The statute of limitations is a Maryland law that sets a time limit for filing claims, lawsuits, or other legal actions against someone who harmed you. The statute must be considered when bringing a personal injury claim, so the best way to ensure you comply with the deadlines is to consult a personal injury lawyer in Maryland.
An experienced attorney will help you understand how the claims process works when the statute of limitations starts and how long it extends to ensure that you do not miss it. The statute of limitations for most personal injury cases in Maryland is three years from the date of the incident. Still, the statute has some exceptions, extensions, and limitations. Although three years might seem like a long period, it is crucial to start building your case with the right Maryland personal injury attorney as early as possible.
The statute of limitations refers to the limited period of time within which you can file a claim or a lawsuit. In the state of Maryland, you generally have three years from the date of an accident to file a claim or civil lawsuit. The clock usually starts running from the date of the accident or an incident, but it is not always the case.
As each case is unique some exceptions may lengthen or even shorten the three-year statute. You must keep in mind that this regulation is extremely harsh, so contacting a personal injury lawyer is the best option to make sure you are informed of all the deadlines.
The three-year rule is applied to:
Some people want to receive financial help as soon as possible. In contrast, others want to wait until they get a more complete picture of the extent of their damages. Because personal injury claims are such complex legal matters, it is recommended that you do not wait until you are even remotely close to the statute to react. If the statute for your claim expires, you will lose a chance to recover damages.
The general idea behind the statute of limitations is to offer practicability and fairness, allowing people to avoid unresolved legal matters indefinitely. The victim is given a limited amount of time to decide whether to recover damages or not. Also, the complex legal system attempts to ensure that each party involved can plan according to the specific deadlines.
Time limits for filing a medical malpractice claim in Maryland are:
When discussing the date when the 3-year limitation period begins, we cannot dismiss mentioning the discovery rule. The clock starts to run from the date when the patient knew or should have known that they had a claim. When the harm is obvious, for example, when a surgeon operated on the wrong limb or the cosmetic surgeon made an error that leaves your face disfigured, the discovery rule does not apply.
However, if a doctor forgot to remove a sponge after the surgery, you may not be aware of the problem until you develop symptoms. Or, if the doctor fails to diagnose cancer promptly, you may not realize that you have a disease until years later. The discovery rule is then applied and serves to change the filing deadline, protect the victims, and gives them a chance to file a claim after the traditional statute of limitations has expired.
The discovery rule may not apply if, for example, the patient ignores the symptoms or refuses to go to the doctor for whatever reason. You cannot simply turn around and try to take advantage of this rule.
Assume that a patient underwent the sub-standard surgery and did not experience any symptoms until later. Then, he or she started having problems and suffered excruciating pain and discovered that a surgical instrument was stuck inside his or her abdomen. The statute of limitations, in this case, will start on the day of discovery, which means on the date the patient started experiencing severe pain. The victim will then have three years from the date of discovery to file a claim.
The time limit for wrongful death claims is three years from the date of the victim’s death. However, an exclusion to this rule exists and applies in cases where a person died from so-called ‘occupational disease.’ It is defined by law as a “disease caused by exposure to any toxic substance in the person’s workplace and contracted by a person in the course of the person’s employment.” (Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-904)
In cases like this, the claim must be filed within ten years of the date of death or three years of the date when the occupational disease was identified as the cause of death, whichever comes first.
Wrongful death claims can be very complicated, so the help of a competent wrongful death attorney is crucial to prepare the claim in such a way that results in a successful outcome.
There is a possibility that in some cases the ‘clock’ on the statute of limitations can be delayed or paused. Besides medical malpractice claims and some cases of wrongful death and sexual assault, there are a few examples where time limits extend.
If the injured person is under legal disability at the time of the incident (a person is minor or has been declared mentally incompetent), the three-year period does not start until the person turns 18 or is declared competent.
Another exception is in cases where the responsible party fraudulently conceals his or her liability from the injured party. The time starts to run from the date the injured person discovered (or should have discovered) the fraud.
For injury claims against a Maryland state or local agency or employee, you also have a limited time to file a claim. Firstly, you must file a claim (or written notice) with the state treasurer within one year of the accident under the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA). If you do not receive a response, or your claim is denied (and it usually is), you are free to file a lawsuit and attempt to hold the government entity or employee liable through the civil court process (within three years from the date of the injury). In cases where the federal government is involved, you have a two-year statute of limitations.
In the chart below, we have presented a general statute of limitations for the most common situations together with the statutory code:
Type of Claim, and Time Limit
|Civil Claim – 3 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-101|
|Assault, libel, slander – 1 year||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-105|
|Fraud – 3 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-101|
|Battery – 3 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-101 |
Ford v. Douglas, 144 Md. App. 620, 623, 799 A.2d 448, 450 (2002)
|Judgments – 12 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-102|
|Written Contracts Under Seal – 12 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-102|
|Recover Land Trespassed Upon – 20 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-103|
|Wrongful Death – 3 years from date of death||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-108|
|Personal Injury – 3 years from date of injury||Courts and Judicial Proceedings. § 5-108|
|Written Contract – 3 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-101|
|Oral contract – 3 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-101|
|Medical Malpractice (age 11+) – lesser of 5 years from date of injury or 3 years from date of discovery||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-109|
|Trespass – 3 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-101|
|Collection of Rent – 3 years||Courts and Judicial Proceedings, § 5-101|
|Default under a lease contract – 4 years||Commercial Law, § 2A–506|
If you do not want to think about the applicable deadlines in your case, consult Maryland personal injury lawyer who has all the necessary skills and knowledge to deal with complicated legal matters and deadlines. As the statute of limitations imposes extremely harsh time limits, do not hesitate to call a lawyer as soon as possible.
Do not wait until the last minute because even the simplest case needs time to be prepared properly – we need to conduct thorough research before we file a claim. With Dubo Law, you can rest assured that your claim will be filed promptly. Contact us and experience professional, prompt, and personable services in Maryland.
Neil Dubovsky graduated with Honors and magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2002. He received the prestigious Faculty Award, which was awarded to the student who best “exhibited unusual qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.” Neil also received an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale Hubbell – the highest rating possible. He is rated as one of the Top 100 Civil Trial Lawyers in Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association and selected to the 2022 Maryland Super Lawyers list. Neil is a husband and father of two beautiful girls.
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