Injuries incurred from negligent medical care are unique for several reasons. First, these claims often involve extremely harmful injuries. Second, filing these claims tends to involve more legal hurdles that might be difficult to clear without an attorney.
To start your claim, speak with a qualified lawyer about your injuries and the treatment you received. When filing your case, we must have your medical records reviewed by other doctors to help us pinpoint where the malpractice occurred. We also need a certificate from a qualified expert affirming that you received negligent care. Your initial complaint requires us to assess your damages, gather evidence, and explain why you deserve compensation. Much of your claim will revolve around the standards of care and how your doctor failed to meet them. Chief among your evidence is your medical records and medical experts to explain them. After we file the case, we can begin preparing for court and communicating with the defendant about a possible settlement.
Call our Maryland medical malpractice attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free review of your case.
How Do I Get My Claim Started with an Attorney in Baltimore?
Before we file your claim in court, we must analyze your case and determine if you have a legitimate claim for medical malpractice in Baltimore. One of the first things we must figure out is when the malpractice occurred.
Civil lawsuits in Maryland are subject to statutes of limitations. These statutes impose time limits on when you can file a civil claim. For medical malpractice claims, a plaintiff has five years from the date of the malpractice to file their case in court. If more than five years have passed, you might be out of luck. You might not have realized malpractice occurred until sometime after the fact.
Perhaps you did not begin to feel pain or notice a difference in your health until much later. In that case, you must file your claim three years from the date you discovered your injuries. If you are unsure about which statute to abide by, the three- or five-year time limits, you should follow whichever would occur first.
Once we have established that you have a legitimate claim and are within the statute of limitations, we must determine the extent of your injuries. This will require that we look at your medical history and records. It might also necessitate some additional visits to a doctor. Knowing the extent of your injuries and how they were caused is crucial to establishing damages. Think of damages as the price tag of your injuries. If you have severe injuries, we can claim more extensive damages.
How Do You File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Maryland
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit proceeds much like any other lawsuit. However, there are a few additional legal hurdles to overcome before your case makes it into court. The first step is to get checked out by a new doctor. You might believe your previous doctor’s negligence caused your injuries, but we need another doctor to confirm. Often, new doctors have already seen injured patients to treat the injuries caused by former doctors.
Our next step is to file the claim. People are often surprised at how complicated it can be to file a formal legal complaint. A significant amount of preparation and work goes into the complaint. First, we need to identify the defendants. While you likely want to sue the doctor who injured you, you might also be able to sue the hospital, nurses, and other medical professionals or organizations that played a role in your injuries.
Second, we need to assess your damages. Even though damages are not decided and awarded until the end of a trial, we must calculate them and present them to the court at the very beginning. Damages in medical malpractice cases can be very high, and you should speak to a lawyer about accounting for all your injuries. If any damages are mistakenly omitted from your complaint, they may not be compensated.
Because medical malpractice lawsuits revolve around high technical and scientific medical information, we need a medical expert to vouch for you. According to Md. Code, Cts. and Jud. Proc., § 3-2A-06D(b), we must submit a certificate from a qualified expert no later than 15 days after the discovery phase of your case. The certificate should confirm that your injuries result from medical negligence, and the certifying expert must provide the basis for their conclusions.
Understanding Standards of Care when Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Baltimore
A medical malpractice claim must be measured against the standards of care expected in that case. Defining the standard of care can be difficult as there might not necessarily be a singular standard. On top of that, standards may fluctuate based on the circumstances surrounding the case.
Generally, standards of care may be described as the level or degree of medical care a reasonable and competent medical professional would provide to a similar patient under similar circumstances. As such, proving that your doctor failed to meet the standards of care in your case might require that we establish how another reasonably competent doctor would have provided treatment under the same circumstances.
What is so tricky about determining the standard of care for your case is that it varies based on your situation. For example, the standard of care in an emergency where time is of the essence will be different than in a non-emergency outpatient situation, even if the condition being treated is the same.
Proving the standard of care and how the defendant failed to meet it requires help from other medical experts. Not only do we need a certificate from a qualified expert, as mentioned above, attesting to the negligence, but we can also have medical experts testify in court about the standards of care and the defendant’s failure to meet them.
