Most personal injury cases involve concepts that the average juror can grasp. For example, when two vehicles are involved in a Maryland car accident, a jury is normally capable of listening to the testimony from each party, weighing the evidence, and coming to a conclusion on their own.
Medical malpractice cases, however, often present complex scientific concepts that are beyond the common understanding of most jurors. Because of this, Maryland medical malpractice cases require expert testimony to establish that the defendant doctor’s conduct fell below the generally accepted standard of care. In Maryland, this requirement is embodied in the form of a mandatory pre-suit expert affidavit.
Not all cases that arise in the medical context, however, are considered medical malpractice cases that are subject to the additional requirements. A recent appellate opinion involved a plaintiff’s slip-and-fall claim against a doctor. In that case, the court determined that the plaintiff’s case was not a medical malpractice case.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was a patient of the defendant doctor. During a visit, the doctor asked the plaintiff to climb up onto the examination table and pulled out a stool so that she could more easily get up. Once the plaintiff was up on the table, the doctor pushed the stool back under the table. After the examination, the doctor left the room without pulling the stool back out, and the plaintiff fell as she tried to get off the table.
The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant doctor. The lawsuit, however, was filed after the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases but before the statute of limitations for premises liability claims had run.
The defendant argued that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed because it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired for medical malpractice cases. The plaintiff, on the other hand, argued that her case was more properly seen as a premises liability lawsuit and that the case was timely filed.
The court agreed with the plaintiff and allowed her case to proceed to trial or settlement negotiations. The court explained that not all cases arising in the medical context are medical malpractice cases. The relevant question, the court held, was whether the case presented complex medical or scientific issues that need to be explained through expert witness testimony.
Here, the court explained that the plaintiff’s case presented simple issues that were within the common experiences of most jurors. Therefore, the court determined that the plaintiff’s case was properly considered a premises liability case, rather than a medical malpractice case.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience representing victims in a wide range of medical malpractice and personal injury cases. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Dismisses Slip-and-Fall Case Based on Plaintiff’s Inability to Show that the Landowner Had Notice of Black Ice, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 8, 2017.
Settlement Agreements in Maryland Personal Injury Lawsuits, Maryland Accident Law Blog, October 23, 2017.