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Maryland Court Dismisses Medical Malpractice Claim as Untimely

It is broadly understood that a party harmed by medical negligence must pursue claims against the health care provider that caused the alleged harm within the applicable statute of limitations. While normally the statute begins to run when the injury occurs, sometimes it will not accrue until the injury is discovered. As discussed in a recent Maryland case, though, in many instances, there can be a dispute over when a party knew or should have known that a doctor’s incompetence caused a patient’s harm. If you were hurt by negligent medical care, it is smart to confer with a skilled Maryland medical malpractice attorney to assess whether you may be able to pursue a claim for damages.

Factual History

It is alleged that in May 2000, the plaintiff underwent a surgery that was performed by the defendant, during which the defendant placed a surgical clip on the plaintiff’s right ureter. In 2014 she began to experience abdominal pain and was admitted to the hospital. She was diagnosed with hydronephrosis in 2006. Then, in 2017, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit asserting claims against the defendant, alleging that he negligently placed the clip, which caused her to develop hydronephrosis and other health issues. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Maryland Deadlines for Filing Medical Malpractice Claims

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that her claims were not untimely because although the clip was placed in 2000, her injury did not occur until 2014. The appellate court explained that the statute of limitations is meant to encourage prompt resolution of claims and avoid extended delays and the loss of evidence. Thus, actions arising from the negligence of health care providers must be pursued within three years of the date when the injury was discovered or within five years of when the injury was committed.

The appellate court further elaborated that the subject of when an injury is discovered has historically been the topic of extensive debates, which ultimately resulted in rulings dictating that the burden of proving when an injury was discovered lies with the health care provider. As such, if a health care provider argues and demonstrates that an action was brought more than five years after the negligent act, it will be barred by the statute of limitations.

Additionally, even if a lawsuit is filed within the five year period, it will still be untimely if the health care provider shows that the claim was filed over three years after when the injury was discovered. In the subject case, the court found that the statute of limitations began to run, at the latest, in 2006, when the plaintiff was diagnosed with hydronephrosis. As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Trusted Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you were hurt by a careless health care provider, you should speak to an attorney regarding your possible causes of action. The trusted Maryland medical malpractice attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are adept at helping injured patients seek recourse for their harm, and if you hire us, we will zealously pursue any compensation you may be owed. You can contact us via our form online or at (410) 889-1850 to schedule a meeting.

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