If I’m From Out Of State And Injured In A Maryland Car Accident, Do I Need A Maryland Attorney?
I have represented a great many people over the years who have had the misfortune of being injured while in Maryland on a temporary basis. Some individuals were unfortunately injured in automobile accidents while simply travelling through Maryland to an ultimate destination elsewhere. Some of these former clients were staying in town for business or personal reasons and injured at their place of accommodation or a dining establishment. Unfortunately, all of these individuals were forced to hire an attorney to pursue litigation when an insurance company failed to fairly evaluate their claim and offer reasonable and appropriate compensation.
If you are hurt in Maryland, but live elsewhere, you need a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney.
In these circumstances a question arises: Does such a person need to hire a lawyer in their home state or should they hire a lawyer from Maryland? My standard advice in these circumstances is that it makes sense only to hire a Maryland lawyer. There are 3 reasons why this course of action is the appropriate path.
Maryland courts decide claims involving Maryland personal injuries.
As a general matter where an injury causing event occurs is going to be the location, or venue if you will, of any subsequent court proceedings. If litigation becomes necessary it is vital and will require that the injured person have a lawyer licensed to practice law in Maryland to pursue that claim. There is no reason not to have counsel who is well versed in the nuances in intricacies of Maryland law. Moreover a court will not allow out of state attorney to practice law in Maryland absent special permission -and even then only with Maryland co-counsel.
The insurance company knows an out of state lawyer cannot file suit.
Although there are no statistics or studies that empirically demonstrate this, I have always felt that when an insurance adjuster sees that in individual is represented by out of state attorney, the threat of litigation -if negotiations are unsuccessful- becomes remote. I think a savvy claim adjuster will know that the out of state attorney must refer the case out to Maryland co-counsel. In my opinion this lessened threat of imminent litigation impacts settlement discussions.
Maryland courts have jurisdiction over the parties.
Finally, jurisdiction is the power of a court over a person, among other things. A court must have this authority over individuals before in can decide a case about them. An injured person-called a plaintiff- gives the court jurisdiction by simply filing a lawsuit with the court. Jurisdiction over the defendant however, must be premised on substantive and constitutional law. One time honored bases for jurisdiction is residence or domicile. One can always sue an individual in the state where they live. Where an injured person is travelling through Maryland, and injured in a car accident, it is likely that the other driver is from Maryland, and accordingly a lawsuit could, and in many instances must, be brought in Maryland. If one is injured by a dangerous or defective condition on real property and that real property is located in Maryland, courts would have jurisdiction over that lawsuit as the property is located here. Additionally, Maryland law provides that even where an out of state resident commits an act of negligence injuring another person while in Maryland, courts here have jurisdiction over that foreign individual for purposes of resolving claims about the injury.
Additionally, it is more probable than not that if an accident occurs in here, Maryland law will determine the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved -and this may well be true even if a lawsuit is brought in another state. Here again, it only makes sense to have a lawyer well versed in Maryland's legal principles handling the claim.