Does A Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer Go To Court?
Perhaps a more accurate way to frame this question would be “does a Baltimore personal injury attorney have to go to court in order to win my case”? For all of the obvious reasons, a successful outcome is all that matters. I have always said, and maintain, that when hiring a personal injury attorney for a Baltimore motor vehicle accident, the prospective client will want:
- An attorney that has tried personal injury cases in Baltimore, Maryland, and elsewhere
- An attorney that is willing ready and able to take your personal injury case to trial
Having made these points, let me say that it is not necessary for your claim to be successfully tried before a jury or a judge in order for you to receive financial compensation. Indeed, most personal injury cases in Baltimore, and elsewhere, resolve by way of settlement. So, while I counsel all those considering hiring a personal injury lawyer that you want to lawyer that has successfully tried personal injury cases in your jurisdiction in the past, and also has the willingness and present ability to take your case to trial, if necessary, it is not mandatory that your case actually go to trial for you to receive compensation.
Let’s talk for a moment about what going to court actually means in the context of a Baltimore personal injury case. Attorneys go to court frequently and not surprisingly court-related tasks can range from the mundane, such as filing routine paperwork or picking up common paperwork issued by the court system to the more meaningful, like filing significant things such as motions, attending hearings, status conferences, settlement conferences, and things of this nature. The ultimate reason to “go to court” in Baltimore personal injury matters, of course, is for trial, and that’s what we’re talking about here. A trial of a personal injury case in Baltimore can occur in one of two court systems. The District Court of Maryland, which is generally reserved for smaller cases, having a value of $50,000 or less, and the circuit court for Baltimore City which involves large claims and more serious or complex personal injury claims. So, while an attorney might have to go to court for a variety of reasons what we’re talking about in this instance are the “paydays” and the “money days”, i.e. the trial days.
Trial work is in many, if not most ways, what defines a personal injury attorney. “Trial work” is about is putting on the client’s case in front of a jury or a judge, and asking that decision maker to award financial compensation for that injured person. Any injured individual requires a lawyer that has done this successfully in the past and has the present ability and desire to do so with your case. To be clear, your lawyer does not actually have to try your personal injury case to recover money on your behalf, or to make the claim a successful one. Most cases- and the numbers here vary from in excess to 90% to in excess of 95% of all cases- settle at some point prior to trial. This can range from pre-suit settlement occurring in the early days immediately after a Baltimore car accident to a settlement that occurs on the last possible opportunity, five minutes before trial is to start, literally on the steps of the Baltimore City courthouse. I’ve handled hundreds of each. However, having an attorney with a track record of trying cases, and one who presents a posture of being willing to try your case, today, is always going to occupy a superior negotiating position with respect to the insurance company involved, as contrasted with a lawyer who does not or has not tried personal injury cases.
How Often Does a Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer Go to Court?
A trial is an opportunity for a plaintiff to present their case to the finder of fact. In common parlance, this latter phase simply means the person or body [i.e. jury] decides what happened in the case, and wants to do about it. In a typical Baltimore personal injury case resulting from a motor vehicle accident, that is most likely a claim that is premised on negligence. The first task of the judge or jury entrusted with the case is to determine who is at fault for the accident. Once making that determination, and if they determine the defendant bears responsibility, the second role of the judge, or the jurors, is to fix the amount of compensation to which the injured person is entitled- if any at all. In Baltimore City Maryland, smaller cases involving amounts in controversy of less than $50,000 are heard in the District Court. Here a District Court judge- a seasoned and experienced jurist who has likely tried hundreds or potentially thousands of personal injury cases in their career as a lawyer- will listen closely to the evidence presented and determine what compensation is appropriate for the injury victims. While the amount of the ultimate recovery financially is limited, there are some true advantages to proceeding in the District Court for Baltimore City. It is typically not necessary to retain the services of an expert witness to testify regarding medical causation, or appropriateness and reasonableness of medical charges, and that cost can be saved. Moreover, District Court cases are typically brought to trial in a timeframe of months. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City hears more complex, more significant, or in personal injury cases, those matters where the injuries alleged are serious or catastrophic. Perhaps the key difference between District Court and Circuit Court cases is that in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, both liability and damages are fixed by a jury of 12 people, selected by those licensed to drive in Baltimore, Maryland, and those registered to vote in Baltimore, Maryland. In short- a jury of the injured person’s peers.