It shouldn’t happen, but it does. Most patients heal as a result of their visit to a doctor or hospital, but in some cases, healthcare professionals make terrible mistakes that can lead to injury, the worsening of illness, or even death. If this has happened to you, and if you’re considering a consultation with a medical malpractice attorney, it’s better to take quick and decisive action.
When Should You Hire a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
When Is It Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined in Maryland as occurring when the actions of the healthcare provider fall below, or depart from, the accepted standards of medical practice and lead to injury or illness. To file a successful claim, you need to be able to prove that:
- The healthcare provider owed you a legal duty to observe the proper standards of care
- That the healthcare provider’s actions fell below the required standard of care
- That this breach of the required standard of care led directly to the injury
- That you suffered damages because of the injury
If this is the case, then you’re by no means alone. John Hopkins University has calculated that more than 250,000 patients die as a result of medical error every year. However, if you’re planning to visit a top Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer, you shouldn’t delay, as there is a set window of time in which you can take action.
Why Time Is of the Essence
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, it’s important to take action sooner rather than later, as there are legal limitations on when you can file a claim. If a set amount of time has passed since the incident, or the discovery of the incident, then your claim will probably be denied.
There are a number of reasons for this, but one is that it’s likely vital evidence will be lost and memories of events will fade if too much time is allowed to elapse. A time limit also encourages claimants to take immediate action.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is the time limit on when you can begin legal proceedings in a civil court case. Once the statute of limitations has passed, any claims that are filed are likely to be denied, and it becomes very difficult to recover any compensation. If you believe that you have grounds for a claim, make sure that you schedule a visit to a medical malpractice lawyer in good time.
The point at which the countdown begins is said to be when the statute of limitations is “tolled.” This is generally the point at which the medical negligence occurred or the medical injury was sustained. While some states allow only a year or two for a claim to be filed, the statute of limitations in Maryland is five years from the date of the injury.
Date of Discovery
In some cases, the impact of medical injuries may not be apparent straight away and may take months or even years to identify and diagnose. In this case, the statute of limitations is tolled from the discovery of the injury. From this date, you have three years to file a claim of medical malpractice.
Children and Minors
If the victim of malpractice is a child, it may take even longer to identify the results of medical malpractice, particularly in the case of serious birth and oxygen deprivation injuries. For this reason, the time limit to file a claim on an injury sustained by a child under the age of 11 begins on the child’s eleventh birthday and runs for three years. This means that the claim would need to be filed by the child’s fourteenth birthday.
If a child between the ages of 11 and 18 experiences a medical malpractice injury, the statute of limitations remains the same as for an adult, so five years from the date of the injury or three years from the date of the discovery of the injury.
Hundreds of thousands of people die every year in the US because of medical error and negligence. If you have lost a loved one through malpractice, it may be possible to claim damages for the economic losses sustained by the bereavement, as well as the pain and suffering. If this is the case, the claim must be filed within three years of the date of death.
In emergency conditions that prevent the operation of the courts, an administrative order may be issued to suspend the statutory limitations and statutory and rules deadlines. For example, if the incident of medical malpractice or the discovery of the injury occurred between 2020 and 2022, the statute of limitations would be affected by the administrative order issued in response to COVID-19.
Filing a claim for medical malpractice isn’t a decision that you can put off indefinitely as there are legal timeframes in which action must be taken. A medical malpractice attorney will be able to give advice and make the best recommendation after reviewing the details of the case, but if you wait too long, you could lose your right to sue. You can click here to get more information.