Maryland personal injury law offers causes of action that allow plaintiffs to receive compensation for injuries caused by the intentional conduct or negligence of another. However, these options are not around forever. There are time limits called a statute of limitations that limit when you can bring an action and recover damages. You need to be aware of these laws so you can act quickly to address your rights.
DuBoff & Associates handles every case with the statute of limitations in mind so all steps are completed on time. Hiring an attorney is the best way to avoid losing a case due to missing this vital deadline.
Time Limits on Personal Injury Cases
Generally, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is three years from the date of injury. For example, if another driver sideswipes your vehicle on July 7, 2017, you have until July 7, 2020 to file a lawsuit. This also applies to other types of personal injury cases including premises liability (slip and fall), product defects, and dog bites. The day of the slip and fall, dog bite or discovery of a product defect is the first day the statute of limitations begins to accrue.
If you sustain injuries arising from an intentional assault, your statute of limitations drops to one year. This is due to the fact that this very personal crime often shows its impacts immediately. Most people do not wait long to pursue damages in these instances, especially if they feel they did nothing to provoke it or if criminal charges arise against the other party. So, if instead of an accident, you are attacked in a bar fight on July 7, 2017, you will have until July 7, 2018 to file a legal action.
Other matters are more complex. Medical malpractice has two statutes of limitations. You must either file a lawsuit within three years of discovering the injury or five years from the date of injury, whichever is earlier. Basically, you have two years to realize that medical treatment caused physical damage and three years after that to act in civil court.
Another complex area includes injuries arising from child sex abuse. An April 2017 law extended the statute of limitations to 20 years after the victim reaches the age of majority, unless the perpetrator is successfully convicted. If that occurs, the statute of limitations decreases to three years after the date of conviction. This includes actions against any third parties who may have been negligent in allowing the abuse to occur.
Purpose of a Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations exist for every cause of action from trespass to breach of contract. Maryland negligence law contains statutes of limitations to promote fairness. It does not serve justice if a defendant has a claim hanging over their head indefinitely, so there is a deadline for when a plaintiff can bring damages. Prescribed limits allow a plaintiff time to fully assess damages and make a decision on how to proceed while also allowing a defendant to be relieved of responsibility if a plaintiff decides not to act.
Think of a statute of limitations as a strict timeframe to decide how you wish to address damages. The clock starts ticking on the date of your injury and counts down from there. Failure to act in a timely manner waives your rights to compensation. If you think you may have a personal injury claim, the first thing to realize is you do not have forever to act on it.
Act Soon or Lose Your Right to Compensation
While this may appear to give you plenty of time, three years concludes quickly. During that time, you are likely completing medical treatment and attempting to return to your normal routines. If you are struggling at work or facing family difficulty as a result of injuries, it is easy to become distracted and fail to act on time. The more serious your injuries, the more difficult it is to follow up on what you deserve.
That is why it is important to see an attorney after suffering a personal injury. You may decide to not pursue a claim but it will at least be an informed decision, not one made from neglect or haste. DuBoff & Associates works throughout Washington D.C. and all of Maryland, including Washington, Howard, Calvert, Charles, and Kent counties, to support the rights of personal injury victims. Contact us online or call (301) 495-3131 to schedule a consultation.