The rules for the filing of medical malpractice cases vary wildly from
jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Maryland, Virginia, and District of Columbia
each have their own unique set of rules that can trap unwary plaintiff’s
In Maryland, all
medical malpractice claims must first be brought in Health Claims Arbitration. Under Maryland
Courts and Judicial Proceedings §3-2A-04, any person having a claim
against a health care provider for medical negligence must first file
a claim with the Health Claims Arbitration Office. The current director
of that office is Harry Chase, Esq. The director then causes a copy of
the suit to be served on all health care providers named in the claim.
Under the same statute, the plaintiff must file a Certificate of Qualified
Expert and Report within 90 days of the filing of the plaintiff’s
claim. The Certificate of Qualified Expert and Report must be completed
by a health care provider and must assert not only that there was a departure
from the standard of care but also that the departure from the standard
of care was a proximate cause of injury to the plaintiff. After filing
of a Certificate of Qualified Expert and Report, under Maryland Courts
and Judicial Proceedings §3-2A-06A, the plaintiff can then unilaterally
waive out of Health Claims Arbitration, and the claim will be transferred
to the appropriate Maryland circuit court for litigation.
In recent years, there has been much litigation regarding what constitutes
a proper Certificate of Qualified Expert and Report. This legal minefield
is best left to experienced Maryland medical malpractice attorneys.
The District of Columbia
In the District of Columbia, medical malpractice cases attorneys do not
have to file a claim with a Health Claims Arbitration Board. However,
there are requirements that must be met prior to filing a lawsuit against
a health care provider. Under D.C. Code §16-2802, the plaintiff’s
attorney must, within 90 days prior to filing a lawsuit, provide notice
to any medical provider that they intend to sue.
The notice is required to “include sufficient information to put
the defendant on notice of the legal basis for the claim and the type
and extent of the loss sustained, including information regarding the
injuries suffered.” If, in a D.C. medical malpractice case, the
lawyer finds himself within 90 days of the statute of limitations, the
notice under D.C. Code §16-2802 must still be sent. However, the
statute of limitations will be extended to 90 days from the date of the
notice. The law is unclear whether the date of the notice is the date
that it is mailed or served. Accordingly, D.C. medical malpractice attorneys
need to be very careful and should serve any notice by hand.
Virginia medical malpractice lawyers can file directly in the appropriate
Virginia circuit court. However, prior to requesting service on any defendant,
the medical malpractice attorney must obtain a certification from a qualified
medical expert that there was a departure from the standard of care and
that the departure from the standard of care was a proximate cause of
injury to the plaintiff.
Further details of the letter can be found in Virginia Code §8.01-20.1.
Any certifying expert must be a health care provider that the medical
malpractice attorney reasonably believes would be qualified to serve as
under §8.01-581.20. Defense counsel can request certification from
plaintiff’s counsel that proper certification was obtained. Plaintiff’s
counsel, then, has 10 days to certify that a proper certification was
obtained. Failure to do so may result in the dismissal of the Virginia
plaintiff’s attorney’s medical malpractice case. Defendants
do not have the right to obtain the certification or ascertain the name
of the certifying expert.
As anyone can see, Virginia, Maryland, and DC medical malpractice cases
can be a minefield for attorneys. Accordingly, we highly recommend that
anyone thinking of bringing such a case retain experienced legal counsel
from Simeone & Miller, LLP.
Our team is ready to fight for your rights and future.
Get in touch with our team today and we will supply you with a 100% risk-free consultation!