Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyers
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is a complete lapse in the duty of care that medical professionals have for their patients. Anyone who has gone to the hospital or visited a medical clinic or doctor’s office expects to receive the best possible care. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath when they complete medical school, and they should be held to that standard no matter how long it has been since they graduated.
Medical malpractice happens to 225,000 people every year, but only about two percent of those people report their claims. Medical malpractice can cause great pain throughout someone’s life. Most people who go to the doctor are not medical professionals, and they have no way of knowing if they have been underserved or injured by a medical professional.
It is understandable that patients expect their doctors to get things right the first time. When patients suffer from medical malpractice or suspect that a medical professional has not acted appropriately, the Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton will create a case that helps patients recover the damages that they deserve.
What Happens When Medical Malpractice Occurs?
When patients suffer from medical malpractice, they should understand how it is litigated when working on the case. We have a track record of recovering damages for our clients. We know that patients are often injured, in pain, and are unable to express their frustration.
Some patients may complain to the hospital or doctor, but they likely do not know how medical malpractice works. Medical malpractice cases require proof that negligence caused the injury or illness, and that damages were incurred after the injury. Some things that happen are just unfair, but they may not rise to the level of malpractice because there is no proof of injury, illness, or death. Therefore, we consult with every client before taking a case. We have an ethical duty to forgo cases that have no evidence, and a moral duty to proceed with cases that do.
What is Negligence?
Negligence, in personal injury cases, involves a lapse in patient care. Most of these cases hinge on the negligence of the medical professional. We cannot recover compensation if we cannot prove that the medical professional did not uphold their oath to serve patients in all instances. This means that negligence can occur at any point during the process. Examples of negligence include the following:
- Failure to see the patient
- Dismissing the patient’s concerns
- Misdiagnosing the patient
- Failure to complete tests
- Failure to prescribe the proper drugs
- Failure to hospitalize a patient who is in dire need
- Failure to order and complete the appropriate procedures
- Racist or sexist dismissal of the patient
- Using unsanitary or non-sterile equipment
- Failure to use more aggressive or alternative treatments for a patient in a worsening condition
Negligence must lead to damage. Therefore, patients must show that their condition worsened and incurred damages. Certain treatment from doctors and medical professionals does not amount to malpractice. For example, someone who does not receive a prescription for a rescue inhaler from a doctor and goes to another doctor to receive the prescription simply dealt with a doctor who used poor business practices.
A patient who is denied a rescue inhaler prescription, goes to the emergency room during an asthma attack, and even has their condition worsen has a claim for malpractice. The doctor’s negligence caused the condition, and the damages were incurred because of the doctor’s negligence.
If a doctor leaves a surgical tool inside a patient after a surgery, the doctor might ignore the patient’s pleas for help, forgo tests, or miss a particular diagnosis. Although experience is helpful, a doctor does not know what is happening if they do not listen to the patient, weigh all their options, and consult with the patient or their family. It is important to remember that filing a complaint against a doctor’s license is not the same as taking them to court for malpractice.
The following list of common malpractice situations should be considered every time a patient works closely with a doctor and does not improve as expected. Patients or families should reach out to us as soon as possible if they believe something on this list has occurred:
Misdiagnosis: This can lead to a worsening condition, which should be brought to the attention of one of our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers as soon as possible. A misdiagnosis is a lack of attention to detail that allows a condition to worsen. For example, a cancer misdiagnosis allows the cancer to spread. A misdiagnosis of a broken bone could lead to a disability where the broken bone did not heal properly. Patients, however, cannot diagnose themselves. They need to receive appropriate treatment, obtain a proper diagnosis from another doctor, and bring that information to us so that we can build a case.
Mismanagement: A doctor who knows the correct diagnosis could easily mismanage the situation. For example, a mother who is clearly in labor and sent home might end up delivering her baby elsewhere. The child might not survive, or the mother might suffer grievous injuries because her known condition was not managed properly.
Another example of mismanagement occurs when a doctor orders the wrong type of care or refuses care for a patient. The nurses and medical assistants are often afraid of losing their jobs, or they are simply doing what they are asked. Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers will investigate the case to determine who ordered negligent care for the patient, and we will hold all parties accountable.
Prescription and surgical errors: These errors cause many of the same problems. A physician might prescribe the wrong medication or dosage. In some cases, the wrong medication does nothing and allows the condition to worsen. In the worst cases, the wrong medication can kill the patient. Surgical errors can cause injury over time or kill the patient. Extreme cases, such as improper amputations or performing the wrong procedure on the wrong person, are obvious oversights that can be easily avoided.
Informed consent: Patients assume that they have been given all their options and that everything has been explained to them. However, doctors who leave out important information about a surgery, procedure, or treatment plan should be held liable for malpractice. When a patient makes an uninformed decision, they could be badly injured. Our medical experts can establish that the doctor did not provide informed consent, and we will use that information to file a medical malpractice suit.
