Personal Injury Lawyer Silver Spring, MD

The Car Accident Lawsuit Process in Maryland

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If you have been injured in a car accident in Maryland caused by another driver, one of the options available to you is filing a car accident lawsuit seeking damages, the legal term for financial compensation.

This might sound straightforward. However, the legal process in Maryland can be confusing. And if you make a mistake or miss a deadline at any point along the way, your lawsuit could be dismissed or unsuccessful.

That’s why it’s critical that you have a lawyer on your side who thoroughly understands how the legal system works in Maryland. That’s why you need a Maryland car accident attorney from Goldberg Finnegan.

Our lawyers have filed many successful car accident lawsuits in Montgomery County and other legal jurisdictions throughout Maryland. As a result, we know which legal strategies can be the most effective and what steps to take to give your lawsuit the best opportunity for success.

What is a lawsuit?

A lawsuit is a legal process in which one person takes legal action against another person for causing a financial loss. Car accident lawsuits are handled in civil court rather than a criminal court. So even if your car accident involves criminal charges (for example, if the other driver was drunk), the criminal case would be completely separate from the civil court case.

In order for a car accident lawsuit to be successful, the person filing the lawsuit (known as the plaintiff) must provide that the at-fault party (known as the defendant) was directly responsible for causing the plaintiff’s financial loss. Often, this involves providing evidence that the defendant caused your car accident.

Who can file a car accident lawsuit in Maryland?

In most cases, you can file a car accident lawsuit in Maryland if you sustained a financial loss as a result of your car accident. This typically means you can take legal action if you were injured in a car accident. The bottom line is you need to show that your car crash had a financial impact on you.

In addition, immediate family members (spouse, child, parent) can also file a car accident lawsuit if a loved one died in the collision. In this particular case, surviving family members would file what’s known as a wrongful death lawsuit.

What car accident damages can I sue for?

If you experienced a financial loss as a result of your car accident, you can seek to be financially compensated for all your losses, including:

  • Total cost of all medical care, including future anticipated medical treatments.
  • Vehicle repairs or the cost of buying a new car if yours was totaled in an accident.
  • Replacement income if you were not able to work while recovering from your crash.
  • Lost future income if you cannot return to work due to a permanent disability.

In addition, you can also seek money for non-economic damages that don’t have a direct financial impact, such as pain and suffering.

And if the at-fault party acted in a particularly reckless or negligent manner, you may be able to seek punitive damages designed to punish the at-fault driver.

Who can I sue after my car crash?

Maryland has an at-fault car insurance system. This is very important when it comes to taking legal action in response to a car crash. Because the at-fault party is responsible for paying injury victims for all their accident expenses, injury victims can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, which often includes:

  • Driver who caused the accident.
  • At-fault driver’s insurance company.

Depending on the circumstances of your crash, you might also be able to take legal action against additional at-fault parties. An experienced attorney can help you identify all potential sources of compensation and help you recover your losses.

How much time do I have to file a car accident lawsuit?

In Maryland, you have three (3) years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations and can be found in Maryland Code Section 5-109.

However, just because you have three years to take legal action does not mean you should wait that long to do so. Often, the sooner you start your legal case, the better. That’s because the evidence you need to build a strong case can be lost or destroyed over time.

Which court do I file my car accident lawsuit?

In Maryland, most car accident lawsuits are filed in either a Maryland District Court or a Maryland Circuit Court. The difference often depends on how much money you are seeking in damages for your car crash.

If you are trying to obtain less than $30,000 in damages, you would likely file your lawsuit in a Maryland District Court. There are 34 district court locations in 12 districts in Maryland. In the DMV area, this includes the 4th District Court (Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary's counties), 5th District Court (Prince George’s County), 6th District Court (Montgomery County) and the 10th District Court (Carroll and Howard counties).

If you decide to file a lawsuit in a Maryland Circuit Court, there are eight judicial courts covering the state. Locally, this includes the 5th Judicial Circuit Court (Anne Arundel, Carroll, and Howard counties), 6th Judicial Circuit Court (Frederick and Montgomery counties) and the 7th Judicial Circuit Court (Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, and St. Mary's counties).

How does the car accident lawsuit process work in Maryland?

If you decide to file a car accident lawsuit in Maryland, you will likely need to take the following steps:

  • Gather evidence in support of your lawsuit, showing that you sustained a financial loss.
  • Write and send a demand letter to the defendant, explaining your case, requesting a specific amount of money, and giving the defendant a deadline to pay that amount.
  • If the defendant does not respond to the demand letter or refuses to comply, the plaintiff then sends a complaint letter to the appropriate court. Like the demand letter, the complaint letter outlines the details of the plaintiff’s case and requests a specific amount of money to resolve the legal matter.
  • Once a complaint letter has been filed with the appropriate court, the defendant has 21 days to respond.

What are common complaint letter responses?

Common responses by the defendant to a plaintiff’s complaint letter include:

  • No response from the defendant, in which case the plaintiff can ask the presiding judge to issue a default judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. No response from the defendant is rare because of the prospect of a default judgment.
  • Defendant files a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, in which the defendant is asking the presiding judge to throw out the case. Reasons why sometimes include lack of evidence or that the court in question does not have jurisdiction in a particular case.
  • Defendant files a motion for a more definitive statement, which simply means the defendant wants more information from the plaintiff.
  • Defendant files a counterclaim, in which they claim the plaintiff is actually the at-fault party.

At this point, both sides can agree to settle the case, often for a specific amount of money, without going to trial or choose the alternative – to go to trial to resolve the legal matter.

What happens if my lawsuit goes to trial?

If your car accident lawsuit does go to trial in Maryland, you can often expect the following steps to occur:

  • Trial date will be set by the judge.
  • If a jury is involved, the judge, plaintiff and defendant will be involved in the jury selection process.
  • Opening statements will be presented by the plaintiff and the defendant.
  • Evidence will be presented by both sides, which may include medical records, accident reports and statements from witnesses and car accident reconstruction experts.
  • Closing arguments will be presented by both sides.
  • A verdict will be issued either in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant.
  • If the judge or jury rules in favor of the plaintiff, damages (financial compensation) are often awarded to the plaintiff. Damages must be paid by the defendant and can include economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
  • Either side can then appeal the ruling if they disagree with the judge or jury’s decision. Such appeals are often heard by the Appellate Court of Maryland in Annapolis.

Get the Maryland car accident law firm you can count on in court

As you can see, filing a car accident lawsuit in Maryland can be a complicated, confusing legal process. Give your lawsuit the best opportunity for success. Contact our law firm and schedule your free case evaluation with a Maryland car accident lawyer you can trust. Our office is conveniently located on Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring a block from the Montgomery County District Court.

We handle car accident lawsuits throughout the state, including legal cases in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Howard County, Frederick County, Charles County, and other nearby communities.

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