The statute of limitations is an important consideration in a legal action. It’s the deadline by which a lawsuit or charges have to be filed.

Different types of civil cases have different statutes of limitations. In Maryland, the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice case is generally three years. A Baltimore medical malpractice attorney can, after obtaining the facts of your case, advise you of the deadline that applies to your Maryland medical malpractice case.

In a recent court case, Maryland’s appellate court ruled that a Baltimore woman waited too late before she filed her Maryland malpractice lawsuit. The court held that Maureen May’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations under Maryland law because she had actual notice that her claim had begun to accrue over three years before filing her lawsuit.

While living in Arizona, May contracted a disease caused by the inhalation of a type of fungus found in the southwestern states. The same year that she began to experience symptoms indicating the Cocci infection, she and her husband moved to Maryland. May sought treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her JHH doctor believed that there was a “90 percent chance” that the symptoms were caused by lung cancer rather than the Cocci spores and that the proper treatment was a partial lung lobotomy. As a result, the doctor removed a portion of May’s right lung in 2009.

But, May’s husband had urged the doctor to investigate the possibility of a Cocci infection because of her exposure to desert dust, soreness she experienced in her hands and wrists and a PET scan that was done while they lived in Arizona. In fact, at a second visit with the JHH doctor, May told him she was experiencing night sweats and joint pain and repeated her request that the doctor investigate the possibility of Cocci. But, the doctor did not consult a fungal or infectious disease expert to rule out the presence of Cocci. Lab analysts at Johns Hopkins later determined that a Cocci infection caused the lesion on her lung.

Four years later, in December 2013, May filed a Maryland medical malpractice claim against the hospital and Johns Hopkins Labs in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. At trial, a doctor testified that the Johns Hopkins Hospital doctor breached the standard of care when he failed to consult with an infectious disease expert. He also said the JHH doctor should have done a core biopsy, which involves extracting a sample from the tissue. Another doctor testified that he would have sent blood tests for examination of Cocci disease before conducting a lung lobectomy because her clinical picture was consistent with “Valley Fever,” the cocci infection seen in the southwestern desert.

At trial, May testified that she felt “betrayed,” “not listened to” and “disrespected.” She also said that she was not a smoker and had no risk factors for lung cancer.

But, the court, presiding over a jury trial, granted the hospital’s motion for judgment after finding that May filed her medical malpractice claim within three years of the notice date. The court said May was on notice in March 2009 as a result of a blood test she had done at the Arizona Mayo clinic and that her lawsuit was filed beyond the statute of limitations.

After May died, her husband was appointed the personal representative of here estate and a notice of appeal was filed.

The Court of Special Appeals upheld the trial court. The appeals court noted that an action for damages for an injury arising out of a failure by a Maryland healthcare provider is three years from the date the injury was discovered or five years from the time the injury was committed, whichever is earlier. Thus, the court said, a plaintiff generally has three years from the date the wrong was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered to file a medical malpractice claim. The date that determines the discovery rule is the date on which the plaintiff discovers she may have been injured. In this instance, the court observed that May testified that even up until the February 2009 surgery, she pressed the doctor investigate a possible fungal infection and that she filed her complaint well over three years after she should have known she was injured.

An experienced Maryland attorney can help you to evaluate your Baltimore medical malpractice claim. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience representing people who need help after Baltimore medical errors have occurred. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 410-885-1775, the law office at 410.244.5068 or via our website for a free consultation.