Maryland Personal Injury Lawyers
- Do You Need an Attorney for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
- How Long Do You Have to File a Claim? (The Maryland Statute of Limitations)
- How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
- The Process for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Maryland
- The Types of Damages Available in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Maryland
- Determining Fault and Liability in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Maryland
- Contributory Negligence in a Maryland Personal Injury Case
- The Elements of “Negligence” in a Personal Injury Claim
- What Evidence to Collect in a Maryland Personal Injury Case
- Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits Our Attorneys Regularly Handle
- How Do You Hire a Personal Injury Trial Lawyer?
- If You Were Hurt in Maryland, Our Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
An unexpected injury could turn into a physical and financial crisis. Medical treatment is expensive. If you require surgery, hospitalization, or lengthy physical therapy, you could be facing tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills. Additionally, if the severity of your injury keeps you out of work, the lost income will contribute to your financial woes. If your injury was caused by the negligence of another person, business, or entity, you should not be responsible for these costs. Furthermore, you should be compensated for the emotional harm you endured.
Over 120 years of combined trial lawyer experience in Maryland State and Federal Courts, the team at Rice, Murtha & Psoras Trial Lawyers fight for the best possible outcomes for their clients. Every lawyer is ranked by Super Lawyers®; we are ready to help you. Contact us today to schedule a free case review and schedule a time to sit down and talk about your challenging legal issue.
Our attorneys have decades of experience handling personal injury cases in Maryland, and we want to talk about your case today at (410) 694-7291.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury attorney works to ensure people are compensated if they are hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence, reckless or international behavior. Not only do these injury lawyers make sure the victim receives money, but they also fight for reimbursement of medical bills, lost wages, and any other expenses incurred during and after the accident.
Experienced injury lawyers in Maryland know how to navigate an injury claim, guiding their clients through the process of recovery and returning to life after an injury.
Most personal injury claims involve an insurance company. A lawyer is experienced and trained to negotiate with insurance companies as well as knows the insurance laws and procedures in Maryland.
By hiring a personal injury law firm, individuals significantly increase how much money they will receive as well as prevent any missteps that could sink the injury claim. For example, ensuring a statute of limitations is not missed, or a no-fault insurance claim is waived by inaction.
While not every injury requires a lawyer or claim. the two main questions you should if you believe there is an injury claim:
1. Were you injured? and
2. Was the injury caused by someone else?
If you answered “Yes” to both of these questions, then you should consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim? (The Maryland Statute of Limitations)
Generally, in Maryland, you have three years from the date of your injury to pursue a lawsuit to recover damages related to that injury.
A statute of limitations is meant to protect defendants from being sued years after an accident occurred. it is also helpful for a plaintiff as the availability of valuable evidence decreases over time.
Just because you have three years to file a case does not mean you should wait until the deadline approaches. Building a successful personal injury case takes evidence and time. If you wait too long, you put yourself and your attorney at a significant disadvantage.
Missing the Deadline
If you file your lawsuit beyond the three-year deadline, the defendant will immediately ask the court to dismiss your case. In nearly every case, such a request will be approved, and your lawsuit will be dismissed.
It is once again important to note that even though three years is a long time, you do not want to wait to play your cards. it is not uncommon for an insurance company to drag out negotiations beyond three years, leaving an injured person with no leverage.
In many cases, it is advisable to file a lawsuit even if you are planning to settle. An insurance company will most likely offer a fairer settlement if there is a threat of a more significant jury verdict.
Exceptions to the Statue
There are a small number of situations where you could file a case beyond the three-year statute of limitations. For instance, if you have a legal disability at the time of the accident, the three-year clock does not start until the disability ends. This also includes injured victims that were under the age of 18 at the time of the incident.
Another case where you could file a lawsuit beyond three years is when a defendant took steps to conceal their liability fraudulently. Under these circumstances, a plaintiff has three years from the date they should have reasonably discovered the fraud.
Medical malpractice cases also provide an exception. Typically, the harmed patient has three years from the date of the injury to file a claim. However, it is not uncommon for it to take years to determine that a medical mistake occurred. While there is a discovery exception for medical malpractice cases, it is limited to five years from the date of the incident.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Typically speaking, a Maryland personal injury lawyer will charge a contingency fee for most personal injury cases they take on. A contingency fee means that the legal fee is contingent on the success, or failure, of the case.
