Court Determines “Garden Variety” Traffic Accident Involving On-Duty Paramedic Is Not Subject to Medical Malpractice Requirements

Different types of personal injury cases have different procedural requirements. For example, medical malpractice cases in most jurisdictions require that the plaintiff provide some affidavit or other expert opinion explaining that the plaintiff’s case has merit in the expert’s opinion. Medical malpractice cases also often have shorter statutes of limitations than other cases brought under a theory of negligence. If a plaintiff fails to comply with these requirements, the case may be thrown out by the court before reaching trial.

A recent case in front of a California appellate court shows, however, that not every negligence case involving a medical professional should be subject to the heightened medical malpractice requirements.

Aldana v. Stillwagon:  The Facts

Aldana was involved in a serious accident when she was struck by Stillwagon, who was an on-duty paramedic on his way to the scene of an accident. Aldana then filed a lawsuit against Stillwagon under a theory of negligence, claiming that Stillwater’s negligence in operating his vehicle resulted in her injuries.

At trial, Stillwagon asked the court to dismiss the case under the state’s medical malpractice statute, which provided a one-year statute of limitations. He argued that as a paramedic, he is a qualifying “medical professional” under the statute, and therefore Aldana should have filed the case within a year of her injuries.

The trial court agreed with Stillwagon. Not satisfied with the court’s decision, Aldana appealed. On appeal, the court of appeals explained that a negligence case involving a medical professional is not automatically considered a medical malpractice case. Instead, there must be some nexus between the alleged act of negligence and the defendant’s status as a medical professional. In this case, the court explained that the accident was a “garden variety” traffic accident and did not relate to Stillwagon’s status as a paramedic. Therefore, the one-year statute of limitations should not have been applied, and the court was improper to dismiss Aldana’s case.

Statutes of Limitations in Maryland

There are several statutes of limitations in Maryland medical malpractice cases. In general, a case must be filed within five years of the date of the alleged act of negligence, or within three years of the discovery of the injury, whichever is first. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and anyone believing they may have been a victim of medical malpractice should consult with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of what you believe to be medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Keep in mind that you will likely meet resistance throughout the process from the named defendants. Having the assistance of a skilled team of personal injury lawyers, such as those at Lebowitz & Mzhen, can help make a difference in your case. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Medical Malpractice Case Dismissed on Timeliness Grounds for Failure to Name Additional Defendants in Time, Maryland Accident Law Blog, August 15, 2016.

Latest Court Decision in GM Ignition Switch Saga May Benefit Some Accident Victims, Maryland Accident Law Blog, August 1, 2016.

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