How long does it typically take in Maryland to settle a personal injury case?
A distinction must be made here between the forms of overall “resolution” of a personal injury case - whether by settlement or verdict after trial. An amicable, pre-suit settlement is one way that a case can conclude, not the only one, and the timeframes are different based on the path to closure. A case that goes to trial can take many months or years to resolve. A case that settles is generally resolved within a shorter time.
As a general rule, a typical Maryland automobile accident case involving personal injury that is to be resolved by settlement can be concluded in about 3 months from the completion of treatment. If additional negotiations are required that time, of course, is longer. If the case involves a significant, serious, or catastrophic Maryland automobile accident, those time periods would almost certainly be extended based on the complexities of the issues.
Of course, each case is unique and the general time periods may or may not apply to a specific factual circumstance. As a general proposition, and in my practice, about three weeks after the inured person’s course of treatment has concluded, a demand package will be sent to the insurance company for the at-fault party. Although there are no specific timeframes within which that insurance company must act, typically a response will be given within 30 to 60 days of receipt of that package. Upon receipt of that response -and some additional negotiation- about three months after the completion of treatment you should be in a position to determine whether or not you wish to settle your injury claim or proceed on to litigation and ask a jury or judge or jury to decide what constitutes fair compensation for your case.
Is it worth hiring an attorney for a minor auto accident?
Yes. An insurance company representative will invariably tell you that any accident is “minor” one. Minor accidents do not cost an insurance company a lot of money. A major, or significant, accident may cost that same company a tremendous amount of money. Make no mistake, these verbal labels attached to a personal injury causing event can have a substantial impact on the ultimate compensation or financial recovery from that event. Some attorneys advertise that they handle only” serious” “significant” or “catastrophic” personal injury cases. It has always been my view that anytime someone sustains a personal injury- the matter is serious. On the other hand, insurance companies and their representatives will try to minimize the significance of any injury-causing event from the very inception of the claim. One method involves using phrases such as “ minor”, “low impact”, “minimal property damage”, and the ubiquitous “only soft tissue injury” label. So while the use of these labels is prevalent, the measure of recovery for any case-money damages- is the same. Any injured individual is entitled to recover their economic damages, which would be lost wages medical expenses and out-of-pocket expenses, as well as their non-economic damages which would include things like physical or mental distress, discomfort or anxiety, suffering, pain, and disability, from the at-fault drive or their insurance company.
How long after you've been in a car accident can you still file a lawsuit?
The general statute of limitations in Maryland is applicable to automobile accidents that cause injury to other individuals. The standard statute of limitations in Maryland is 3 years. A person injured in an automobile accident must file a claim in a court of law - or have otherwise resolved their legal claim with the at-fault party- within 3 years or they will be forever barred from bringing that claim. There are some caveats to this general rule. If the at fault party is the employee of a State, County, or local government, that entity generally is entitled to written notice of the event far in advance of the expiration of the statute of limitations and generally within one year. If that notice has not been given, the injured person may, and likely will, lose their right to recover. Although the statute of limitations is 3 years, I can conceive a few circumstances where it makes sense to wait until the near expiration of that time to file a claim. Over the course of three years, witnesses may disappear, memories may fade and important evidence may be lost. My general advice would be to file a claim as soon as practicable after negotiations with an insurance company have proven to be unsuccessful.
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