Articles Posted in Professional Malpractice

Earlier this summer, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that a land surveyor was not liable for injuries suffered by a man who tripped and fell on a wooden stake used to mark the property’s boundaries. The stake was tied with a ribbon and stood approximately one foot above the ground. The stake, which was one of four marking the property, was visible to the naked eye.

In ruling for the defendant, the court found that land surveyors are “professionals” and thus subject to professional negligence laws, which require that professionals perform their services with reasonable care. However, the court also found that the surveyor in this case did not owe the plaintiff a duty to act with reasonable care, since the surveyor was hired by a third party, rather than the plaintiff. The plaintiff owned the property in question, but the surveyor was hired by the prospective buyers of the property, who wanted to know the property’s exact boundaries prior to the purchase.

A Professional’s Duties in Maryland

In Maryland, individuals and companies hired to perform professional services also owe their customers a duty of reasonable care. Professionals who are required to meet this standard include architects, engineers, lawyers, dentists, and doctors, to name a few.

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Maryland state law imposes a cap on noneconomic damages in all personal injury and wrongful death cases. This applies to “nonpecuniary” damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, physical impairment, and loss of consortium. MD Cts & Jud Pro Code §§ 3-2A-01(h), 11-108(a)(2). Advocates of damage caps, commonly known as “tort reform,” claim that they are necessary to keep insurance costs under control, particularly in the medical field, and therefore to keep costs down for the public. Opponents of tort reform, including advocates for patients’ rights and others, say that after more than a decade, caps on damages in personal injury litigation have not stopped an increase in healthcare and other costs. Maryland courts, meanwhile, have repeatedly affirmed noneconomic damages caps against constitutional challenges.

The law prohibits informing the jury about the noneconomic damage cap in personal injury, wrongful death, or medical malpractice trials. If a jury enters an award that exceeds the cap, the court is directed to reduce the amount accordingly. As of October 1, 2013, noneconomic damages in personal injury and wrongful death claims, other than medical malpractice claims, are capped at $785,000 for all claims arising from a single incident. The only exception to this is a wrongful death claim with multiple beneficiaries, in which case state law increases the maximum amount by fifty percent. The cap increases by $15,000 every October 1. MD Cts & Jud Pro Code § 11-108(b)(2). For medical malpractice claims, the cap is $740,000 as of January 1, 2014, increased by twenty-five percent for a wrongful death claim with more than one beneficiary. This cap also increases by $15,000 every year. MD Cts & Jud Pro Code § 3-2A-09(b). The for medical malpractice.

The advocacy group Public Citizen has criticized the idea that damage caps are necessary to control costs. Its data show that malpractice payouts in 2010 were the lowest at any point in the previous twenty years when adjusting for inflation, and the lowest since 1998 in absolute dollars. Annual malpractice payments reportedly decreased by nearly twelve percent between 2000 and 2010, and accounted for only 0.0013% of total health care costs nationwide in 2010. During the same ten-year period, national spending on health care rose by ninety percent.

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Adrienne and Robert Miranda, the parents of Joseph Miranda, have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health department, The Maryland Attorney General’s Office, the Hampstead Police Department, and the Federal County and Frederick County state’s attorney’s offices for allegedly failing to properly investigate Joseph’s death. They are suing for $6 million.

Joseph, a 19-year-old construction worker, died in 2006 when his head and neck were crushed by a construction motor vehicle during a job.

Authorities and investigators say the incident was accidental, but a state medical examiner said that there was a “strong possibility” that Joseph was murdered. The medical examiner suggested that the matter be investigated further. The Mirandas have expressed concern that the two men that offered statements about their son’s death were never tested for alcohol or drugs.

Officials say that they did probe the case further and found no evidence that a criminal act had been committed.

The agencies want the court to dismiss the Baltimore couple’s lawsuit because it does not make claims against specific individuals and because the public officials are allowed immunity from lawsuits if the incidents occured while they were doing their jobs

The Mirandas say that the agencies’ professional negligence caused them to suffer emotional grief, anguish, despair, and mental distress.

Professional Malpractice

A professional malpractice lawsuit can be filed against a professional who does his or her job in a negligent or careless manner that is below the professional standard and someone gets hurt because of this.

Professional malpractice lawsuits can be filed against a wide range of professionals, including:

• Lawyers
• Doctors
• Engineers
• Architects
• Accountants

If you believe that you have been a victim of professional negligence in Maryland or Washington, D.C., one of our personal injury attorneys may be able to assist you.

Balto. Co. parents sue over investigation into son’s death, Baltimore Sun, March 21, 2008

Related Web Resource:

Family Seeks Answers In Man’s Work-Related Death,, May 29, 2007

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

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