That means if there is a financial recovery (money obtained through a settlement or court order) in the case, the lawyer is paid a percentage.
It also means that if no money is recovered (zero verdict), the client does not have to pay the lawyer for their services or the expenses incurred by the law firm.
The legal industry standard for contingency fees in a personal injury matter is typically 33% if the case is settled and 40% if a lawsuit is filed.
You may be asking why the fee is more if a lawsuit is filed? If a lawsuit is required, it will take much more time for the law firm to litigate the case.
It may require motions, complaints, hiring experts, depositions, accident reconstruction, and the time it takes to try the case before a judge or jury.
For example, let’s use $100,000 as the amount recovered by the law firm. If the case is settled, the legal fee will be 33% or $33,000, leaving the balance of $67,000 for the injured client. Yet, if the case requires a lawsuit, then the legal fee is $40,000, and the client receives $60,000.
The Process for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Maryland
A personal injury lawyer can be helpful in resolving a personal injury claim successfully. For someone not experienced in torts and personal injury law, proving your case and understanding what your claim should be worth can be difficult. Having an experienced injury attorney on your side can often be the difference between winning and losing your case.
Having Your Attorney Submit the “Complaint”
You submit a “complaint” to the court to file a personal injury lawsuit. This document outlines the basic claim: whom you are suing (the defendant), what they did wrong, and what damages they caused you.
You will also serve the defendant a copy of this paperwork. From there, the case will move on to pretrial motions, depositions, evidence collection, and eventually, trial. Your lawyer can guide you through each and every step of this process and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Many injury victims think that filing their case through an insurance claim will be enough. In many cases, insurance policies will not cover pain and suffering damages, and they may cover only a portion of the medical expenses and lost wages the victim suffers.
Because of this, filing a lawsuit is often better for victims seeking substantial compensation.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company and/or Preparing to Go to Trial
In many cases, the defendant or their insurance company will offer you a settlement rather than take the case to court. This settlement might be too low to cover your injuries, and they may only offer it to help avoid the expense of trial.
Your lawyer can help you understand whether the settlement is fair and advise you on whether to take the settlement or pursue your claim at trial. Call our Maryland personal injury attorney for help understanding how much your case might be worth and how to proceed.
Most personal injury cases are based on a claim that the defendant was “negligent” in causing your injuries. While claims for intentional injuries and assault are possible, most lawsuits work on the claim that the defendant did something wrong that led to your injuries, even if it was unintentional.
To recover damages in a negligence claim, the victim (plaintiff) must prove that it is more likely than not that all of the following are true:
- Duty – There was a legal relationship between the defendant and the victim that gave the defendant a duty to uphold.
- Breach of duty – the defendant breached that duty through acts or omissions.
- Causation – That the defendant’s actions actually led to the victim’s injuries and damages.
- Damage – the plaintiff suffered some sort of injuries or economic damages the court can order compensation for.
In many cases, the duty is set by looking to other laws. Things like the traffic code or building safety codes might set the rules that a driver or a property owner must follow, and failing to adhere to these rules can usually be seen as negligence.
In other cases, the duty will be set by looking at what a “reasonably prudent” person in that situation would do. This reasonableness standard should be seen as objective rather than looking to what other individual people would have done differently.
The Types of Damages Available in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Maryland
In an injury lawsuit, you must have suffered some sort of damage to get relief in court. Although damages are different in each case, the following are the major areas of damages that victims often claim compensation for in a lawsuit in Maryland:
- Medical expenses – the cost of medical transportation, surgeries, hospital visits, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and more
- Lost wages or diminished earning capacity – past and future lost wages from your recovery and disabilities
- Pain and suffering – mental distress and loss of enjoyment in life brought about by the injury
- Punitive damages – additional payments the defendant pays as a penalty for severe or repeated negligence
- Burial and funeral expenses – the cost of laying your loved one to rest
- Lost companionship – damages for lost contact and relationships with someone killed in an accident
- Loss of consortium – damages you can claim for your spouse’s injuries
Your attorney can help you understand which damages are available in your case and how much those damages should be worth. Keep in mind that pain and suffering damages are typically unavailable in an insurance claim, so you may need to file your case in court to be able to claim these damages at all.