Labor and delivery injuries: These are often caused by doctors who do not manage the delivery properly or who use too much force during the delivery. For example, some women should deliver via cesarean section because that is the only safe way to proceed. However, the doctor may forgo a cesarean section.
Why are Birth Injuries a Problem?
Birth injuries are not the same as defects. Doctors and medical professionals cause birth injuries because they are not being careful enough. When birth injuries occur, the doctor or midwife might not have ordered a cesarean section when indicated, did not use the proper tools, or used those tools improperly. In the past few decades, gentler techniques have been developed to help doctors and midwives do the best job when handling a delivery. There are instances when a doctor or midwife might cause injuries to the baby because they are using brute force during the delivery. Although this is unsafe for the child, it can also be unsafe for the mother.
Mothers can be injured because the doctor did not handle a cesarean section correctly, did not manage her blood pressure properly, or even forced an induction when it was not medically necessary or safe. Mothers could experience tearing during childbirth, and they may not be stitched or treated properly. Mothers could go home with internal bleeding, or they may not be given the proper pain medication.
Although parents may believe that certain children are simply born with disabilities, other children are physically wounded during childbirth. Babies can experience the following conditions purely because the doctor or midwife did not perform the delivery properly:
- Any facial palsy that could make it difficult to talk, smile, or lead an otherwise normal life
- Cerebral palsy causing a loss of function on one side of the body
- Brain damage that could lead to a lifetime of disability, learning disabilities, developmental delays, and severe mental conditions
- Broken bones
- Broken collarbones that may have bleeding under the surface
- Bleeding under the cranial bones
- Nerve damage that could cause a lifetime of tingling and underuse of certain parts of the body
- Broken or dislocated shoulders
- Severe paralysis
Who is Guilty of Medical Malpractice?
When medical malpractice occurs, it could happen to anyone at any time. Although most people will blame a surgeon or general practitioner for a misdiagnosis, any of the following medical professionals could be guilty of medical malpractice:
- Physician assistants
- Medical assistants
- General practitioners
- Nursing home staff
- Home care staff
- Anesthesiologists who administered the incorrect dosage of anesthesia
- Podiatrists who caused further injury or avoided ordering certain procedures
- Radiologists who do not manage X-rays or other scans safely, including forcing someone to undergo a scan even though they are terrified
Although medical malpractice occurs about one million times a year, there are only about 85,000 cases filed. This means that only a small portion of the malpractice cases that could be filed will be pursued. Some patients die without their families knowing that malpractice has occurred. Incompetent doctors can even convince their patients that malpractice has not happened.
Many patients with anxiety or depression will blame themselves for their illnesses when a doctor’s inaction could have caused their problems. A physician’s assistant who acts as a gatekeeper for the doctor could cause a lifetime of damage, even though the patient never met the doctor. Pediatricians can mistreat children, and those children often do not have enough agency to speak up.
Medical assistants might perform basic procedures, but they could cause injuries or death. Because medical assistants are often not supervised, doctors and nurses might not know something untoward has occurred. If nurses are acting inappropriately, they may hide their malpractice from a doctor who is not with the patient throughout the day. Home care staff have freedom in private homes, and they are difficult to supervise. A psychiatrist could misdiagnose a patient, and a psychologist might refer the patient for the wrong medications or use improper treatments.
No matter the level of medical malpractice, contact the Maryland medical malpractice lawyers for help as soon as possible. We will review the records that our clients provide, speak about the compensation they could receive, and begin settlement negotiations.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations in Maryland is flexible given the situation. We work with patients in all situations, and we can explain to families how long the statute of limitations should be for their case. Most patients have three years from the date of the injury to file a claim for medical malpractice. We understand, however, that some patients may not know that their injuries were the result of medical malpractice. In those cases, the timeline will extend to five years.
Some timelines are extended based on the condition and the age of the patient. The following categories could waive the statute of limitations:
- Children younger than 11 years old facing lifelong injuries or medical care
- Children younger than 16 years old who cannot reproduce or who have foreign objects left in their bodies during a procedure
- Those under the age of 18 who suffer from lifelong mental conditions
Although these cases are difficult to file, all families should seek legal guidance. We can work with the courts to bring these cases to light, and we will show that a medical malpractice suit should be brought because an innocent child is suffering through no fault of their own.
How Does Contributory Negligence Cause Problems for Injured Patients?
