Car Crash - What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Injuries in Maryland?

The Statute of Limitations for car accident injuries in Maryland sounds technical but it’s very important for people who make a claim against an insurance company. If you wait too long, you lose the ability to gain compensation for your injuries for good.

It’s very important to know how long you have to make a claim for a car accident in Maryland. Car accident injury cases take careful planning. Attorneys demand many documents through discovery. They may take evidence from witnesses during detailed hearings called depositions. You should not wait until the deadline is looming to file a lawsuit. Baltimore car accident lawyer Randolph Rice is here to help you understand the ins and outs of injury claim deadlines after a collision in Maryland.

How Long Do You Have to Report Car Accident Injuries in Maryland?

Under § 5-101 of the Maryland code for Courts and Judicial Proceedings, a lawsuit must be filed within three years of the accident that led to your injuries.

This is the rule of thumb for most car accident cases. There are certain limited exceptions.

People who wait until weeks before the cutoff date take a major risk. Many lawyers are wary about filing a lawsuit with little time on their side. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to find evidence related to the wreck. The memories of witnesses become cloudy and records are often lost and destroyed.

The statute of limitations deadline is a rigid one. Your attorney cannot routinely extend it. People who fail to file a lawsuit within the three-year period permanently lose the right to bring a case no matter how serious their injuries. Three years seems like a long time but the time moves fast.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Begin in Maryland?

You should always know exactly when the Statute of Limitations in Maryland started so as you know the cutoff date for filing a lawsuit.

The counting period begins from the date you suffered an injury in a car wreck. If you were injured on Jan. 2, 2018, you have until Jan. 2, 2021 to file a claim in court. If you file on Jan. 4, 2021, the statute of limitations will have expired and your case is likely to be dismissed.

The date of harm refers to either an injury or the date of property damage to your car or the date a contract was broken in contractual lawsuits.

Exceptions to the Deadline in Car Accident Cases

There are exceptions to the start of the limitation period, although there’s not a lot of wriggle room in car accident cases. You may be able to argue for a longer period if you did not realize you were injured until later and that realization was reasonable.

This is more common in medical malpractice cases. For instance, a surgeon leaves an instrument or a surgical sponge in a patient. The patient has no way of knowing about the surgeon’s mistake at the time. Over the next few months, the patient experiences pain and discomfort. He seeks treatment. Six months later, he is told the implement left in his body caused his health problems. Because it was reasonable to be unaware of the problem, the statute of limitations would likely begin on the day the patient learned of the surgeon’s mistake.

Car crash victims are aware of the date and time of their accident. However, occasionally a car crash victim sustains a hidden injury like a mild traumatic brain injury. Some brain injuries are subtle and difficult to diagnose. They may not discover they sustained this until they are diagnosed weeks later. The statute of limitations might begin on the day you discovered harm occurred or the day a judge believes you should have discovered the harm.

Child Injuries and Statute of Limitations in Maryland

Minors are given three years after reaching the “age of majority” to file a lawsuit. The age of majority is 18. The 2002 case of Mason v. Board of Education of Baltimore County considered when a minor becomes an adult. The judges decided it is the day before his or her 18th birthday, rather than the birthday itself. For all practical purposes, a minor has until the age of 21 to bring a personal injury lawsuit for a car wreck injury sustained under the age of 18.

Typically, a claim for medical bills relating to the car wreck that injured a child is the responsibility of the parent and the adult statute of liability applies for claims.

Statute of Limitations of Car Crash Wrongful Death Claims

On occasions, motorists suffer critical injuries in Baltimore or elsewhere. They may not survive. A wreck victim sometimes dies days or even weeks after sustaining injuries in the hospital.

Under Maryland law, the statute of limitation for wrongful death claims gives family members or the deceased’s estate three years from the date of the death to make a claim, rather than the date of the accident. Always check with your attorney about how long you have to bring a case. There are exceptions to the three-year rule.

Notice Requirements in Claims Against Maryland Local Governments

Not all car accident claims are brought against private car owners. Every year, people driving trash trucks, police cars, and city work vans hit and injure other motorists. You may have grounds to sue a city, county, the state of Maryland, or another government entity.

People who think they have three years to bring a claim often face a shock. The Maryland Local Government Tort Claims states a lawsuit against a local government or its employees cannot be brought unless the victim gives notice of the claim within one year of the injury. The claimant must give notice in writing and state details like the place, time, and cause of the injury.  

This is very little time. Although lawmakers said the rule was intended to allow government entities time to investigate, the real purpose appears to be to limit claims. It certainly works in many cases. You should talk to an attorney if you believe you were hit by someone driving for a city, county, or another government entity. The Maryland Local Government Tort Claims Act contains a wide definition of government entities you should notify.

You may not realize the employees of a community college or a library are local government employees covered by the act.  Even if you know the driver who hit you was working as a public employee at the time, it’s not always easy to figure out which authority he or she worked for.

The notice requirement must be filed before a lawsuit is brought against the public body.

Call Baltimore, MD Car Accident Attorney Randolph Rice Today

Statute of limitations questions are complicated. If you make a mistake and miss a deadline, you will likely lose the chance to file a lawsuit and not be compensated for your injuries.

There are many reasons why car accident claimants should file a lawsuit soon after an accident, once the extent of their injuries is apparent. A Maryland injury lawyer will ensure you meet the deadline and avoid the traps. Three years seems like a long time, but it goes fast. Read our questions about whether it’s too late to hire a car accident lawyer in Maryland and call us at (410) 694-7291.