Maryland Medical Malpractice Laws

Get familiar with the procedural rules and damages caps that could have a big impact on your Maryland medical malpractice lawsuit.

By , J.D. University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated 4/25/2024

If you're harmed by a doctor's mistake in Maryland, it's important to understand that a medical malpractice case can be a fairly complex undertaking, especially compared with other kinds of personal injury claims. Legal issues and medical evidence can get very complicated, and special procedural rules come into play.

In this article, we'll look at some key Maryland medical malpractice laws, including:

  • the "certificate of qualified expert" requirement for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit
  • when your Maryland medical malpractice case might need to go to arbitration
  • the statute of limitations filing deadline for Maryland medical malpractice lawsuits, and
  • caps on how much compensation ("damages") an injured patient can receive in a Maryland medical malpractice case.

How Do I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit In Maryland?

Like every other kind of civil lawsuit, filing a medical malpractice case means putting together a few key documents, filing them in court, and "serving" them on the person or business you're suing (the defendant). Usually that means :

  • a "complaint" spelling out the nature of your claims against the defendant, and
  • a "summons" letting the defendant know they're being sued.

(Get the basics on filing an injury lawsuit in court.)

But like many states, Maryland has passed laws creating special "hoops" for injured patients to jump through in order to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a health care provider. Two of the biggest are the "certificate of qualified expert" requirement and the mandatory arbitration pipeline.

Maryland's "Certificate of Qualified Expert" Requirement for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Within 90 days after filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland, you'll need to file a certificate in which a qualified medical expert swears under oath that they've reviewed your claim and believes both of the following:

  • the defendant health care provider(s) did not meet the accepted medical standard of care when treating or diagnosing you, and
  • that failure was the cause of your injuries.

If you don't file this certificate, your case will probably be dismissed by the court. But you can ask the judge to modify or completely waive the certificate requirement, and your request could be granted if you've provided a good reason.

The expert-certificate requirement is spelled out in Maryland Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings, sections 3-2A-04 and 3-2C-02.

Learn more about the role of expert medical witnesses in medical malpractice cases.

Will My Maryland Medical Malpractice Case Go to Arbitration?

If you're asking for more than $30,000 in compensation ("damages") in your medical malpractice case, you can't simply file your lawsuit in civil court. Instead, you must file the claim (and the accompanying expert certificate) with Maryland's Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office.

How Does Medical Malpractice Arbitration Work In Maryland?

Here's a brief snapshot of the process:

  • A three-member panel of arbitrators—including an attorney, a health care provider, and a member of the public—is chosen by the parties, from a list of qualified candidates supplied by the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office.
  • The panel of arbitrators hears from witnesses and examines all relevant evidence from both the injured patient and the health care provider(s) they're suing.
  • The panel determines whether any health care provider is liable for the patient's harm, and if so, determines how much compensation the injured patient should receive.
  • a party wanting t reverse or modify the award must file an appeal with the state's Circuit Court.

This arbitration process is "non-binding," meaning that the arbitration panel's decision isn't final, and either party can appeal the result in the court system. But arbitration of a medical malpractice lawsuit isn't always a good fit for an injured patient, and it's usually possible to avoid the arbitration process altogether in Maryland.

The "Election to Waive Arbitration" for Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

If you don't want your claim to go to arbitration, you'll need to file a written election to waive arbitration, within 60 days after all defendant health care provider(s) have filed their own expert certificates. (The defendants may also choose to waive arbitration.)

Then, within 60 days after the arbitration waiver has been filed, you must file your medical malpractice complaint with the court. If you miss that 60-day deadline, a defendant may ask to have your case dismissed. The judge will grant that request if the delay in filing the complaint caused some harm to the defendant.

These requirements are outlined in Maryland Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings, sections 3-2A-02, 3-2A-04, and 3-2A-06B (2022).

What Is Maryland's Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

A statute of limitations is a state law that sets a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after you've suffered some type of harm. Deadlines differ depending on the kind of case you want to file.

Maryland's statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases can be found at Maryland Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings, section 5-109, which says that an injured patient must get their lawsuit filed:

  • five years after the medical error happened, or
  • within three years after the plaintiff (the injured patient) discovered or reasonably could have discovered that they were injured by a health care provider's mistake.

Can the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations Be Extended In Maryland?

Maryland has passed laws setting special lawsuit-filing deadlines for patients who were under the age of 11 when the medical negligence occurred. But the Maryland Court of Appeals has held that those deadlines (which apply when the patient turns 11 or 16, depending on the circumstances) violate the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Under the court's decision, whenever a patient was younger than 18 at the time of the injury, the filing deadline "clock" starts when the patient turns 18 (Piselli v. 75th Street Medical, 808 A.2d 508 (Md. Ct. App. 2002).)

If the patient was mentally incapacitated when the alleged malpractice happened, the filing deadline will most likely be three years after the mental disability ends. That's according to standard exceptions applying to the statute of limitations for most kinds of civil cases in Maryland, found at Maryland Code, Courts & Judicial Proceedings, section 5-201.

What If I Miss the Statute of Limitations Filing Deadline In Maryland?

Having read all of this, you might be wondering what happens if you try to file your medical malpractice claim after the statute of limitations deadline has already passed (and no exception applies to alter or extend the filing deadline). In that situation, it's a safe bet that the doctor or health care facility you're trying to sue will ask to have your claim dismissed, and the court will grant the request. That would be the end of your case—which is why it's so important to understand and comply with the deadline.

What Is the Maryland Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages?

Like a number of states, Maryland has a law that places a limit or "cap" on how much compensation an injured patient can receive even if their medical malpractice lawsuit is successful.

Maryland's cap, which is set by Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code section 3-2A-09, applies to noneconomic damages only in any malpractice case arising from the same medical injury, regardless of how many defendants (hospital, doctor, or other licensed health care provider) there are.

So, what are noneconomic damages in a medical malpractice case? It's a category of damages that's not easily captured by a dollar figure, including compensation for the plaintiff's:

  • physical and mental pain and suffering
  • anxiety and depression, and
  • inability to live their life as they did before the malpractice occurred.

This cap varies depending on when the injury happened:

  • for injuries that happened in 2023, the cap is $875,000
  • for 2024, it's $890,000
  • for 2025, it's $905,000, and
  • for 2026, it's $920,000.

The limit increases by $15,000 each year. That means, assuming no future legislative changes, you can add $15,000 per year for injuries that happen after 2026.

Note that Maryland has a special cap for medical malpractice cases involving wrongful death, where there are two or more "claimants or beneficiaries." In those cases, according to section 3-2A-09, total noneconomic damages for all actions cannot exceed 125% of that year's cap (as listed above), "regardless of the number of claims, claimants, plaintiffs, beneficiaries, or defendants." (Learn more about Maryland wrongful death lawsuits).

It's important to note that Maryland's cap has no effect on economic damages resulting from medical malpractice, including compensation for past medical expenses, payment for ongoing medical care, reimbursement for lost income, and compensation for any harm to the plaintiff's ability to earn a living.

Getting Help With a Maryland Medical Malpractice Case

It's not hard to see that a medical malpractice lawsuit is complicated on a number of fronts. If you've been harmed by a health care provider's negligence in Maryland, your best first step might be discussing your situation with an a legal professional who understands the ins and outs of these kinds of cases. Learn more about how a medical malpractice lawyer can make a difference in your case.

Make the Most of Your Claim
Get the compensation you deserve.
We've helped 175 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you