If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident in Baltimore or somewhere in the rest of Maryland, you have a right to compensation if you did not cause the crash. The way you can enforce that right is by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver or the party that was ultimately responsible for the accident. However, you cannot file that lawsuit at just any time. Instead, you need to abide by the restrictions placed on your rights to sue by the statute of limitations.
The main restriction of the Maryland statute of limitations is that it puts a cap on how long after the car accident you can sue. This time limitation can have a significant impact on what would be a wise litigation strategy.
The personal injury and car accident attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian know and understand the implications of Maryland's statute of limitations, and work to make it benefit your case.
How a Statute of Limitation Works
A statute of limitations is a law that creates a window of time following an event that gives you legal rights that are enforceable with a lawsuit. For example, if someone breaks a contractual promise with you, there is a statute of limitations that sets the window during which you can sue them with a breach of contract claim.
Different types of claims have their own statute of limitations.
In the context of a car accident, the event that gives you legal rights is the crash, itself. As soon as the other driver's vehicle hits your own and damages it, you have legal rights to get compensation for the property damage that this impact causes. As soon as you suffer injuries in the crash, you also receive legal rights to get compensation for the cost of your recovery, as well.
Why Statutes of Limitations Exist
Statutes of limitations exist for both the benefit of the court, and for the benefit of the defendant that you are suing.
They benefit the court by requiring your lawsuit to be filed relatively soon after the incident that gave rise to your claim. This is to ensure that all of the evidence that will be used in the case will be fresh and will still be readily available. People are better able to remember what happened only a few months ago than things that happened decades ago, so forcing you to sue soon after a car crash will make sure that a witnesses' memory is still fresh.
The statute of limitations also exists to let the defendant repose in the thought that they cannot be sued, once the time period has passed. If there was no statute of limitations, then you could be sued for wrongful things that you did many years ago, which is unfair.
The Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Baltimore
The statute of limitations for car accidents in Baltimore, and for car accidents that happen in the rest of Maryland, prohibits lawsuits from being filed after three years have passed since the crash.
The statute can be found at Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-101.
Other statutes of limitations can also apply to other types of cases that stem from car accidents, though, like Maryland's statute of limitations for wrongful death actions. However, most of these other statutes of limitation also put the limit at three years from the time of the accident.
Implications of Maryland's Three Year Statute of Limitations
Maryland's three year period for lawsuits to be filed after a car crash is about in line with the other states in the U.S. However, just because it is average does not mean that it will not impact your litigation strategy if you decide to enforce your rights to compensation after the crash.
By forcing you to initiate your lawsuit within three years, Maryland's statute of limitations can make you start the legal process before all of your injuries have been resolved. Some of the worst car accidents that happen on the highways of Baltimore lead to injuries that are permanently debilitating or that take years and years of recovery time. In these cases, the statute of limitations forces you and your attorney to estimate some of your costs, rather than knowing for sure.
Worse, though, is when the injuries that you have suffered from the car crash do not become immediately apparent. If you get hurt and do not notice it, you cannot get medical treatment or seek compensation for the care you will end up needing to overcome it. If the condition remains latent for longer than the statute of limitations, it can mean your lawsuit does not include it in the complaint.
Waiting Until the Last Minute is Dangerous
Despite the problems that arise with having to file your personal injury lawsuit within the three years allowed by Maryland's statute of limitations, waiting until the last minute to file is even more dangerous. Lawsuits take a long time to put together and are often the results of months of close investigations. Giving your attorney enough time to gather the necessary evidence and plan out the best litigation strategy is essential if you want to maximize your odds of success in court.
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a Maryland car accident, this means you should reach out to the personal injury attorneys at the law offices of Gilman & Bedigian immediately. By consulting with our attorneys from the start, you can rest assured that your claims will be filed before the statute of limitations has expired, and will include all of the potential injuries that you have suffered.
Contact us online for the legal representation you need and deserve at this difficult time in your life as you fight for the compensation you need to make a full recovery from the injuries that someone else inflicted on you through their negligence.