Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Studies estimate that medical errors account for 100,000 to 250,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. However, less than 10 percent of medical errors are actually reported. Victims of medical malpractice who seek justice may face many challenges. Compared with other personal injury claims, medical malpractice cases are typically more complex. Filing a successful claim requires the testimony of medical experts. The laws governing medical malpractice are state-specific, with various rules on statutes of limitations, compensation caps, the use of expert testimony, and other requirements.
If you or a family member has been harmed because of the negligence of a health care provider, it is critical to seek legal guidance from seasoned attorneys who are familiar with Maryland law. The experienced team at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton handle all types of medical malpractice claims, including birth injuries, misdiagnosis, and surgical errors.
What Constitutes a Valid Medical Malpractice Claim?
A valid medical malpractice claim includes the following three elements:
In other types of personal injury claims, negligence may be defined as a breach of a duty of care, which is an individual’s responsibility to avoid causing harm to someone else. In medical malpractice law, negligence is defined as a departure from the accepted standard of care. That is a bit different, as it requires another medical expert in the same field to testify what does and does not constitute a standard of care. Furthermore, the injured patient must be able to show that the health care professional’s negligence directly caused the harm they experienced in order to sue for damages.
If a patient is suffering and does not improve, or the patient’s condition is untreatable, that alone does not constitute medical malpractice. Doctors are human beings, and they may make mistakes. Errors may not cause damages; those that do may be considered negligence by the courts. All valid medical malpractice cases hinge on proving that the actions or inactions of the health care provider failed to meet the appropriate standard of care under the circumstances of the treatment.
Types of Negligence in Medical Malpractice Claims
There are several ways in which a doctor may breach the accepted standard of care and thus be considered negligent.
- Misdiagnosis. This includes making a diagnosis that is incorrect as well as the failure to identify the medical condition altogether.
- Medical mismanagement. This involves errors made in managing the patient’s care, regardless of whether or not the diagnosis was correct.
- Surgical errors. This may include errors made during surgery or other medical procedures.
- Prescription errors. If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication or the wrong dosage causing harm to a patient, it may be considered an act of negligence.
- Failure to provide informed consent. Health care providers are responsible for explaining all the risks associated with a given procedure or treatment.
- Birth injuries. These injuries may occur just before, during, and immediately after the delivery of a baby.
- This happens only rarely, such as when a doctor is under the influence of alcohol or drugs while tending to a patient, or if they administer lethal levels of medication.
According to a study commissioned by a national medical liability insurance firm, the three most common grounds for medical malpractice claims are misdiagnosis, surgical or medical procedure errors, and medical mismanagement. The percentages reported include the following:
- Thirty-three percent involved misdiagnosis
- Twenty-four percent involved surgery or medical procedures
- Fourteen percent involved medical mismanagement
- Nine percent were attributed to prescription errors
Misdiagnosis of cancer, infections, and heart conditions account for more than half of the medical conditions in diagnosis-related claims.
Although not as common, birth injuries constitute some of the most tragic malpractice claims. Causes of birth injuries during delivery include lack of oxygen and unnecessary rough handling, resulting in the following types of birth injuries:
- Brachial plexus palsy
- Brain damage
- Broken bones
- Cranial nerve trauma
- Cerebral palsy
- Facial paralysis
- Nerve damage
- Shoulder dystocia
Paralysis and other life-altering conditions may result from birth injuries, necessitating long-term care.
Who Typically Commits Medical Malpractice in Baltimore?
Health care providers and health care facilities in a variety of specialties may be held liable for medical malpractice, including the following:
- Nursing homes
- Physicians including general practitioners
Studies indicate that most health care professionals are highly conscientious about their duties; it is a minority of providers that make the most mistakes resulting in medical malpractice claims. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that in a 12-year period, just 2.3 percent of practicing physicians were responsible for more than one-third of the paid medical malpractice claims. Moreover, the study found that physicians with several claims were three times more likely to incur an additional claim.
How does this happen? Research indicates that offending physicians tend to move into smaller practices after they have been hit with a lawsuit, and new patients make appointments at these smaller practices without knowing their doctor’s past record.
