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How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Respond to a Lawsuit in Maryland?


You were injured, you received medical treatment, you hired our Maryland personal injury attorney, and a complaint was prepared and filed. Now you are wondering how long the defendant’s insurance company has to respond to the lawsuit. Maryland law governs the time in which a response must be filed. However, these deadlines depend on where the complaint was filed, district or circuit court. Our experienced Maryland personal injury attorney explores why a case would be filed in a different court and the deadlines associated with each.

Where to File a Personal Injury Complaint in Maryland, Circuit Court or District Court?

The decision to file in either circuit court or a state district court is based on the value of your case. For severe injuries where the damages are significant, a plaintiff will want to file in circuit court. In cases where the injury is less serious, and the potential compensation is much lower, then a plaintiff could file their lawsuit in a state district court, where damages are capped at $30,000.

Responding to a Personal Injury Lawsuit in a Maryland Circuit Court

If our office files your personal injury complaint in Maryland circuit court, then the defendant insurance company is required to file an answer, or response, within 30 days of the complaint being served. There are some exceptions to the 30-day deadline.

  • Defendants who are served outside of Maryland, but within the United States, must file a response within 60 days.
  • When a defendant is served outside of the United States, they have 90 days from being served to file an answer.
  • When a defendant is statutorily required to have a resident agent, then the defendant must file their answer within 60 days.
  • If service was made by publication, then the defendant must file a response according to the requirements posted in the notice.

Defendant insurance companies in Maryland are permitted to file a preliminary motion instead of an answer to the personal injury complaint. A preliminary motion will extend the time to file a proper response. the extended period will be 15 days after either the court’s entry of a decision on the preliminary motion or the service of a more definite statement.

Deadlines for Filing a Response in a Maryland District Court

Should our office decide to file your personal injury complaint in the Maryland district court, the defendant insurance company will have to file their response within 15 days of being served the complaint. Under certain circumstances, the defendant will be permitted 60 days to file their answer.

  • The defendant insurance company is located out of state
  • The defendant is required by statute to have a resident agent

In both Maryland circuit and district courts, a defendant could file a motion requesting an extension of time to file their answer. This motion must be filed within the time frame in which the initial response was due. Additionally, the motion must provide a compelling reason or reasonable excuse for why it is necessary to extend the deadline. In some cases, the plaintiff and defendant could agree, by stipulation, to extend the period to file a response.

Why Would I File a Case in Maryland District Court?

Understanding how long a defendant insurance company must answer a personal injury complaint brings up another question, “why would I file my case in Maryland district court if it artificially caps my potential damages?” Believe it or not, there are some advantages to filing in district court instead of circuit court.
Before discussing the advantages, it is important to note that our office will not advise filing a complaint in district court if we believe the value of your case is significantly over $30,000. Our experienced Baltimore personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping injured people receive the full compensation they deserve.
Timing is a common reason for filing in district court. Typically, a case will be given a trial date within three to six months instead of the ten to eighteen months that usually occurs in Maryland circuit court. Often, receiving their compensation quicker is more important to an injured plaintiff than the potential of a few extra thousand dollars.
Another advantage for a plaintiff in district court is that medical evidence is permissible without the testimony of a doctor to the fairness and reasonableness of the medical costs. By not having a doctor testify, a plaintiff could save thousands of dollars that would be required to retain the services of a medical professional. In some instances, the doctor’s fees could be more than the potential value of the personal injury case.
In most personal injury cases, our Dorchester County personal injury lawyers would prefer a jury trial. In Maryland district court, cases are heard by a judge. While this might appear as a disadvantage, depending on the facts of your case, a judge could be preferable.
And lastly, the discovery rules are far more restrictive in district court. This actually makes the plaintiff’s overall case less burdensome and expensive to try. Every expense and cost required to try your case will reduce your overall award. When valuing your case, our Talbot County personal injury attorney will help determine if filing a complaint in district court is in your best interests.

Our Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer Will Assist You in Filing Your Case in the Proper Court

Once negotiations have failed to produce a reasonable settlement agreement, it is time to take your personal injury case to trial. Once it is filed, the defendant insurance company will be required to file a response within 15 to 90 days, depending on the court and location of the defendant. Our Wicomico County personal injury attorneys will file your case in the appropriate court, depending on the facts and potential value of your claim. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free appointment to value your personal injury case.