Under Maryland law, a person injured in a car accident caused by another driver's negligence has the right to sue that driver for damages. In the case of a fatal accident, the victim's surviving family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent driver. There are time limits, however, in which a lawsuit for injury or wrongful death arising out of a car accident can be commenced. These time limits are known as statutes of limitation.
In car accident injury cases, the lawsuit must ordinarily be commenced within three years of the date of the accident. In wrongful death cases arising out of a car accident, the statute of limitations is also three years, but it runs from the date of the victim's death, which may be later than the date of the accident. In either case, if a lawsuit is filed too late, it will be thrown out of court. The victim or the victim's family must actually file a lawsuit in court within the three years; making a settlement demand or making a claim with the negligent driver's insurance company will not be sufficient.
There are some important exceptions that can extend the statute of limitations in a motor vehicle accident case. If the victim was a minor or suffered from a mental disability on the date of the accident, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the victim reaches legal adulthood or is no longer suffering from the disability.
Statutes of limitation can lead to harsh results if victims or family members fail to act in time. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident should act promptly to find out his or her legal rights.