Baltimore Medical Malpractice Law Firm: The 20 Percent Rule

One of the early requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim in Maryland is providing a statement by a qualified expert certifying that, in the expert’s opinion, your health care provider breached the normal standards of medical care and caused your injury. The intent of that law is to discourage plaintiffs from pursuing frivolous malpractice suits — after all, what self-respecting medical expert would stoop to providing such a certification for a claim that was simply silly?

Interestingly, however, Maryland lawmakers apparently still suspected that the integrity of certifying experts — who are generally paid for their services —could succumb to the temptation of making of career out of it. Or possibly, the concern was: How expert can someone be on the standards of medical care if he or she is too busy signing certifications to actually practice medical care?

As a result, the law specifies that a certifying expert cannot devote more that 20 percent of his or her professional activities annually to serving as an expert in personal injury lawsuits. This standard is applied as well to expert testimony provided in the course of litigation. Most famously, in the case of University of Maryland Medical System Corporation, et. al. v. Waldt, et. al., the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the exclusion of testimony by a plaintiff’s expert by calculating with mathematical precision (and the help of a dictionary definition of the word professional) that the expert spent 20.66 percent of his professional time serving as an expert witness. Many Maryland attorneys felt that claim was simply silly —but the high court’s ruling stands nonetheless.

If you have a medical malpractice claim, contact the Baltimore medical malpractice law firm of LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, P.A. for legal advice and information about how you can obtain the compensation you deserve.