Maryland is a relative rarity in medical malpractice, as it is one of a handful of states that adheres to the common law doctrine in its traditional form when it comes to the determination of contributory negligence.
Statute of Limitations
There is a 5-year limit between when an injury or act of negligence or malpractice occurs and when malpractice actions must be filed. The limit changes to three years from when the injury is discovered; whichever date is earlier must be used when calculating the statute of limitations. The statute only goes into effect for minors when the claimant is at least 11 years in age; it does not go into effect prior.
The limit does not begin until a minor has reached at least 16 years of age. The Supreme Court of Maryland has upheld the decision that the end of treatment cannot be where the 5-year element of the statute of limitations begins and that this is not in violation of the constitution of the state.
The dependents of the decedent can initiate actions of wrongful death if they believe the death of their loved one was related to the alleged act of medical negligence. There is a 3-year statute of limitations within which the claim may be filed in relation to the specified death.
In Maryland, the common law doctrine related to contributory negligence is followed in its traditional form. In simpler terms, if the claimant has been found to be negligent in any way during review of the suit, his or her recovery will be entirely barred by the state.
Joint Defendant Liability
The responsibility for the misconduct of all parties must be assumed and born by joint tortfeasors when liability is brought before a court of law in Maryland. A tortfeasor who happens to pay in excess of his or her prorated share of responsibility then has the right to receive a contribution from other tortfeasors if their liability was made negligible by the judgment but who were still unresolved in paying their shares.
The determination of prorated shares is made through an equal division of judgment among all tortfeasors involved in the case.
It is possible in Maryland to hold a hospital responsible for the actions of any physicians who work in the hospital under independent acts as long as those acts are negligent ones. This is due to the principle of apparent agency that applies throughout the state.
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