced Maryland Attorney

Many people need psychiatric treatment to maintain their mental health, but if the care they are provided is inadequate, it may harm them instead of helping. If you suffered losses due to psychiatric malpractice, it is smart to meet with an attorney about your options for seeking redress. The experienced Baltimore lawyers of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue the maximum amount of compensation recoverable under the law. We can be reached via our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.


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