What You Should Know About Medical Expert Testimony in a Maryland Medical Malpractice Case

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on October 13, 2022 and updated on May 15, 2023.

writing on medical malpractice formMedical malpractice cases are some of the most complex personal injury cases, for a variety of reasons.

For example, injury attorneys often recover compensation for car crash victims without needing expert witness testimony. However, Maryland requires expert medical testimony in medical malpractice cases. There are also specific qualifications for medical expert witnesses – if a doctor or other medical professional does not fit these criteria, his or her testimony is inadmissible.

This is one of many reasons why medical malpractice victims need experienced legal representation. Without an experienced attorney, details could get missed and you may have a much weaker case. Medical malpractice can cause significant damages and unless your lawyer can make a strong case, you may be left without compensation you need.

Contact The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl today to discuss your situation and learn how we may be able to help. Our Maryland medical malpractice attorneys have obtained millions on behalf of victims of medical malpractice and are ready to help you at no upfront cost.

What is a Certificate of a Qualified Expert?

A certificate of a qualified expert, also known as an affidavit of merit, explains how the doctor/medical professional who treated you failed to uphold a standard of care and how this caused you injury. In other words, the statement explains why you have a valid case against the medical professional who is the defendant in your case.

A standard of care refers to the level of care medical professionals should provide in certain situations, which is based on accepted criteria in the medical community. Another doctor in a similar situation would be required to provide a similar level of care.

In Maryland, your attorney must file a certificate of a qualified expert within 90 days of filing your medical malpractice lawsuit.

The certificate must list the medical expert’s qualifications, including where the expert is licensed to practice.

Sometimes the expert may need documentary evidence from the defendant in the case to complete the affidavit. Your lawyer can submit a written request for this evidence within 30 days of the claim being served to the defendant. The 90-day window to file the affidavit of merit will not start until the requested evidence has been provided.

Who is a Qualified Expert?

Many of the experts who complete these certificates are specialists in the same field of medicine as the doctor who is alleged to have committed malpractice. However, this is not necessarily a requirement.

Some of the qualifications for the medical expert who files the certificate include:

  • License to practice medicine in Maryland or comparable license to practice in another state
  • Clinical experience
  • Conducting a consultation relating to clinical practice
  • Teaching background in the same field as the defendant health care professional in the case, or in a related medical field or specialty – teaching must have occurred within the past five years of the date malpractice may have taken place
  • Board certification in a relevant area of medicine, with rare exceptions

If the case involves a general practitioner, there is a wider range of doctors who may qualify as medical experts who can complete a certificate of a qualified expert.

Each case is unique, so your attorney would need to review the details to determine who may qualify as a medical expert under Maryland law.

That said, if you suffered an injury while receiving treatment from an orthopedist, it is likely your attorney would get another orthopedist to complete the affidavit of merit. If the victim in the case suffered a brain injury, your attorney would likely get a brain surgeon to complete the affidavit of merit.

It is important to note that the expert who completes the affidavit cannot spend more than 20 percent of his or her professional time on activities relating to testifying in personal injury cases. The purpose of this requirement is to prevent people who could be considered professional medical experts from testifying and completing certificates of merit.

How Does a Qualified Medical Expert Help a Case?

Validating a medical malpractice claim is a challenge, as there are so many details to consider, such as your diagnosis, symptoms, treatment options, test results, and more. That is why your attorney needs to bring in an expert with a lot of technical knowledge, in addition to the fact Maryland law requires an expert to complete an affidavit.

Someone who has worked or taught in the same field as the defendant in your field should know how to determine what treatment you should have received and the steps the defendant should have taken.

While you need an expert to complete an affidavit of merit, you will probably also need an expert to testify at trial or provide a deposition. Expert testimony will only be allowed if the court decides the testimony will help the jury better understand the evidence and other aspects of the case. The court will decide based on the education, skills, experience and training of the expert in question.

The court must also determine if the expert’s testimony would be appropriate and whether the facts will support the expert’s testimony.

If there are questions about the expert’s credibility, he or she might not be allowed to testify.

Contact Us if You Were Injured by Medical Malpractice

Give us a call today to discuss how we may be able to assist you. Our goal is to recover maximum compensation for victims of medical malpractice.

We know compensation cannot erase what occurred, but compensation can help victims to mitigate the damages they have suffered. Compensation may allow you to get the treatment you need and manage the other financial effects of your injuries.

Free initial consultation. Give us a call: 410-401-9979.