Trial Date

Suppose the parties did not settle the case at mediation or the pretrial conference. In that case, the next phase of the litigation process for your Maryland medical malpractice case is trial. The scheduling of a trial date varies among the circuit courts. Some circuit courts will schedule the trial date as part of the scheduling order at the beginning of the case. In those instances, you will know early on when your trial will be. Although the time varies, your trial may be a year to a year and a half from filing the case in the circuit court.

Additionally, other circuit courts will assign a trial date at the pretrial (or settlement) conference with the court. The timing of the trial date will depend on the court’s caseload at that time.

Preparation for Trial

Trials of medical malpractice cases often take 1-2 weeks. For adult plaintiffs specifically, in most cases, you have to be at the trial the entire time.

Before the trial, we will prepare to present your case. As with your deposition, we will meet to prepare you to testify. Your testimony at trial will look different than your deposition testimony. The opposing lawyer asked most or all of the questions at your deposition. At trial, we will ask you questions first, called direct examination. Then, the opposing lawyer gets to ask you questions during cross-examination.

We will also prepare direct examinations of our other witnesses, assemble the documents we will introduce into evidence, and create cross-examinations for the defense witnesses.

Start of the Trial

Preliminary Matters and Jury Selection

When we appear at trial, the judge may address any preliminary matters. They include open motions, including for summary judgment or in limine. In these motions, a party may claim entitlement to judgment on all or part of a claim or seek to exclude specific evidence at trial. The judge may also address any scheduling issues.

Court house for Maryland Medical Malpractice Trial
Maryland Medical Malpractice Trial

Then, jury selection will begin. There will be six jurors plus any alternates that the court determines. Rule 2-511(b) and 2-512(a)(1).

The court clerk gives a list of jurors to each lawyer, and the judge reads questions to the jurors called voir dire. The intent is to discover why a juror should not serve on the trial. When questioning reveals such a reason, a lawyer can use a challenge for cause to request the judge to excuse the juror from service. Rule 2-512(d).

In addition, each party gets four peremptory challenges that they can use to dismiss jurors without providing a reason. They get an additional peremptory challenge for each group of three or fewer alternate jurors. The court treats all plaintiffs as a single party and all defendants as a single party unless the trial judge determines that adverse or hostile interests between plaintiffs or between defendants justify allowing one or more of them the separate peremptory challenges available to a single party. Rule 2-512(e). See the blog post in Street v. UCMC 2 to discuss a Maryland case addressing additional peremptory challenges.

Parties’ cases

The lawyers begin the trial by giving opening statements. In these presentations, the lawyers describe the cases they intend to introduce through witnesses and documents.

The plaintiff then puts on their case. The defense can motion for judgment under Rule 2-519 at the end of the plaintiff’s case. The defense then presents its case and can renew a motion for judgment. In our cases, the court usually denies those motions, and the case goes to the jury.

Jury Instructions

The court then takes the proposed jury instructions that the lawyers have submitted and confers with the lawyers to prepare the final instructions the court will give to the jury. Rule 2-520.

After the court instructs the jury, the lawyers present their closing arguments. They argue that the evidence supports a finding in their favor under the jury instructions.

The jury then deliberates until it makes a unanimous decision. Rule 2-522. Suppose the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision and the parties disagree to accept a majority. In that case, the court will declare a mistrial, and the lawyers must retry the case.

The judge then enters judgment on the jury’s verdict. Rule 2-601. For more details, review the Blog post on entry of judgment.

Post-Trial Motions

Any party dissatisfied with the jury verdict can file a post-trial motion under Rules 2-532, 2-533, and 2-534. These are motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, motions for a new trial, and motions to alter or amend a judgment.

When the defendant pays a judgment, the plaintiff files an order of satisfaction with the court. Rule 2-626.

The Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog regularly posts on issues involving trials of Maryland medical malpractice cases. The following are some of the posts:

To start this process for your case now, visit the free consultation page or video. Then contact the Kopec Law Firm at 800-604-0704 to speak directly with Attorney Mark Kopec. He is a top-rated Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer. The Kopec Law Firm is in Baltimore and pursues cases throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Next Phase

Any party dissatisfied with the judgment can file an appeal.

What Our Clients Say About Us

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Mark is a knowledgeable and empathetic lawyer who speaks directly and concisely to evaluate your problem. He doesn't use attorney jargon that confuses people, rather he talks clearly. Although he couldn't help me with my situation, the consultation I had was productive because he answered my questions and gave me some clarity.

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Dear Mark, thank you so much for your help and kindness. You provided the guidance and assistance we needed to obtain some understanding in loss of our child. We will never forget the professional and personal service provided. If anyone is in need of legal representation, I will certainly send them your way. God bless.

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Dear Mr. Mark, I’m truly grateful to have had you work on my son’s case. You were up front at all times and were on key every step of the way. I will always recommend your firm. Thank you so much for helping my son. P.S. Every time my son sees you on TV, he says “Mom, that’s my lawyer, Mr. Mark.” 🙂 Thank you again. You did an excellent job on the...

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