What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Maryland?
For readers whose legalese is a little rusty, a “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a strict time limit on a prospective plaintiff’s right to go to court and file a lawsuit after suffering some type of harm or loss. There are different deadlines depending on the kind of case you want to file, but the time limit is almost always expressed in years.
As is the case in most states, the statute of limitations that affects car accident lawsuits in Maryland is usually the same as the larger one that applies to all personal injury claims. Specifically, Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code section 5-101 says that a civil lawsuit for personal injury “shall be filed within three years from the date it accrues.”
That’s just another way of saying that a plaintiff has three years to get the initial complaint filed in court, and the “clock” starts running on the date of the injury. (Note: Keep in mind that if someone dies as a result of the accident and their family wants to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the deadline is still three years, but the “clock” starts on the date of the person’s death, which can be different from the date of the accident.)
So, after a car accident, the three-year deadline applies to all lawsuits for injury or vehicle damage, whether the claim is made by a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian.
Regardless of the basis for the lawsuit, its chances for success will depend on the plaintiff’s ability to prove that someone’s negligence was the cause of the underlying crash. Learn more about Car Accidents Caused by Negligence.
What happens if you try to file your claim after Maryland’s three-year deadline has passed? The court will almost certainly dismiss the lawsuit as time-barred, and that will be the end of your case. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how the statute of applies to your situation.
Even if you’re confident that your case will be resolved through the car insurance claim process, you’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time to file a lawsuit in case you need to -- if for no other reason than that you’ll have more leverage during settlement talks. If the filing deadline is coming up, you might want to talk with a Maryland car accident attorney to make sure your legal rights are protected.
by: David Goguen, J.D.