The same is true with punitive damages; an insurance company or at-fault person is not going to want to pay damages as punishment unless a court orders them to do so.
Determining Fault and Liability in a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Maryland
Ultimately, it is up to the jury to decide your case in a trial. Judges typically decide the legal questions in an injury lawsuit, but the jury determines which facts are true.
This includes deciding whether they believe your claims about how you were injured and deciding how much they think your injuries are worth. Your attorney can help argue for you in the closing arguments of your case, wrapping up all of the details and urging the jury to rule in your favor.
If your case does not go to trial, the case will often be decided by the defendant(s) admitting fault and offering you a settlement. In some cases, defendants may try to avoid affirmatively admitting fault because it could affect their public image or the outcomes of other cases.
This is especially common in cases against large corporations. Our attorneys are not afraid to take on these companies and hold them responsible in court if necessary to get you the justice you deserve.
If multiple parties potentially share fault in your case, you can take all of them to court together. Juries can assign partial blame to each party, and multiple defendants may be required to pay their own share of the damages you suffered.
If the jury finds you partly at fault, it may hurt your ability to claim damages. Be sure to work with an attorney and never discuss your case with the defendant, their attorneys, or anyone outside of the case.
Contributory Negligence in a Maryland Personal Injury Case
The State of Maryland is one of five jurisdictions in the country that still uses contributory negligence instead of the more widely used comparative negligence in personal injury lawsuits.
Under the comparative negligence doctrine, when both the plaintiff and the defendant contributed to an accident, the degree of fault is apportioned between the two parties.
Their percentage of blame will reduce a plaintiff’s compensation. For example, if a plaintiff was found to be 30% at fault and was awarded $100,000 in damages, their compensation would be reduced by $30,000.
Unfortunately, Maryland follows the harsher doctrine of contributory negligence. This doctrine creates additional challenges for injured plaintiffs and their personal injury lawyers.
Under the contributory negligence doctrine, blame is also apportioned between the plaintiff and defendant. However, instead of having their compensation reduced by their percentage of fault, any contribution will bar a plaintiff from recovering from the defendant, no matter how slight. Under Maryland law, if a plaintiff is found to be 1% at fault, they will be absolutely barred from receiving any compensation.
The Elements of “Negligence” in a Personal Injury Claim
To prevail in a personal injury case based on negligence, the plaintiff must establish that four elements existed. it is only by proving these four elements that an injured person is able to hold the defendant liable for their damages.
- Duty of Care
- Breach of Duty
- Actual Damages
Duty of Care
When determining if a defendant acted negligently, the first step is to see if the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. In some situations, the relationship between the defendant and plaintiff could create a legal duty.
An example of this relationship is a doctor-patient relationship. Physician owes their patients a legal duty to provide competent medical treatment. In other cases, the circumstances could create a duty. For instance, every motorist in Maryland owes other drivers and pedestrians a duty to operate their vehicles safely.
Breach of Duty
Once a duty is established, the plaintiff must determine if the defendant breached their duty of care. A breach could be actual conduct or a failure to act. the governing principle is “what would a reasonably prudent person do under the same or similar circumstances.”
“Reasonably prudent person” is a legal concept representing how a responsible individual would act given the situation. To state in simpler terms, a person must act, or not act, in a way that could knowingly result in harm or injury.
For example, if you drive while intoxicated, you are knowingly putting others at risk. In many cases, proving a breach of duty is challenging.
The next element the plaintiff must prove is causation. The plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s conduct or failure to act caused their injury to show causation.
Reckless behavior is not grounds for receiving compensation unless it causes harm. However, if someone was texting while driving and rear-ended your vehicle, proving that they caused your injury might not be that difficult.
Courts will also examine whether the defendant could have reasonably foreseen that their actions could cause an injury. For instance, if you drive while intoxicated, it is not unforeseeable that you could cause an accident.
However, if there was an unexpected or random act of nature that a defendant could not possibly foresee, they might not be held liable.
The last element in a personal injury case based on negligence is “damages.” This element is the financial representation of the harm that was caused.
For instance, an injured person could be compensated for any medical expenses associated with their injury. Additionally, a plaintiff could monetarily recover for their emotional distress.
