Maryland Car Accident Lawyer Educates Clients On Pros & Cons Of Where To File

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Doug Stevens, a Maryland attorney who has practiced law for 30 years and whose firm focuses on personal injury and car accident matters in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, has been educating clients on the pros and cons of where to file cases for years. In a recent interview, we asked him to educate us.

Maryland courts differ

Unlike other states, Maryland does not have a damages threshold to file a lawsuit, according to Stevens, who explained, “You can sue in our state District Courts for up to $5,000 and get the benefit of the small claims rules, or you can sue for up to $10,000 and the defense cannot jury-demand you. You can also sue up to $25,000 in District Court and not have to bring the doctor to court. We have a statute that lets you get your medical bills into evidence if you provide them with timely notice to the other side.”

Stevens says that one of his jobs as a Maryland personal injury and car accident lawyer is to educate the client as to the pros and cons of where to file. He explained how it works, “If it’s an average size case, we try to have the client focus on whether he or she wants to sue for $10,000 or less because that means that they cannot be jury-demanded. Of course, it depends on who’s on the bench and whether a bench trial is preferable to a jury trial.”

Wait and see or hire an attorney now?

We asked Stevens whether he would advise someone who’s been in a car accident that resulted in injuries that didn’t require a great deal of medical care whether they should wait and see if those injuries develop into something more serious or hire an attorney right away. He said he would advise the latter – and for very practical reasons:

I would advise them to contact an attorney right away. If you don’t document your injuries immediately, then you’re not waiting it out – you’re giving it up. There’s no waiting it out with regard to an injury. Minor injuries are compensable under the law. It’s a beautiful system we have. Can you imagine what it was like in the old days when people used to go to their trunks, bring out their tire irons and threaten each other? The average American male tends to place more importance on his car than his body. As a result, tempers can be extremely flammable in those situations.

While Stevens believes that the insurance system is a beautiful system, he also told us that he’s seen how the tragic outcomes of improperly documented cases affect not only plaintiffs, but also insurance adjusters. “Sit down and have a few drinks with insurance adjusters and you will hear how painful it is for them to handle cases where bad injuries result in low settlements and low injuries result in high settlements – all because of how a claim was documented.”

Contacting an experienced Maryland car accident attorney will be able to evaluate your situation and discuss what options might be best for you.

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