In order to encourage finality of potential claims – and to discourage the filing of claims after evidence has been lost and memories have faded – all states have enacted a “statute of limitations.” A statute of limitations is a law that sets forth the amount of time that a potential plaintiff has in which to file his or her case after the incident giving rise to the case occurs. If the case is not filed by the deadline, the plaintiff will forever be prohibited from bringing that claim. Accordingly, the importance of understanding the statute of limitations and keeping track of the deadline cannot be overstated.
Each state has its own statute of limitations. Additionally, in many states, a statute of limitations for one type of claim may be different than the statute of limitations for another type of claim. For example, a negligence case could have a three-year statute of limitations while a defamation case could have a one-year statute of limitations.
Maryland Medical Malpractice claims have their own statute of limitations, which is set forth in Courts & Judicial Proceedings § 5-109 of the Maryland Annotated Code. A copy of the Maryland medical malpractice statute of limitations provision can be found here. Under Maryland law – and with some limited exceptions – a potential medical malpractice plaintiff must file their lawsuit within the earlier of five years of the time of the injury or three years of the date the injury was discovered. This means that, conceivably, your medical malpractice claim could be extinguished before you ever realize you have one, i.e., if it takes you more than five years to realize that you have been injured by a medical mistake.
There are some statutory exceptions to Maryland’s medical malpractice statute of limitations. For example, the deadline to file a lawsuit is extended in cases in which the injured plaintiff was less than 16 years of age at the time of the malpractice. By way of a second example, the statute of limitations does not apply to medical malpractice cases in which a foreign object was negligently left inside of the injured plaintiff’s body.
In short, if you believe that you may have been the victim of a medical mistake in Maryland, you must act swiftly to preserve your rights. If you have a question about a potential medical malpractice case, call one of our attorneys at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White at 410-385-2225.