Maryland Court Discusses Penalties of Failing to File a Certificate of Qualified Expert and Report in a Timely Manner

There are specific requirements set forth by the Maryland Health Care Malpractice Claims Act (“the Act”) that must be complied with by anyone wishing to pursue a medical malpractice claim. In part, the Act sets forth deadlines for when a plaintiff must file a claim with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (“the HCADRO”), and for when a plaintiff must file required documents pertaining to his or her expert. Recently, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland analyzed whether the trial court wrongfully dismissed a plaintiff’s complaint due to the late filing of the expert certificate and report. If you have sustained injuries due to inadequate medical care, it is crucial to retain a knowledgeable Maryland malpractice attorney who will comply with the statutory requirements to assist you in your pursuit of damages.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a claim with the HCADRO arising out of harm allegedly caused by the defendants. The HCADRO provided the plaintiff with two extensions to file the required certificate of qualified expert and report, but the plaintiff missed both deadlines. Thus, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. Within five days of when the motion was filed, the plaintiff filed the certificate of qualified expert and expert report along with a waiver of arbitration. The case was then transferred to the circuit court, where the plaintiff filed a complaint. The defendants again filed a motion to dismiss due to the untimely filing of the certificate of qualified expert and report. The plaintiff argued that though the report and certificate were untimely, they were sufficient. The court granted the defendants’ motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Penalties for the Untimely Filing of an Expert Certificate and Report

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court committed an error in dismissing her claim when she filed a valid and sufficient certificate of qualified expert and report prior to opting to waive arbitration. In other words, the plaintiff essentially argued that because she met the substantive requirements of the Act, it did not matter if she met the temporal requirements. In turn, the defendants argued that the plaintiff failed to meet a condition precedent to filing a medical malpractice claim by failing to file the report and certificate in a timely manner, and therefore, the plaintiff’s claim was barred.

The court was not persuaded by the plaintiff’s argument. Instead, the court noted that the legislature imposed a deadline on the filing of the expert certificate and expert report to ensure that medical malpractice cases were handled efficiently and promptly. Further, the court noted that Maryland case law dictated that when a plaintiff fails to file an expert report and certificate within the required time frame, the plaintiff’s complaint must be dismissed. Additionally, the court found that the plaintiff failed to establish she had good cause for the late filing of the required documents. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Consult a Capable Maryland Malpractice Attorney

Anyone who has suffered harm because of insufficient medical care should consult a capable Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss their case along with what evidence is needed to prove liability. At the Arfaa Law Group, our attorneys will aggressively advocate in your favor to help you seek a successful result. You can reach us at (410) 889-1850 or through our form online to schedule a free and confidential meeting.

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