Can you tell the jury of your OB’s previous birth injury case? To put the question another way, if your OB has been sued before in a birth injury case, can you tell the jury that fact in proving that negligence also happened in your baby’s case? When parents learn of the answer, they can be shocked initially. However, when the law is explained to them regarding medical malpractice and birth injury cases, for some parents it begins to make sense.
This is one of these topics which may be state specific because it deals with the admission of evidence at trial. If you are not in Maryland, you should talk with an attorney in your jurisdiction regarding guidance for this issue. Each state may look at this issue in a difference manner.
WHY IS IRRELEVANT EVIDENCE PREVENTED AT TRIAL?
One of the main roles of a trial judge is to make sure that in a trial, a jury hears and sees evidence that is relevant to the issues at hand. Failure to follow this evidentiary rule can lead to problems during trial. For example, if the jury is hearing evidence which is irrelevant, it may cloud the issues for the jury to decide, thus the jury rendering a faulty verdict.
During a trial, the judge will follow the Rules of Evidence to ensure that the evidence that is produced at trial does not run afoul of the rules. These rules are here to help ensure that both sides in a civil, or criminal trial for that matter, receive a fair trial.
TELL THE JURY OF YOUR OB’S PREVIOUS LAWSUIT?
To prove medical malpractice in Maryland, one must show that the treating doctor fell below the standard of care owed to the patient, causing the injury or the harm. This essentially means that if you want to sue your OB for your baby’s birth injury, you have to prove that they did not do what a reasonable and prudent doctor would have done in the same set of circumstances, and by acting this way, caused your baby’s injury.
Birth trauma attorneys like myself will speak with medical experts to determine whether there was a departure from the standard of care, and this departure is what has caused the injury or the harm. If the medical experts conclude that there was no departure from the standard of care, or that there was another cause to the injury, your case will not be successful.
When you step back and look at what needs to be proven in these cases, what does the fact that the OB has been sued before have an what a jury needs to decide regarding the current case of alleged malpractice? The answer to the question is that in general the fact that your OB has been sued before will not be used as proof of medical malpractice in the current case. Allowing this to be presented in the trial may confuse the jury and have them conclude, “well the doctor has been in trouble before, must have done the same thing again,” thus preventing them from applying the law to the facts at bar. So, to conclude matters, can you tell the jury of your OB’s previous birth injury case? In general, no.
Marcus B. Boston, Esq.
2 Wisconsin Circle, Suite 700
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815
1-833-4 BABY HELP