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Medical Malpractice Arbitration

Before a medical malpractice victim may file a lawsuit for malpractice in Maryland, the parties must first complete arbitration or waive the arbitration process, and the claimant must file a certificate and report from an expert witness. If the parties waive arbitration, or if one party wishes to appeal the arbitration award, they may continue their suit in Circuit Court.

Arbitration

Maryland’s Health Claims Arbitration Act requires any medical malpractice claim in Maryland to begin with arbitration. Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution method that takes place outside the court. In arbitration, a neutral third party arbitrator reviews evidence and reaches a legally binding decision.

For medical malpractice arbitration, there are three arbitrators in every case—a lawyer, a health care provider, and a member of the public. The parties are given a list of qualified arbitrators and can select who they would like to have on the panel.

After they have examined the evidence in the case, the panel of arbitrators decides who is liable for the harm. If the health care provider being sued is liable, the arbitrators will assess damages. Maryland’s damage caps for medical malpractice also apply to arbitration awards. Currently, a malpractice claimant’s recovery is capped at $755,000 for all claims resulting from the same medical injury.

Medical Expert

In addition to the arbitration requirement, Maryland law requires that medical malpractice claimants obtain a certificate of merit from a medical expert. The expert must be experienced in the same or a similar field as the health care professional who has allegedly committed malpractice.

The certificate of merit explains the relevant standard of care in the case and describes how the health care provider departed from that standard of care. The certificate must also state that the departure from the standard was what caused the injury. It must be filed within 90 days of filing the complaint. The court may grant an extension if the 90 days have passed but the failure to file neither willful nor grossly negligent.

Waiver

Maryland law also provides that either party may waive the arbitration requirement, or the parties may mutually elect to waive arbitration at any time before the claim is heard. Arbitration is waived in most medical malpractice cases. If the parties waive the arbitration process, they may then proceed to trial in the Circuit Court. The claimant has 60 days after filing the waiver to file a complaint in court.

Rejection

Even if the parties go through the arbitration process, either party can reject the arbitration award for any reason after the expert’s certificate has been filed. The parties have 30 days to reject the arbitrator’s decision by filing a notice of rejection. Then, the parties must go to court and file an appeal with the Circuit Court to nullify the award. The case will then be tried in front of a judge or jury, who have the authority to reverse the decision or modify the award.

Charles County, MD Personal Injury Lawyers that Fight for You

If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal system to protect your rights. Please contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro to schedule a free consultation.

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