As a final note, the duty is set by looking to other laws in many cases. Things like the traffic code or building safety codes might set the rules that a driver or a property owner must follow, and failing to adhere to these rules can usually be seen as negligence.
In other cases, the duty will be set by looking at what a “reasonably prudent” person in that situation would do. This reasonableness standard should be seen as objective rather than looking to what other individual people would have done differently.
What Evidence to Collect in a Maryland Personal Injury Case
Whether you are pursuing a personal injury lawsuit or negotiating with an insurance company, our Maryland personal injury lawyers will require substantial evidence to establish negligence on the defendant’s part. Evidence is vital in proving fault and determining your damages.
In some cases, an accident report will be compiled after an incident that results in an injury. This could be a police report after a car accident or an incident report filed after an injury in business. the report will contain vital information that could prove valuable in proving that another person was negligent.
Typically, an accident report will have the names of the people involved in the incident, witness information, and a description of what occurred. If you have a copy of your accident report, you should bring it to our office when you consult with one of our Maryland personal injury attorneys. If you do not have a copy, we will work with you to obtain one.
Photographs and Videos of the Accident Scene
There is a reason the old phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” has lasted so long. Visual evidence is compelling evidence. If you have photographs of an accident immediately after it occurred, they could provide critical information for your case.
In some situations, an accident victim has the ability to take pictures with their phone or another device. In other cases, there could be traffic or surveillance cameras in the vicinity that captured what happened. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that any video evidence is preserved before it is erased.
If you want to be compensated for your injuries in a personal injury claim, you need medical documentation regarding the type and severity of your injuries. Medical records evidence the type and extent of your injury, including your doctor’s prognosis and the length of respected recovery.
However, your medical history could also hurt your case. Insurance providers and defense attorneys will want to examine your medical history to determine if you suffered from any pre-existing conditions. A competent personal injury attorney will work to protect your privacy and limit access to certain medical records.
Proving that you suffered an injury is just part of the equation. You will also want to be compensated for any medical expenses or costs. Therefore, it is crucial to gather all your medical bills, statements, and other records related to your care. This also includes transportation costs to and from medical appointments.
Your injury most likely resulted in more than physical harm. A severe injury could keep you out of work for weeks or months. If you are permanently disabled, you might not be able to return to work at all. You are entitled to recover your lost wages and the money you would have earned if you were not injured. Financial documents such as tax returns, bank statements, and pay stubs help establish your economic losses.
To prevail in a personal injury claim, you must establish that another person or business acted negligently. While various physical evidence supports your claim, eyewitness testimonies are also a vital part of the puzzle. If several witnesses corroborate your account of the accident, their statements could help sway a jury or insurance adjuster in your favor. However, if there are statements that contradict your memory of the event, our Maryland personal injury lawyers will have to address them.
Expert witnesses often provide essential testimony during a personal injury case. An expert witness is a highly trained professional in their field who reviews or explains evidence to a jury.
For example, in a medical malpractice lawsuit, a medical professional is necessary to demonstrate that another physician failed to provide the appropriate standard of medical care. An accident reconstructionist could be hired to explain how an accident occurred in a car accident case.
The above is just a sample of the various types of evidence that could help your case. Every personal injury claim is different and will require evidence that is tailored to the specific situation.
Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits Our Attorneys Regularly Handle
Every personal injury case is a bit different, but injuries often fall into certain categories of cases. These cases are often handled in similar ways using similar types of evidence and legal arguments. the following are some of the most common types of cases our attorneys handle:
Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall Injuries
If someone fails to keep their property safe for guests and passers-by, people could be seriously injured. These kinds of injuries are often preventable by performing routine maintenance, cleaning up spills and ice, or putting up warning signs to let people know about the dangers. If you were injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall because someone failed to uphold these standards, you might be entitled to sue them.
Car Accident Injuries
Driving a car is one of the most dangerous things that most people will ever do in their life. Injuries in a car crash can range from minor to severe and even fatal. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a car crash, insurance might not do enough to get you the compensation you need, and you may need to talk to a lawyer about filing a car accident lawsuit.
