Posted On: October 28, 2009

Maryland Medical Malpractice and Negligence: How Do I Know If I Have a Case?

During the course of our work as Maryland and Baltimore County injury lawyers over the last two decades and counting, we've met so many nice families and individuals who needed our legal help to get through some very difficult situations. Often it's because they went out one day and through no fault of their own, they got injured -- or killed -- in a traffic accident.

Other times, the cause of their injuries, or even their death, is due to medical malpractice. And in those types of personal injury cases, the cause is often not as clear cut as in auto accident or Maryland work accident cases. It is not always a single event that caused their injuries, disabilities, or wrongful death.

Medical malpractice or negligence often occurs as the result of the poor judgments and/or ill actions of more than one professional, over time, possibly at more than one institution. It can be a complex sequence of events leading up to a patient not being cured or helped, but instead, being permanently harmed. It can involve prescription error, surgical error, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, and failure to provide standard levels of care.

Maryland Medical Error and the Law of Contributory Negligence
As we've written about regarding car and truck accidents, Maryland has a contributory negligence law that says if you, the victim, are even a small fraction responsible for the cause of your accident -- your insurance claim can be denied. This also applies to medical malpractice in Maryland.

Say you have bad headaches, but you don't see a doctor for six months. The doctor says, "It's probably nothing" and sends you home with Tylenol. The headaches get worse and you return a month later. The physician delays another couple weeks in ordering you an MRI. Bad news: The test shows you have brain cancer. However, you'd have a hard time meeting your burden of proof simply because you didn't seek treatment in a reasonable timeframe. It doesn't sound fair, but that's the law of contributory negligence in Maryland. In the eyes of the state, you fooled around while Rome was burning.

The best advice: Don't doodle with your health care decisions. And if you think you may have suffered permanent injury due to the actions of medical professionals, consult an experienced Maryland medical malpractice law firm. Here are several important points to remember regarding almost any contemplated malpractice claim:

  • Malpractice claims require expert testimony from other medical professionals to prove liability. Without an expert (or frequently several experts), you cannot prove your claim.
  • There are also frequently issues of "informed consent" and patients' understanding that all medical procedures involve risk.
  • Maryland has a statute of limitations for filing malpractice lawsuits. If you miss the statute, you are forever barred from pursuing your claim.
  • An unfavorable outcome isn't necessarily malpractice, as even doctors cannot guarantee results.

The bottom line with any contemplated malpractice claim is that you need to retain legal counsel early in the process, and most certainly before contacting physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and their insurance carriers. Also, find an attorney that you like and can communicate effectively with. It’s going to be a long haul, and you need to be comfortable with your partner in the process.

Related Web Resources

Maryland Board of Physicians

Maryland State Law Library: Going to Court in Maryland

Posted On: October 23, 2009

Student Killed in Baltimore Hit and Run Pedestrian Accident; Carroll County Truck Driver Questioned

Baltimore City Police have questioned a Carroll County, Maryland man regarding a truck involved in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident that killed a Johns Hopkins University student. According to news reports, the 20-year-old victim was crossing the 3500 block of St. Paul Street at University Parkway when she was struck by a white Ford F-250 pickup truck traveling at a high rate of speed. She later died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The vehicle involved in this Baltimore hit-run truck accident sped off, however a witness took down the Maryland license plate number. That and news reports informing the public to keep a lookout helped police locate the vehicle. Police have questioned but not arrested a Carroll County, Maryland man, who has a lengthy history of traffic offenses, including 4 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests going back to the mid-1990s.

The individual being questioned has another DUI trial coming up in Dec. for an incident that occurred in July. He is charged with multiple offenses, including reckless driving and failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury or death.

Maryland Pedestrian Traffic Accident Statistics
Baltimore pedestrian accident lawyers often work with individuals and families when someone is injured or killed due to negligent, reckless and/or impaired driving. In 2007, pedestrian traffic accidents took the lives of 116 people in Maryland -- the highest number in five years. Of the total 614 Maryland traffic fatalities for 2007 -- 179 involved alcohol-impaired driving (NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts Maryland 2003 - 2007).

