How Much Time Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Case in Maryland?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Medical Malpractice Published on February 14, 2023 and updated on February 15, 2023.

lady justice with clockThere is a limited amount of time to seek compensation for damages caused by medical malpractice. State law sets a statute of limitations for these cases, and once the deadline passes, you lose the right to seek compensation for your damages.

Below, we discuss the medical malpractice statute of limitations in Maryland, including the discovery rule, which may give victims more time to file. The key takeaway is that there is limited time to seek compensation. These cases are complex and difficult to prove so it is important to give your attorney as much time as possible to investigate and gather evidence.

If you were injured because of medical malpractice, Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices is ready to help you seek compensation. An initial consultation with an experienced lawyer is free of charge. There are also no upfront fees if you hire our firm to represent you.

Are you a victim of malpractice? Call today: 410-401-9979.

Maryland’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a window of time in which a plaintiff can file a lawsuit. When time runs out you lose the right to file a lawsuit.

Maryland’s medical malpractice statute of limitations can be confusing. Essentially, you must file a claim within five years of the injury occurring or three years of discovering the injury. If you try to file a lawsuit after the deadline passes, the defendant can file a motion to have the case dismissed.

Maryland’s Discovery Rule

Often, a medical malpractice injury is noticed right away. However, there may be times when the victim does not discover the injury when it occurs. He or she might not find about it for weeks, months or even longer. For example, this might happen if a doctor misdiagnoses an illness. It might take time for the patient to discover that his or her illness has gone untreated.

In situations like this, Maryland’s discovery rule may apply. This rule says that you must file a lawsuit within three years of the date you discover the injury or the date you should have discovered the injury.

The law requires victims to conduct a diligent investigation to determine if they have an injury. You need to begin an investigation when you know about something that would cause alarm for a reasonable person.

The key point here is that the three-year deadline does not begin when you know about an injury, but on the date when you should have been investigating a medical condition.

An experienced Maryland medical malpractice lawyer could explain this in more detail. However, an example of a situation in which you would be expected to investigate is if you began experiencing pain that was not caused by something else. For example, if you suffered an internal injury and began experiencing pain in your abdomen, you would be expected to investigate it. The statute of limitations would likely start on the date you first felt the pain.

Continuous Treatment Rule

Maryland also has a continuous treatment rule that says the statute of limitations will not begin running until treatment has concluded.

That said, if the patient was reasonably expected to learn about the injury during treatment, the statute begins to run when the patient has active or constructive knowledge of the injury. Active knowledge means the patient finds out about the injury and constructive knowledge means he or she was expected to learn of the injury.

What About the Five-Year Deadline?

Even though the law says you have three years from the date you discover an injury to file a claim, you must file the claim within five years of the date of the injury. The only exception to the five-year deadline would be if there is an unusual circumstance.

An unusual circumstance would include the patient being deemed mentally incapacitated. In this situation, the statute of limitations will likely be three years from the date the patient is no longer mentally incapacitated.

Minors also do not have the same statute of limitations as those who are over the age of 18. The clock on the statute of limitations for minors will not start to run until they reach the age of 18.

How Often is the Discovery Rule Applied?

Victims need to understand that the burden is on them to prove they did not know about an injury when it occurred. This is very difficult to prove. That means the discovery rule does not apply to many cases.

If you think you were a victim of medical malpractice, you should contact a lawyer right away. If he or she finds you have a case, you want to give him or her as much time as possible to investigate and file a case.

There may be situations when an attorney can request an extension of the statute of limitations and the court might grant it. For example, your lawyer might be able to successfully argue that there are persuasive authority or policy considerations that support a pause in the statute of limitations.

However, this is not something you should count on. For the most part, you should operate under the assumption you have three years from the date of your injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. It is vital to contact a lawyer as soon as you can.

What About Claims Involving Patients Who Died?

Medical malpractice can be extremely dangerous, and some victims lose their lives because of it. In these situations, a wrongful death claim can be filed within three years of the patient’s death. There are specific rules about who has the right to file a wrongful death claim.

Call to Get Your Legal Questions Answered

The damage caused by medical malpractice could affect victims for years to come. The medical professionals who caused these injuries need to be held accountable to help protect other people.

If you were injured but you are unsure if you have a case, contact us today. The clock may already be running on the statute of limitations.

Free legal consultation and no upfront fees. Contact us: 410-401-9979.