After being injured in a truck accident, rest and recovery should be your top priorities. However, if you intend to take legal action by filing an injury lawsuit, there are certain deadlines you must be aware of. One of the most important deadlines, called the “statute of limitations,” determines when you must file your suit. In this article, our Baltimore truck accident lawyers answer the question, “What is the statute of limitations on trucking accident injury claims in Maryland?” We’ll also examine what happens when the statute of limitations expires, and whether there are any exceptions to these rules. If you need assistance filing an auto accident claim in Maryland, contact our personal injury lawyers for a free consultation about how we can help.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a legal deadline. Depending on the case, the statute of limitations serves different functions. For instance, in a criminal case, the statute of limitations determines how long prosecutors have to file charges. In a personal injury case, such as a case involving a truck accident, the statute of limitations determines how long the injury victim, or “plaintiff,” has to file his or her lawsuit.
How Long Do I Have to Sue After a Truck Accident in Maryland?
There are different statutes of limitations in different jurisdictions. For example, Maryland’s statute of limitations for fraud is three years, while the equivalent statute of limitations in neighboring states may be longer or shorter by one or more years.
There can also be different statutes of limitations within the same jurisdiction, depending on the nature of the relevant case. For example, Maryland has a longer statute of limitations for cases involving libel (one year) than it does for cases that involve trespassing (three years).
The Maryland statute of limitations on personal injury claims – including those involving truck accidents – is generally three years from the date of injury, in accordance with Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-101. This statute provides the following:
“A civil action at law shall be filed within three years from the date it accrues unless another provision of the Code provides a different period of time within which an action shall be commenced.”
In other words, this means a non-criminal case (“civil action”) must be filed within three years of the date of the accident (“three years from the date it accrues”), unless a different law makes an exception (“provides a different period of time within which an action shall be commenced”).
There is also a three-year statute of limitations on cases involving product liability (defective products), such as defective truck parts, in addition to a three-year statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits. A “wrongful” death is a death that (1) occurred due to a negligent act, and (2) would have allowed the victim to file a lawsuit if he or she had not been killed in the accident. If your loved one was killed in a fatal truck crash, our wrongful death attorneys can help you evaluate your family’s legal options.
What Happens if the Statute of Limitations Expires?
As noted above, the Maryland statute of limitations for truck accident claims is typically three years, with the calendar counting from the date of the accident. That being said, exceptions sometimes arise in situations where the victim did not discover his or her injuries until much later in time. If this occurs, the statute of limitations may be extended, which is known as the “discovery rule.” However, these exceptions normally involve medical malpractice lawsuits. Due to the nature of truck accidents, injuries are typically severe and immediately noticeable.
It is a dangerous gamble to rely on the statute of limitations being extended – or to wait until it is about to expire. If the statute expires before you file, your claim may be barred, leaving you with few if any options to continue pursuing fair compensation. Therefore, after a crash occurs, the safest course of action is to discuss a legal strategy with a reputable and experienced commercial truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
Truck accident claims are complex, and often involve multiple liable parties. Make sure you work with a personal injury attorney who possesses ample experience handling cases involving trucking companies and commercial vehicles like 18-wheelers. Only a semi-truck accident lawyer possesses the detailed understanding of Maryland’s legal system necessary to give your claim the greatest odds of success.
Maryland Truck Accident Lawyers Can File Your Injury Lawsuit
If you were in a truck accident in Maryland, you may be entitled to financial compensation, including compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, property damage, and other losses. Allow the experienced semi-trailer and garbage truck accident lawyers at Bennett & Heyman, P.A. to help evaluate your options. Contact us online to set up a free legal consultation, or call Bennett & Heyman today at (410) 429-7856.