Baltimore City Police continue to investigate this fatal Maryland traffic accident and have not arrested the Carroll County truck driver, who remains "a person of interest."

Police: Owner of truck in hit-and-run is 'person of interest'
Carroll Eagle, Oct. 21, 2009

Hit and Run Death Reveals Disturbing Past Oct. 21, 2009

Hopkins student dies of injuries Oct. 18, 2009

Related Web Resources

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore Police Department

Posted On: October 14, 2009

Harford County, Maryland Motorist Killed in Tractor Trailer Truck Accident on Pulaski Highway

The Baltimore Sun reported that a semi truck driver faces multiple charges after a deadly Maryland highway truck crash that took the life of a 57-year-old woman from Edgewood.

The fatal SUV - truck accident occurred Sunday in the early morning hours on Pulaski Highway in White Marsh, Maryland. According to news reports, the woman's 2003 Chevy Tracker SUV was struck by a Kenworth semi truck, which entered the highway from Stevens Rd. The victim died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where her husband remained in critical condition. The truck driver, from Virginia, will face a number of charges. No further details were available on this fatal accident.

Another semi truck accident involving two tractor trailers and a pickup truck took place in Frederick County, Maryland, on Tues., closing down the eastbound side of I-70 near Bill Moxley Rd. Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in this multi vehicle accident, which involved a semi truck jackknifing and spilling a haul of metal railing into the highway. A second tractor trailer struck the roadway debris, rupturing the truck's gas tank. A Chevy pickup truck was also involved in this Maryland highway accident. The cause of the first truck's jackknife has not been reported.

Harford County, MD truck accident lawyers are well versed in the laws and safety regulations governing the operation of these mammoths of the highway. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has 100s of specific safety regulations in place pertaining to the operation of large commercial trucks. Excessive speed and lack of sleep sometimes contribute to these deadly tractor-trailer accidents. In addition, using cell phones and texting while driving have become critical safety concerns in the United States. (See link to Distracted Driving Summit, below.)

One killed in truck-SUV crash in White Marsh
The Baltimore Sun Oct. 12, 2009

Police investigating fatal collision in White Marsh
The Baltimore Sun Oct. 11, 2009

Accident closes eastbound I-70 in Frederick County Oct. 13, 2009

Related Web Resources

United States Department of Transportation:

Federal Highway Administration Safety Program

Distracted Driving Summit

Posted On: October 7, 2009

Deterring Baltimore County Traffic Accidents: Speed Camera Laws Go Into Effect

The Baltimore County City Council passed an act concerning speed cameras designed to thwart motor vehicle accidents and pedestrian accidents that occur in school zones. Bill 61-09 Speed Monitoring Systems, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2009, authorizes county law enforcement, in consult with other agencies, to use and enforce citations issued by speed monitoring systems in school zones.

The bill defines "speed monitoring systems" as "a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors producing recorded images of motor vehicles traveling at speeds at least 12 miles per hour above the posted speed limit." Drivers will be subject to a $40 fine. An amendment to the bill limits the number of cameras to 15. The one councilor who dissented felt that more police -- not speed cams -- was a better way to address the problem.

In addition to the county bill targeting speeders in school zones, a separate state law now allows speed cameras at work zone sites; two have been placed in Baltimore County -- one on I-695 at Charles Street and another on I-95 between I-895 and White Marsh Blvd.

Baltimore County car accident lawyers may provide legal assistance in cases where serious car crashes, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents occur due to drivers speeding through school and work zones -- where people on foot are moving in and out of the roadway.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that school zones as well as construction work sites are particularly hazardous areas when motor vehicles travel too fast. The Council estimates that every year, some 15,000 people perish and hundreds of thousands suffer personal injuries due to motor vehicles speeding in these high foot-traffic areas. Children getting on and off school buses are especially vulnerable, as are road workers and police who direct traffic at work sites.

Two speed cameras will operate in Baltimore County starting today Oct. 1, 2009

School speed cameras get Balto. County nod Sept. 9, 2009

Related Web Resources

Legislative Session 2009, Legislative Day No. 13
Bill No. 61-09 (PDF file)

Safe Speed - Automated Enforcement Program
Baltimore County, Maryland

Baltimore County Police Department: Speed Cameras