Earlier this month, an appellate court in Montana issued an opinion presenting an interesting issue dealing with the amount of time a victim has to bring a claim against a medical professional. The question posed in the case is relevant to anyone considering bringing a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit because Maryland courts, like the court that authored the opinion, apply a strict statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff suffered from chronic knee pain after twisting her knee at work in 2007. The plaintiff sought medical care from the defendant orthopedic surgeon. The defendant performed a small surgery on the plaintiff, and in so doing noticed that her ACL was partially torn. Initially, the defendant did not believe that the risks of surgery to repair the ACL were worth the potential gains, but in 2008, the defendant performed ACL surgery on the plaintiff.
There is conflicting evidence as far as the plaintiff’s condition after the second surgery. The defendant’s notes indicate that the surgery went well and that the plaintiff was recovering as expected. However, the plaintiff testified that she was in constant pain and that she was not sure why. Eventually, the defendant performed a third knee surgery on the plaintiff.
After the third surgery, the plaintiff continued to experience pain, but the defendant determined that further surgical intervention would present too high a risk. The plaintiff visited a number of other doctors, one of whom informed her that the defendant made a mistake during one of her surgeries, and this may be the cause of her pain.
The plaintiff submitted her claim to a medical review board and then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in May 2012, approximately five years after the first surgery. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s case should be dismissed because it was not filed within the three-year statute of limitations. The lower court agreed, and the plaintiff appealed.
The appellate court held that there were disputed facts regarding whether the plaintiff knew or should have known that her knee pain was caused by the defendant. The court explained that normally, a medical malpractice case must be brought within three years; however, under some circumstances, that period of time can be extended. One instance in which an extension is appropriate is when the plaintiff was not aware of their injury until a later date.
Here, the record contained conflicting evidence regarding whether the plaintiff knew or should have known that her knee pain could have been a result of negligent medical care. Since there was conflicting evidence, summary judgment in favor of the defendant was not appropriate, and the court reversed the lower court’s decision. As a result, the plaintiff will be permitted to proceed forward with her case.
Have You Been a Victim of Negligent Medical Care?
If you or a loved one has recently been through any procedure or surgery, and you believe that the medical professional left you in a worse condition than you were before the procedure, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit. The skilled Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience handling a wide range of personal injury and medical malpractice cases, and we provide free consultations to victims to discuss their case. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule your consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Discusses School’s Liability in Recent Gym Class Injury Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, December 1, 2017.
Procedural Requirements in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases, Maryland Accident Law Blog, November 22, 2017.