When a Maryland nursing home resident is injured due to the alleged negligence of a nursing home employee, the injured resident and their family may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries sustained. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident that caused the injury, the victim may need to file the case as a Maryland medical malpractice case.

Hospital BedGenerally speaking, under Maryland’s Health Claims Act, claims based on a “medical injury” filed against a “health care provider” must comply with certain additional requirements to which other Maryland personal injury cases are not subject. Essentially, the question is whether the claim arose from the provision of health care or health care-related services. However, it is not necessarily clear whether a specific claim fits within this class of cases. A recent case illustrates one Maryland court’s attempt at resolving a dispute involving a nursing home resident’s fall.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a resident at the defendant nursing home. One day, while lying in bed, the plaintiff fell off the bed because the mattress was not secured to the bed frame. The plaintiff remained on the floor for approximately 45 minutes before a nursing home employee arrived to assist her.

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Earlier this month, a federal appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a personal injury case filed by a skier against the ski resort where she was injured while getting off the chairlift. The case is important for Maryland accident victims because it discusses the validity of an accident release waiver signed by the plaintiff, as well as the contractual language contained on the back of the lift ticket.

Snowy Ski LiftUltimately, the court concluded that both the accident release waiver as well as the contractual language on the back of the lift ticket were enforceable, and it precluded the plaintiff from pursuing her claim against the ski resort.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff arranged to take a ski lesson at the defendant ski resort. Prior to getting the lesson, the plaintiff signed an accident release waiver. The waiver stated that the skier understood and voluntarily accepted the inherent risks of skiing, and she agreed not to hold the resort liable for any injuries she sustained, even those injuries caused by the negligence of the resort or its employees.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Nebraska issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a tenant who was injured while ascending the concrete steps to the residence she leased from the defendant landlord. The case presents a relevant and important issue for Maryland personal injury plaintiffs in that it shows the types of cases that can be brought when a tenant is injured due to a defect in the leased property, as well as the standards used by courts to evaluate a tenant’s claim for damages.

StepsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff leased a home from the defendant. Prior to the plaintiff taking possession of the residence, the landlord was cited for several code violations, including a sunken concrete step leading into the front door of the home.

The plaintiff moved in, and about 18 months later, she tripped and fell as she was climbing the concrete steps into the home. Specifically, the heel of the plaintiff’s shoe got stuck in a small crack between the top step and the front patio. This caused the plaintiff to fall, resulting in an injury to her ankle.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice case illustrating the importance of complying with all procedural rules in medical malpractice cases. Indeed, the point is especially important for Maryland medical malpractice plaintiffs to understand because very similar requirements apply under Maryland state law.

Doctor's CoatThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the parent of a child who was born with serious injuries and birth defects. The defendant was the delivering physician. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, arguing that the care provided by the defendant fell below the generally accepted level of care and that this lapse was the cause of her child’s injuries.

Under state law, the plaintiff had 60 days to file an affidavit of merit from a qualified expert in the field. However, due to an admitted lapse on the plaintiff’s attorney’s part, the affidavit was not filed. The defendant filed to dismiss the case based on the plaintiff’s failure, and the court granted the defendant’s motion. The plaintiff appealed to a higher court.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a dog bite case requiring the court to discuss an owner’s liability for their dog’s dangerous actions. The court ultimately concluded that the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defendants, and the case was permitted to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations. The rules discussed in the case may be of interest to plaintiffs in Maryland dog bite cases as well.

Pit BullThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were neighbors with the defendants, who had recently permitted their adult son to move back into their home. The defendants’ son brought his pit bull, named Rocks, with him into the defendants’ home. The defendants permitted Rocks to stay with them as long as he was kept in a kennel in the back yard and not allowed to run loose.

While Rocks was at the defendants’ home, there were two instances when he acted aggressively. First, Rocks growled at the plaintiff husband when he came over to visit with the defendants. However, Rocks did not lunge at the plaintiff husband or bite him. The second instance was when Rocks growled aggressively at the defendant wife when she went to feed him. Notwithstanding these instances, the defendants permitted Rocks to remain at their home.

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All Maryland personal injury cases must be brought within a certain amount of time, as outlined in the relevant statute of limitations. In most Maryland medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations requires that the case be filed before three years has elapsed since the injury.

StopwatchWhile determining the applicable statute of limitations is often an easy task, determining when the cause of action accrued – and thus, when the “clock” starts ticking – can be a more difficult task. A recent appellate opinion in a medical malpractice case wrestles with the issue of when a plaintiff’s cause of action accrues.

The Facts of the Case

The case involved two sets of parents, each of whom received in-vitro fertilization procedures provided by the defendant doctor. In each case, the defendant implanted a fertilized egg from a donor into the wife. The wives were later determined to be pregnant, and they gave birth to seeming healthy children. One couple had a single child, and the other couple had twins.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Kansas issued a written opinion in a personal injury case discussing when a plaintiff is permitted to pursue a claim of punitive damages against a defendant. The case is instructive to Maryland personal injury claimants considering a claim against a defendant because it provides insight into how courts view claims for punitive damages and when such claims may be appropriate.

Baseball PlayerThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a high-school student who was the manager of the school’s baseball team. The team was preparing to board a bus to a rival school when the defendant, a player on the team, decided he wanted to move his car closer to where the bus was planning on dropping the students off.

As the defendant was parking his car, he saw the plaintiff walking in the parking lot. He pulled up slowly behind the plaintiff as though he was going to hit her with his truck. The plaintiff attempted to move out of the way, but the truck ran over both of her feet. The plaintiff fell to the ground, and another student lifted the plaintiff into the defendant’s truck. The plaintiff claims that the defendant told her that he was sorry and that he only meant to lightly bump her with the truck. The defendant denied making the statement, claiming that he struck the plaintiff as he was trying to park.

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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.

Knee StretchesThe 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.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Nevada issued an opinion in a personal injury case involving a student who was injured while playing floor hockey in gym class. The case presents important issues involving governmental immunity that may come into play in similar Maryland personal injury cases.

Field HockeyThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a student at the defendant middle school. A few years prior to the plaintiff’s injury, the school board approved the addition of floor hockey to the gym curriculum. As was the case with all sports played in gym class, participation was required.

During a game of floor hockey, the plaintiff was accidentally struck in the eye by another student’s stick. This resulted in the plaintiff needing subsequent eye surgery, as well as several follow-up visits. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the school.

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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.

WheelchairMedical 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.

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