To avoid doctors with past medical malpractice claims, Maryland residents can look up a doctor’s profile using the Maryland Board of Physicians. These profiles show whether a physician has faced any disciplinary actions or malpractice claims within the past 10 years. Patients can also mitigate the risk of medical malpractice by asking questions during doctor’s visits, getting a second opinion, and bringing an advocate along to doctor’s appointments if needed.
Medical Malpractice Laws in Maryland
If you are filing a personal injury claim due to a medical error, you need to be aware of three types of laws covering medical malpractice in the state of Maryland:
- Statute of limitations
- Qualified expert testimony
- Compensation caps
Statute of limitations. In Maryland, you must file a medical malpractice claim within five years of the event itself or three years from the date the injury was discovered. There are exceptions, however, which grant longer time to the following victims:
- Children under the age of 11
- Children 16 or younger suffering harm to their reproductive systems, or have foreign objects in their bodies
- Persons under the age of 18 with mental disabilities
One reason for allowing these exceptions is that that birth injuries and other medical problems in young children may not become apparent until the child is older. In all cases, any attempt to file a claim after the applicable statute of limitations has expired will probably be futile. Seeking the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you file all the necessary paperwork before the legal deadlines.
Expert testimony. Maryland requires a Certificate of Qualified Expert within 90 days of filing a claim. In this certificate, a qualified medical professional provides sworn testimony that he or she has reviewed the case and believes that the health care provider in question failed to provide the accepted standard of care. The qualified expert must be state licensed in the same medical discipline as the health care provider named in the claim. A failure to provide a Certificate of Qualified Expert will likely mean your case will be dismissed by the court.
Compensation caps. Maryland has a cap on non-economic damages. For 2020, that cap is $830,000. Pending any changes in legislation, the cap will increase by $15,000 per year. However, there is a slightly different cap formula involving medical malpractice and wrongful death suits when there are two or more beneficiaries. In those circumstances, the total award cannot exceed 125 percent of the year’s cap.
Types of Damages
Specifying damages is one of the essential elements of a viable medical malpractice claim. There are three types of damages that you may expect to receive:
- Economic damages: These are tangible out-of-pocket costs including medical bills, lost wages, transportation to medical appointments, and anything else for which you have receipts that are directly a result of the injury you suffered as a result of medical malpractice. Maryland medical malpractice laws do not place a cap on economic damages.
- Non-economic damages: These are the types of damages capped by Maryland law, and they include compensation for physical pain and suffering, as well as trauma such as anger, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Punitive Damages: These are penalties imposed upon the negligent parties to hold them accountable for their actions and send a message to others in the profession to refrain from negligent behavior.
In a medical malpractice case, it is extremely important to obtain all medical records that support a claim. Maryland residents have the right to receive copies of all their medical records. However, due to privacy laws, obtaining medical records of a deceased individual can be more challenging. An experienced Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer can help wrongful death clients gather the medical records they need to substantiate a medical malpractice claim.
How our Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Baltimore Can Handle Your Claim?
Successfully arguing a medical malpractice claim requires experience, patience, and skill. Our attorneys can provide the level of professionalism needed to see your case to a successful conclusion. At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, we take a special interest in helping clients with medical malpractice claims. Several reasons for choosing us to handle your medical malpractice claim include the following:
- We have handled thousands of personal injury cases for Maryland residents since 1987.
- Team approach. Multiple attorneys will work on your case and meet with health care specialists to compile evidence.
- Discipline. We help you obtain maximum compensation by structuring a strong case using tried-and-true methods.
- We answer your questions and make sure you always have access to a lawyer who knows your case inside and out.
We do not hesitate to take cases to trial if that is in your best interest. In all circumstances, we put a priority on preparation, communication, and diligence from the moment your initial consultation begins to your case’s ultimate resolution.
Should You Accept a Settlement?
Whether you should take a settlement depends on the value of the settlement and whether you believe it is appropriate given your economic and non-economic losses. Our attorneys present settlement offers and counsel you on whether it is wise to accept the offer based on our decades of experience in the personal injury and medical malpractice arena.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Individuals Injured by Medical Negligence
The Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton are dedicated to protecting your rights if you or a loved was severely injured as a result of the actions of a medical professional. We keep flexible office hours and are available by phone 24 hours a day for emergencies. Your satisfaction is our top priority. We may associate with other attorneys to serve as lead counsel in malpractice cases, at no additional cost to our clients. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.