Our attorney is often asked the question: how long does a personal injury lawsuit take in Maryland? It’s understandable for clients to want to know when they might receive compensation. A car accident, a slip and fall, or another misfortune often puts your life on hold. Once the lawsuit is over you can get on with your life.
If another driver, a private individual, or business caused your injury it’s natural to want to hold them to account. However, the legal process seldom moves quickly. This is not necessarily a failing. Lawsuits involve a great deal of evidence and paperwork and a meticulous examination of the facts of a case. It’s important that all of your injuries caused by the accident are considered.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our Baltimore personal injury lawyers leave no stone unturned in seeking justice. Please call us for a free consultation at (410) 431-0911.
What Constitutes a Personal Injury Case in Maryland?
Personal injury is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of so-called torts. A tort is an old-fashioned term for a wrongful act against another person. Personal injury cases are about compensating the victim rather than punishing the perpetrator. Criminal charges may have also been brought against the person who harmed you, but a personal injury case can be brought in the civil courts in the absence of criminal proceedings.
Personal injury cases may be brought in the following circumstances:
- Injuries sustained in car, truck, and motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian and cyclist accidents
- Dog bites
- Slip and fall injuries in businesses
- Other premises liability cases
- Industrial and workplace accidents
- Illnesses caused by dangerous drugs
- Injuries caused by defective products
- Electric scooter accidents
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Medical malpractice cases
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
- Wrongful death
Factors that Dictate How Long a Personal injury Lawsuit Takes in Maryland
Personal injury cases are very unpredictable. Our Maryland personal injury lawyers will initially work with you on making a claim with the insurance company. If a case is straightforward and the blame is clear, it may not need to go to a lawsuit. When insurance companies fail to offer what you deserve, liability is an issue, the insurance company is dragging its heels, or the case is complicated by numerous parties, we may have to file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
It usually takes about 1-3 years to settle a lawsuit. The following issues may prevent a fast settlement.
Contributory negligence prevents any recovery in Maryland. This means it is in the interest of the other driver, his lawyers, and insurance company to claim you were partly to blame for your injuries. Even in a seemingly cut and dry case in which a driver, for example, was rear-ended, the other side may claim you braked suddenly or contributed to your injury in another way.
The claim may need to be litigated to determine fault. Your lawyer will request numerous documents such as police reports, traffic camera footage, and witness interviews to show you were not to blame. It may only be possible to do this through the structured lawsuit process. Insurance companies often try to shift the blame to the injured person, particularly in premises liability cases brought against big corporations that can lead to high payouts.
The Severity of Injuries and Length of Treatment
Ongoing medical treatment can delay a claim. Some insurance companies will not discuss your claim until you end your treatment or reach maximum medical improvement. Sadly, some clients never fully recover. If your accident leaves you with serious brain damage or in a wheelchair you are unlikely to make a full recovery. Your doctor can give you a permanency rating which allows your lawyer to work with medical experts to calculate the cost of future medical care as a result of the accident. Insurance companies often dispute big claims linked to permanent damage. It’s common for the insurance company to call on a so-called medical expert who argues you are not suffering from a traumatic brain injury and your symptoms have another cause.
The severity of the condition has a bearing on how long a personal injury lawsuit takes in Maryland.
Requesting Medical Bills and Records
Hospitals and other health providers can be notoriously slow in releasing medical records for a lawsuit. When you hire a personal injury lawyer, we will get you to sign a medical release form giving us permission to request your medical records. Although medical providers have established protocols to grant permission, it may take multiple requests and weeks and even months for us to get the records. This has a knock-on effect on the time a personal injury lawsuit takes in Maryland.
Delaying Tactics by the Insurance Company
The insurance industry uses a host of tactics to delay or deny a claim, according to the American Association for Justice.
In some cases, the insurance adjuster may think delaying your case is in the company’s interest. If the three-year Statute of Limitations is fast approaching and a claimant has not filed a lawsuit, the insurance company may stall in the hope the accident victim’s claim runs out of time.
Even after a lawsuit is filed, the insurance company often stalls. The adjuster may get a sense the victim is hurting financially and cannot wait for a year or so for a possible trial. Common tactics include losing correspondence or changing adjusters. The insurance company may believe the victim will get frustrated and even give up the case. This is one reason why personal injury lawyers don’t charge their clients upfront but work on a contingency basis. We only get paid when you make a recovery at the end of the case, no matter how long it takes. There is little incentive for a client to abandon his or her case and a lot to lose.
Will a Personal Injury Lawsuit Go to Trial in Maryland?
Most personal injury lawsuits are settled out of court in Maryland. Typically, under 10 percent of lawsuits end up in a trial. Occasionally, it’s necessary to go before a judge and jury to ensure justice is done. Your Baltimore personal injury team will advise you on the best course of action.
The lawyer’s role in the settlement process is to give the best advice possible on whether an offer amount is fair and reflects the severity of your injuries and the insurance coverage available. The ultimate decision on whether or not to settle and reduce the time the lawsuit is taking is the client’s.
Cases with large potential damages are most likely to go to trial. Cases against big pharmaceutical companies often end up in the courtroom. This year a jury awarded a $2 billion verdict 2 billion against Bayer. The case was brought by a couple who said using the weedkiller Roundup caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The verdict was cut to $87 million in an appeal.
Contact Baltimore Personal Injury Attorney About Your Lawsuit
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we can advise you of how long your case could take. We cannot give you definitive answers. Lawsuits depend on a range of factors, many of them outside our control. We realize many people hurt in accidents need money fast. We also know accepting the first offer is usually a mistake. It takes time to build up your case so as the insurance company and possibly a court will know what your case is worth. The evidence-gathering process often reveals new material that can help your case.
Call us for a free consultation at (410) 431-0911. We don’t get paid unless you win your case.