New Ballot Measure Brings Faster and Greater Recovery to Personal Injury Victims
Wondering how long your personal injury lawsuit will take? Odds are a new Maryland law has affected that answer. It’s been half a year since Maryland voters went to the polls on November 8, 2022, where a ballot measure was passed that has positively impacted the litigation process for Furman | Honick Law’s personal injury clients. Last year, voters amended Maryland’s Declaration of Rights to increase the “amount in controversy” (amount of money requested) where a jury trial may be demanded in civil proceedings. That’s right – not every trial is decided by a jury. Most personal injury trials are decided by a single judge, commonly called a bench trial. However, those cases can be sent to a court with a jury if the amount in controversy is above a certain amount. This amount was established at $5,000 in 1992, increased to $10,000 in 2006, and again to $15,000 in 2010. The new ballot measure increased the amount from $15,000 to $25,000.
How does this new law speed up cases and put more money in our clients’ pockets? To simplify, Maryland has two levels of courts, the District Court and the Circuit Court. A case will go to the District Court when the amount requested is less than $30,000, which are most cases. The District Court offers simplified rules which sets a trial date much sooner, allowing our clients to reach a resolution to their case much more quickly and move on with their lives. Typically, a personal injury victim gets a trial date in District Court within 90 days of filing a lawsuit. On the other side, the Circuit Court exercises jurisdiction over cases where a jury trial is demanded. Because of the Circuit Court’s complexity, trial dates in some jurisdictions are assigned a year or more away.
How Has This Law Effected Our Clients’ Recovery?
This law has been a significant win for our clients. Prior to this law, the insurance companies could demand a jury trial for District Court cases where the amount requested was greater than $15,000. This would result in the case being transferred to a Circuit Court where the case would get heard by a jury, thus taking much longer to finish. Knowing this, insurance companies would take advantage of the previous law to both increase the litigation costs to injury victims, and to greatly delay the trial of the case. Now, if a case is filed for $25,000 or less, the insurance companies can’t delay your case by transferring it to Circuit Court. In turn, the rule greatly limits the insurance companies’ ability to stall and refuse to offer fair settlement amounts to victim’s whose lives have been upended by their insured’s negligence.
An Owings Mills Personal Injury Lawyer Will Advise You on Relevant Laws
This summary of the new jury trial law in Maryland is useful, but you can count on Furman | Honick Law to address challenges with your case. For more information, please call (410) 844-6000 or go online to schedule a free consultation at our Owings Mills or Baltimore offices and meet with one of our Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers.