In Maryland, a medical malpractice action must be filed against a health care provider within a certain time period, or it may be dismissed. In a February 22, 2017 decision, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland reviewed a negligence claim filed by the plaintiff against her podiatrist, which had been dismissed by the circuit court as barred by the statute of limitations.
In 2010, the defendant operated on the plaintiff to correct pain in her right foot by placing a screw near her second toe. After several follow-up visits in which the plaintiff complained of continued pain, the defendant performed a second surgery to remove the screw. When the plaintiff’s condition did not improve by June of 2011, the defendant referred her to another doctor. The second doctor diagnosed her with a bunion deformity that could require a third surgery and significant recovery period. In August of 2014, the plaintiff filed a medical negligence claim against the defendant. The circuit court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that the statute of limitations on the plaintiff’s claim began to run in June of 2011.
In Maryland, a civil action for damages against a health care provider must be filed within the earlier of five years from the time the injury was committed, or three years of the date the injury was discovered. Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations begins to run when the wrong is discovered, or when it should have been discovered with due diligence. Under the latter alternative, awareness is implied from knowledge of circumstances which should put a person of ordinary caution on notice.
After reviewing the facts of the case, the appeals court reversed the order of dismissal, holding that there was a factual dispute as to when the plaintiff had knowledge of the injury. The appeals court noted that the plaintiff did not suffer a sudden and traumatic medical condition that would reasonably put her on notice of an injury. In addition, the court explained that the human body’s reaction to a medical procedure is a complicated matter and generally requires expert testimony.
In concluding that the circumstances would not necessarily imply knowledge or discovery of the defendant’s alleged wrongdoing, the court observed that, although the plaintiff was referred to a second doctor, she was not discharged from the defendant’s care, nor was she aware of why she was being referred to a second doctor. Based on these circumstances, the court concluded that it was plausible that the plaintiff believed she was being referred to the second doctor to exhaust other treatment options, and that she would remain primarily under the defendant’s care. Accordingly, the case was remanded back to the circuit court for further proceedings.
If you are seeking trustworthy legal guidance after an accident or injury, a personal injury lawyer may able to explain your options. At Foran & Foran, P.A., our dedicated Maryland attorneys have represented plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases as well as other many other types of personal injury and negligence actions. To discuss your accident case with one of our experienced attorneys, schedule a free consultation by phone at (301) 441-2022 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Court Considers Whether Physician Owes Duty to Non-Patient, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published January 24, 2017
Maryland Plaintiffs May Bring Wrongful Death Action Despite Successful Personal Injury Claim of Decedent, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 15, 2016