All personal injury plaintiffs must follow strict procedural rules when filing their case. However, medical malpractice cases in particular are subject to a different set of rules that, if ignored, may result in the early dismissal of an otherwise meritorious case. For example, medical malpractice cases in Maryland must be accompanied by a “Certificate of Merit.” A certificate of merit is a document filled out by a medical professional in the field of the alleged negligence, stating that there is a valid basis for the plaintiff’s case.
In addition, Maryland medical malpractice cases are required to be brought with a certain period of time. In most cases, this is within three years of the alleged act of negligence. However, if a patient does not discover their injury until a later date, the patient has up to five years to file their case. In any event, the procedural rules in Maryland medical malpractice cases can be burdensome for plaintiffs and may even result in the dismissal of cases.
Doctors and hospitals are aware of these strict rules, and they may try to characterize any case even tangentially involving a doctor or hospital as a medical malpractice case in hopes of creating additional difficulties for the plaintiff. A recent case illustrates how a slip-and-fall accident was characterized as a medical malpractice case by a state appellate court.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a woman who was accompanying her husband to a doctor’s appointment at an urgent care facility. Upon arrival, the two were escorted back into the examination room by a medical assistant. The medical assistant instructed the plaintiff’s husband to get up on the examination table and then left the room. As the man tried to get up on the table, he fell into the plaintiff, injuring them both. Shortly afterward, the plaintiff’s husband died from complications of his injuries.
The plaintiff filed a personal injury action under the traditional theory of negligence, as well as a wrongful death action. In its defense, the hospital claimed that the case should have been filed as a medical malpractice case because it occurred while the man was in the pursuit of medical care. The court agreed, broadly interpreting the state’s medical malpractice statute to include any “health care related” services. Since the injury occurred in the plaintiff’s husband’s pursuit of medical care and while at the urgent care facility, the court held that this was properly considered a medical malpractice case.
Have You Been Injured While at a Doctor’s Office or Hospital?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a slip-and-fall accident that occurred at a doctor’s office or hospital, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your injuries. However, the named defendants may try to convince the court that your case is subject to the additional requirements of a medical malpractice case. A skilled injury attorney can assist you in the preparation of your case, so you are not caught off guard down the road, when it may be too late to comply with certain procedural requirements. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury and medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case and the options you have moving forward.
More Blog Posts:
Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Case Dismissed Due to Lack of Causation Evidence, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 22, 2017.
Court Allows Premises Liability Plaintiff to Seek Punitive Damages, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 1, 2017.