Maryland is one of only a handful of states that uses contributory negligence to determine fault in personal injury cases. Contributory negligence states that someone who is even remotely responsible for their injuries or damages will be denied compensation. This means that doctors and insurance companies can claim the following:
- The patient did not disclose their full medical history or explain any recent medical issues they experienced
- The patient did not follow the prescribed treatment
- The patient did not follow up with the doctor properly
- The patient did not alert the doctor of issues the moment they occurred
- The patient used over-the-counter medication or alternative treatments that made it difficult for the doctor to get the best results
- The patient did not seek out treatment in a timely manner
We work with our clients to prove that they did not cause their own injuries or illnesses. Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers are prepared to fight doctors, lawyers, and insurance companies who want to paint our clients in a negative light. We also explain to our clients how to interact with anyone who contacts them. Someone who reaches out might want the client to reveal sensitive information that could be used against them. It only takes a small amount of reasonable doubt for the doctor, insurance company, or defendant’s lawyer to prove that contributory negligence is at play.
Why is Expert Testimony Important?
Expert testimony allows the case to move forward. The state of Maryland requires a produced certificate from a qualified expert within 90 days of the claim. This means that the patient has gone to an expert who can speak of the malpractice. We ask that our clients obtain their medical records, share those records with the expert, and get the second opinion for the claim. Although expert testimony is required to proceed with a case, it will not close the case. We must continue to compile evidence that shows how the malpractice injured the patient and caused damage to their health or even death.
Does Maryland Cap Damages?
Compensation caps in Maryland are set by state law. We simply follow these guidelines when handling these cases. We calculate how much patients have been injured, but we will face the compensation cap when the case is serious. We want clients to understand that caps are used in Maryland so that there is no confusion. In Maryland, there is a non-economic damages cap. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering. In 2020, the cap for these damages is $830,000. The way the state law is written, damage caps tend to rise about $15,000 every year.
When there are two or more beneficiaries for the case, the cap numbers change. At this point, the total compensation for the case cannot be more than 125 percent of that year’s cap. We use this formula when we have multiple beneficiaries and we know that the damages will approach or exceed the cap.
How Will Families or Patients be Paid?
Although clients may believe they are asking for a lump sum of money, that is not the case. We use formulas and industry standards to determine how much each client should be compensated if the case goes to trial, and every dollar of compensation requested is awarded by the court. Damages may depend on evidence that is provided after the fact. Damages and injuries must be linked to a change in the quality and enjoyment of life along with a loss of earning potential, among other things.
Economic damages: There is no cap in Maryland on economic damages. Economic damages include medical bills, future medical care, psychological care, transportation, and even improvements to the home to accommodate a disability or extended medical care. These damages could include things such as nursing home or in-home care. We ask all our clients to provide us with receipts and statements from doctors that show how much treatment will cost.
Non-economic damages: There is a cap in Maryland on these damages as listed above. Clients should be aware that we are asking for damages that impact the quality of life but do not have a price tag. For example, sleeplessness could be cited as a non-economic component of a case because the patient no longer enjoys the rest they once did. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic attacks can also be noted in the non-economic portion of a claim.
Punitive damages: Punitive damages are awarded by the state as punishment for the malpractice that has occurred. We will petition the court for these damages, but a judge or jury ultimately decides if punitive damages are granted. These damages are added on top of other damages that may have been awarded in the case.
As we litigate medical malpractice cases, we ask our clients to collect as many receipts and records as possible. All patients have a right to a copy of their medical records, but it may be more difficult to obtain medical records for a lost loved one. We can help petition the court to have these records released, and we will use those records to prove that malpractice occurred.
We also ask our patients to bring these cases to our attention as soon as possible. Our Maryland medical malpractice lawyers are here to help when you believe you have been mistreated, and you should not delay. There is a statute of limitations in Maryland to consider, and we do not want to miss the deadline for filing a case.
Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Arguing a medical malpractice case takes time and patience. We have a long track record of success in the medical malpractice field, and we are uniquely qualified to help patients who need to hold medical professionals accountable for malpractice. We will guide our clients through the process and make the process as simple as possible for everyone to manage.
Every patient needs a medical malpractice lawyer because no one should represent themselves in court. Patients should be aware that insurance companies and doctors will have lawyers waiting to defend them. We will fight against these lawyers, doctors, and insurance companies to obtain the necessary compensation for the case. We are here to make it easier to recover. Someone who has been injured or lost a loved one is in no state to argue a case before the court.
At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, we have a track record of success that speaks for itself. We have collected compensation for clients many times over since the firm was founded in 1987. We work with as many lawyers as needed for each case. We do not begin settlement negotiations or go to court until we are ready, and we will take a case to trial when needed. A lawyer knows how to calculate compensation, consult with clients, and speak on the client’s behalf. Contact the Maryland medical malpractice lawyers for help with a case as soon as possible.
Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Injured Patients with Medical Malpractice Claims
Speak to the Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton if you have suffered from medical malpractice or lost someone to a medical error. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.
Conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Prince George’s County, we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.