Premises Liability Injuries
Slip and fall cases are one of the most common types of premises liability injuries, but other injuries can occur because of defects or dangers on someone’s property. If a property owner fails to fix issues related to wiring, structural problems, or other dangers on the premises, you could suffer electrocution, burns, injuries from a structural collapse, falls into dangerous areas, falls from heights, and other injuries.
Medical Malpractice Injuries
When you get medical care, you expect the doctor to do everything they can to diagnose your condition and help you get better. In many cases, the doctor’s care might fall short, and you can usually seek compensation for any effects this has on you economically or physically.
One unfortunately common subcategory of these cases is birth injury cases, where newborns suffer injuries or health conditions because of medical mistakes.
Unfortunately, injuries to the mother and child during childbirth can set your child up for long-term disabilities over the course of their life. Often, these complications are due to human error and could have been avoided or mitigated if handled properly.
Talk to one of our attorneys to learn about your rights in holding healthcare professionals responsible in instances where their error caused a serious birth injury.
Defective and Dangerous Product Injuries
Product manufacturers are held to certain standards when they produce a product and ship it to consumers. These products typically must be free of design or manufacturing defects that might cause someone injuries – and they should come with warnings if there is an inherently dangerous part of the design. If they fail to uphold these standards, victims may be entitled to sue them for their injuries.
No matter how these injuries occur, they can be some of the most debilitating injuries you could possibly suffer. Injury to the brain usually does not repair itself like damage to bone or muscle, and victims of brain injuries often face severe cognitive effects, problems with motor skills, and mood or personality changes. These injuries can be traumatic – e.g., from the blunt force – or from chemical exposure or lack of oxygen.
Some injuries are caused by products that make our lives easier. If a product has a manufacturing defect or a design flaw, the manufacturer could be held liable for any injuries that its product causes.
Do not assume that you used a product incorrectly if you were injured. Speak to one of our Maryland personal injury attorneys to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Victims of spinal cord injuries could face substantial pain and suffering as well as partial or full paralysis. Spinal cord injuries typically affect the rest of the body below the point of injury, with injuries high up the back and neck sometimes causing tetraplegia or quadriplegia.
Injuries to the lower back or mid-back could cause paraplegia. If the injury does not sever the spinal cord, you could still have trouble walking or moving and may need substantial medical care that a lawsuit that the party responsible for your injury should pay for.
In many lawsuits, the surviving children, spouse, or parents of a deceased injury victim sue the at-fault party for their loved one’s death. These wrongful death lawsuits work essentially the same way as other injury cases: you must prove the at-fault party did something wrong that led to the loved one’s death. Our attorneys can help with these kinds of claims.
In addition to these types of cases, you may be able to sue for any accidental injuries caused by another person’s negligence. Our lawyers can investigate your injury case, depose witnesses, and work to build a strong case that can help you get the compensation you need. For help with your case, contact our attorneys today to set up a free legal consultation.
How Do You Hire a Personal Injury Trial Lawyer?
Finding a personal injury trial lawyer is easy, but hiring the best lawyer for your case can prove challenging. You have probably been bombarded with TV commercials, billboards, and endless websites, with everyone claiming they are the best. the most helpful advice for hiring a personal injury lawyer is to meet the lawyer and get a feel for how they will handle your case.
You should find someone who you feel comfortable with and who is responsive to your needs. You will have a lot of questions throughout the various stages of your case. If you have a question, you want to get the answer as soon as possible. Law firms that answer your phone call, paralegals, and legal assistants that return your phone calls and emails if relevant.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we pride ourselves on being overly responsive to our clients. We return phone calls, and we get you the answers you need to make the best decisions for your injury claim. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation and case review, get to know our lawyers, and find out why they have so many happy clients.
If You Were Hurt in Maryland, Our Personal Injury Attorneys Could Help
It is important to choose the right personal injury attorney Maryland residents have chosen for years who will fight to protect their financial future after a serious accident or injury. It is imperative that you choose a lawyer who is qualified to handle your case.
The Maryland personal injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras fight to maximize the compensation our clients receive after an accident, and we have handled hundreds of personal injury cases. Our lawyers work hard to ensure that our clients are taken care of, and we will help you avoid low settlements or insufficient insurance payments. To schedule a free legal consultation with our attorneys, call us today at (410) 694-7291.