Maryland Court Determines Virginia’s Laws Apply in a Medical Malpractice Case

Typically, people pursuing medical malpractice claims will file their lawsuits in the state where their harm occurred, but that is not always the case. While plaintiffs generally have the right to determine where to file their lawsuits, when the court presiding over a matter sits in a different state than where the cause of action arose, there may be a dispute over which state’s laws apply. Recently, a Maryland court faced this issue, ultimately determining that the application of Virginia rather than Maryland law was appropriate. If you were harmed by a healthcare provider, you may be owed damages, and you should consult a Maryland medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

Factual Background

It is reported that the defendant performed a liposuction procedure on the plaintiff in the defendant’s office in Virginia. The plaintiff subsequently suffered permanent physical and emotional injuries. She filed a lawsuit against the defendant and other entities in Maryland, alleging breach of the standard of care and lack of informed consent. After a five-day trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her substantial damages. The court then capped the damages, pursuant to Maryland law. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in applying Maryland’s law on the limitation of non-economic damages when the failure to obtain informed consent and the medical malpractice occurred in Virginia.

Determining Which State’s Laws Apply in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the plaintiff asserted that Maryland adhered to the principle of lex loci delicti, which applied the substantive law of the place where the harm was done. She argued that the harm, including the lack of informed consent, the pain caused during the procedure, and the infection from the surgery, took place in Virginia.


Conversely, the defendants contended that Maryland law should apply because there was no specific jury finding that the plaintiff suffered an injury in Virginia. They claimed that even if the bacteria that caused the plaintiff’s infection entered her body during the procedure, there was no evidence of immediate injury in Virginia. They asserted that Maryland was where the injury occurred because that is where the plaintiff showed signs of infection.

The court followed the principle of lex loci delicti, and concluded that a cause of action for medical negligence arose where the injury first came into existence. In this case, the evidence suggested that the plaintiff was injured during the surgery in Virginia, as the bacteria that caused the infection was introduced at that time. Therefore, Virginia law applied to determine the recoverable damages.

Confer with a Skilled Maryland Attorney

Although a party pursuing a medical malpractice claim does not necessarily have to file their lawsuit in the state where the harm occurred, that state’s laws may nonetheless apply. If you sustained losses because of negligently rendered medical care, it is smart to confer with an attorney about your possible claims. The skilled Maryland lawyers of Arfaa Law Group are well-versed in what it takes to prevail in medical malpractice cases, and if you hire us, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a consultation.

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