Filing a Claim After a Montgomery County Car Accident

Auto accidents are stressful, but perhaps even more stressful is the legal process that can follow. In Montgomery County, if a person files a car accident claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, they will most likely need the help of a dedicated Montgomery County car accident attorney who has handled similar cases in the area.

Understanding Car Accident Claims in Montgomery County

Typically, when a person says that they are filing a claim, it means that they are placing the at-fault driver’s insurance company on notice of the injury. This means that the claim will be initiated by the injured person with the at-fault company’s insurance carrier. This does not mean that a lawsuit has been filed with the court. Oftentimes, these terms are confused; a person can make an insurance claim and if that is not successful, then they can file a lawsuit.

Montgomery County Courts for Filing an Accident Claim

In Montgomery County, there are generally two courts available to file a civil claim for personal injury. First, there is the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County, which is a court of limited jurisdiction. This means that the maximum recovery in District Court is $30,000. Cases that are litigated in District Court are litigated in front of a judge only. There is no jury trial in the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County. Typically, there is limited discovery in District Court and the matters proceed at a much faster pace than in circuit court.

The other notable fact about District Court is that for any claims filed above $15,000 but below $30,000 the defendant may elect to remove the case from district court and proceed to Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland in order to have the case tried by a jury.

The Circuit Court from Montgomery County, Maryland is a court of general jurisdiction. There, claims are not limited in the amount of recovery and discovery is much more extensive. Trials in the circuit court for Montgomery County, Maryland are often handled by a jury.

Important First Steps with an Attorney

Before a claim is filed, a Montgomery County car accident lawyer will often tell an injured person it is in their best interest to notify the at-fault party’s insurance carrier that they intend to make a claim and to make a demand of them for monetary compensation. This is done for a couple of reasons. First, if the claim can be resolved favorably without litigation, then the claim will be resolved quicker and the injured person will not be forced to incur the cost of litigation. A settlement that can be reached pre-suit, may work out mathematically in favor of the injured person because they will not have to incur the costs of litigation, such as expert witness fees which can significantly impact the financial aspect of the case.

Dismissing a Montgomery County Lawsuit

It is possible for a person to abandon the litigation even after the case is filed, but it does require some additional steps than one may think. When a person files a lawsuit, and the other person has answered the lawsuit, it usually requires both parties to agree to dismiss the case. Anyone that has been sued, usually consents to having the case dismissed. However, in certain circumstances this may be more complex than one initially thinks.

If a lawsuit is filed, you are not forfeiting any rights to negotiate a settlement. Sometimes, the filing of a lawsuit can reinvigorate the parties to consider settling the case outright before the litigation progresses too far.

Post-Filing Negotiations

Negotiations often continue on after the case is filed. However, once the case is filed it typically transfers from the insurance company to an attorney. Sometimes, when a car accident attorney in Montgomery County is involved, the insurance company will turn over the handling of the case to the attorney. The attorney may overrule the claims handler and suggest a settlement; or, conversely, the attorney may feel even more strongly that there should be no settlement in which case the lawsuit is almost guaranteed to end up at trial.

It is certainly possible to continue negotiating a settlement even after the case is filed, but oftentimes, once the lawsuit is filed, the tone of the case can change and it may make settlement of the claim more difficult.