Every tort claim, whether intentional, negligence, or strict liability, has two elements, liability, and damages. You need to prove if the defendant is liable for the damages you sustained, and, if so, what is the nature and level of your damages? When liability and damages are proved, the court shall award compensation for it.
What is a personal injury in Maryland?
Many of the personal injury actions arise out of automobile accidents and are a good example of how the tort system works. For example, if you are injured in an accident, you can claim damages for negligence as the driver failed to exercise reasonable care, which their duty while on the road. When that duty of reasonable care is breached, the personal injury law allows you to recover the losses.
If you ask is there any other basis for personal injury besides negligence? Then the answer should be YES.
Strict liability is a significant and developing area of tort law. The designers and manufacturers are strictly liable for injuries to arise out of defective products. In these cases, the injured person does not have to establish the negligence of the manufacturer but need to show that the product was designed or manufactured in such a way that made it unduly unsafe when used as intended.
Intentional wrongs can also be the basis of personal injury claims, but such cases are rare. Even if you get hit by someone in a friendly way, you may still be able to claim damages on grounds of the battery. Or if you are wrongfully detained, you can win a suit for false imprisonment. While perpetrators of some of the intentional torts such as assault and battery can be held criminally liable for their actions, a tort case is a civil proceeding in court brought by an individual or entity and remains totally separate from any criminal charges brought by the government.
When a lawsuit is filed, the one filing the complaint becomes the plaintiff and the person causing the injury is known as the defendant. Lawyers of the plaintiff and the defendant then begin gathering facts by exchanging documents, interrogatories or depositions. This process is called discovery. In most cases, the matter is settled between the parties soon after discovery. When the parties are not able to reach a settlement, the case goes to trial.
When the plaintiff wins the case, the judge or jury awards money as compensation, which is known as damage. This is for the injuries you suffered. That amount can include compensation for expenses like medical bills and lost wages, as well as compensation for future wage losses. It also can compensate you for physical pain and suffering. In addition, you may receive damages for any physical disfigurement or disability that resulted from your injury.
What happens when you settle a case? Settling a case means you agree to accept money in return for dropping all actions against the person that caused you the injury. You’ll actually sign a release freeing the defendant of any further liability. To help you decide whether to accept the settlement offer, your lawyer will be able to give a practical evaluation of whether a lawsuit based on your claim will be successful. Also, note that the decision to accept a settlement offer is absolutely yours and not that of the lawyer’s.
What about punishment? Punishment is awarded only for criminal cases and not civil cases. Defendants in civil actions for personal injury do not receive jail terms or heavy fines as punishment. It is done only for criminal sentences and remembers that personal injury cases are civil disputes.
Is there a time limit to file a personal injury lawsuit in Maryland?
Every state has certain time limits, called “statutes of limitations,” that govern the period during which you must file a personal injury lawsuit. In some states, for example, you may have as little as one year to file a lawsuit from an automobile accident. If you miss the statutory deadline for filing a case, your case will not be heard by the court.
According to the statute of limitation set forth in the Maryland laws, you have to go to court and file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident and the deadline for it is three years after the date of the accident, in most cases.
It’s important to keep this deadline in mind and abide by it as you plan your strategy for your injury case. Even if you’re only filing an insurance claim, you need to have plenty of time to have a fall-back option of taking the case to court if a fair injury settlement can’t be reached. If you don’t get your lawsuit filed before the three-year period, the court may not hear your case.
Also note that for injury claims against a state government agency, you have one year to file a formal claim, and three years to file a lawsuit.
Shared fault rules in Maryland
It’s not unusual to file an insurance claim or lawsuit over an accident, only to hear the person or company you filed against argue that you share a degree of fault for what happened.
When it’s proved that the injured person shares an amount of fault for the incident that led to their injuries, Maryland courts apply rule called contributory negligence, which prevents the injured person from collecting damages from the other at-fault party.
Under the contributory negligence rule followed in Maryland, you will be disqualified from collecting any money from the other even though the other driver bears most of the fault, your damages become nil automatically because it happened due to your own negligence.
Maryland courts are required to apply this rule whenever an injured party is found to be partly at fault for an accident. However, insurance adjusters may also bring up the rule during settlement negotiations, so it’s wise to be prepared.
Damage Caps in Maryland
When it comes to damages in personal injury cases, some states place limits, on certain categories of compensation, like non-economic damages. Other states cap damages in certain types of injury cases, like those stemming from medical malpractice.
Maryland caps non-economic damages in all types of injury cases. These caps change on October 1 of each year to reflect the rate of inflation.
The cap that applies to a given case depends on when the injury occurred, which is usually measured from the date of the accident.
If you need a Maryland personal injury lawyer to help you with a Maryland personal injury case, call our office at 888-437-7747. Our Maryland personal injury attorneys can help you.