Assessing Your Damages When Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Baltimore
Medical malpractice cases are known for involving very high damages. You should speak to a lawyer about your injuries to get a good idea of your damages. Still, cases with severe or catastrophic injuries have been known to be worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
A major source of damages in many medical malpractice cases is economic losses. The injuries you sustain from a negligent doctor are painful and very expensive. Not only do plaintiffs have to pay a lot of money for the treatment that went wrong in the first place, but they end up paying even more for additional treatment to correct the negligent doctor’s mistakes.
For example, a plaintiff might have undergone surgery to help with back pain, but the surgeon made grievous errors that paralyzed the plaintiff from the neck down. The plaintiff would then need future medical treatments and assistance with daily care, probably for the rest of their lives. This is extremely expensive, and the defendant may be liable for current and future medical costs.
We must also consider the money you lost because you cannot return to your job. Many victims of medical malpractice are so badly injured that they can no longer work and earn an income. We can estimate the value of your current and future lost earnings and add them to your economic damages.
Another major component of your overall damages is your non-economic injuries. These consist of painful personal experiences, are very subjective, and are often unrelated to financial costs. According to Md. Code, Cts. and Jud. Proc., § 11-108(2), non-economic damages may include pain, suffering, impairment, disfigurement, and inconvenience, among other non-monetary injuries.
Non-economic damages are not unlimited. Under the law, non-economic damages are capped at $920,000 as of 2023. Each year, the cap on these damages increases by $15,000. Jurors ultimately decide how much non-economic damages are worth and are not normally informed about the cap. As such, awards above the statutory limits may be reduced to the maximum amount allowed.
What Kind of Evidence Do I Need for a Medical Malpractice Claim in Baltimore?
The most important evidence will undoubtedly be your medical records. These records contain a history of your visits to the doctor and what conditions you were treated for. They will also explain which doctors treated you, any performed procedures, and any medications that were administered or prescribed.
In addition, we need to collect statements from you and people close to you regarding your medical condition before and after treatment. This will not only help us piece together a more accurate and detailed timeline of events, but it can provide us with descriptions of what your life is like after suffering malpractice at your doctor’s hands. You should explain what kind of pain you are in and any activities you can no longer perform because of your treatments.
If you have not done so already, it is critical that you see a different doctor and get another medical evaluation. A second doctor will determine the true extent of your injuries and provide insight into how they were caused. A new doctor can also act as an expert witness, testify in court about your injuries, and state whether they believe medical malpractice is responsible.
We will also need some proof of your damages. If you can no longer work, we can use old pay stubs to prove how much money you earned before you were injured so we can claim lost wages as part of your damages. We will need any medical bills you have from seeking treatment for your injuries. The cost of your medical expenses will also be factored into your damages. Any documentation that shows some monetary loss or expense will be extremely helpful.
Do I Need a Doctor’s Help with My Medical Malpractice Claim in Baltimore?
As mentioned previously, we will probably need the help of another doctor. First, another doctor will have the knowledge and skills to analyze your medical records and determine if your previous doctor committed malpractice. Medicine is an extraordinarily complex and scientific field of study, and an attorney is not in the best position to analyze your medical condition.
Second, we need a new doctor to act as an expert witness. Expert witnesses are not like eyewitnesses. They did not actually see the events in question unfold. However, they are highly skilled and intelligent people trained in relevant scientific fields who can offer critical opinions on your case. We can have a new doctor testify in court that your injuries are likely the result of medical malpractice.
What Happens After I File My Medical Malpractice Claim in Baltimore?
Once we are ready, we will file your medical malpractice complaint with the appropriate court. After we file the complaint and serve all the necessary parties with notice, the discovery process begins. Both sides of the case must exchange all relevant evidence and information during this phase. This means we must give the defendant all our information regarding your injuries, medical history, and reports from expert witnesses. In return, we will receive all the defendant’s relevant information, evidence, and reports. This allows both sides to strategize most effectively.
We may also use this time to reach a settlement. After exchanging information during discovery, the defendant may realize that we have a solid case and they are unlikely to win at trial. The defendant may make a settlement offer. This means the defendant will pay you a sum of money, likely smaller than the damages you claimed in your complaint, in exchange for dropping your lawsuit. Settlement offers can be accepted, denied, or negotiated. If you are open to a settlement, we can help you negotiate the best one possible.
Call Our Baltimore Medical Malpractice Attorneys for a Consultation
Please call our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (301) 381-4802 to set up a free evaluation of your claims.