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Why Does Timing Matter In A Maryland Personal Injury Case ?

There is a theme running through the law: those who “sleep on their rights” should, at some point in time, be precluded from pursuing or exercising those rights. Perhaps the clearest example of this concept is embodied in the various statutes of limitation that dictate when an aggrieved individual must raise their claim in a court of law, or be forever precluded from doing so subsequently. In Maryland the statute of limitations for negligence, and indeed for many civil actions, is 3 years from the date of the injury-causing event. A similar principle -called laches- does not utilize a specific time frame. Rather, this doctrine is premised on equitable considerations used to determine whether or not an individual has simply waited too long to pursue their claim. The basic underpinning here is that -after the passage of a given amount of time or a flexible amount of time in the case of laches- evidence may be lost, memories may fade, and an individual might be confronted with a lawsuit claim after valuable defensive materials have been lost.  

The failure to timely assert a claim or a right can also result in a judicial determination of waiver. In this context, an individual who has a legal or contractual right to take a given action, but for whatever reason opts not to, may be deemed to have foregone their chance to exercise their rights, privileges or options.  

The failure to act, although not necessarily addressed by strict legal doctrines, can also have deleterious, negative consequences for a Maryland car accident injury claim. Although more of a practical consideration rather than a strict legal requirement,  individuals who do not promptly seek medical attention after an injury-causing event may later be confronted with the assertion that their failure to seek medical care in the hours after an accident was suggestive of them not being injured at all, or at least not seriously. It can be an insulting and infuriating suggestion. This is a position frequently taken by claims adjusters during the negotiation process, and by skilled defense attorneys working for the insurance company at trial.  

The failure to promptly secure vital evidence can lead to similar difficulty. In this related concept, those who do not promptly seek to gather and preserve evidence may find that when that evidence is needed at trial or during the litigation phase of the case, that evidence has been lost, misplaced, destroyed, erased or is otherwise unavailable. It should also be noted that in addition to the statutes of limitation discussed above, if a claim is ultimately to be brought against a government entity in Maryland, notice must be given to that entity well ahead of the filing of any legal claim. The State of Maryland and its political subdivisions are entitled to receive written notice in a specified manner within just one year of the injury causing event. Failure to give this notice will have the same effect as not filing within the applicable statute of limitations. That is to say, the injured individual will be precluded from subsequently pursuing their claim in a court of law even though they filed within three years.