Maryland Statute of Limitations and Discovery Rules

When someone is involved in a Maryland accident due to another person’s negligence, they may consider filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party. There are many procedural rules that must be followed when pursuing a case of this nature. One of the initial issues a potential plaintiff must consider before filing a lawsuit is whether they are in compliance with Maryland’s statute of limitations.

In Maryland, a plaintiff’s claim must be filed within three years of the date the claim “accrues.” In many cases, the case “accrues” when the accident occurs; however, “accrual” is actually a complex legal term that is often the subject of much litigation. This is where Maryland’s discovery of harm rule comes into play.

Maryland Discovery of Harm Rule

While accrual may refer to the date when the plaintiff’s injury actually occurred, this is not necessarily the date of the accident. This situation may arise when the plaintiff’s injury could not have reasonably been discovered until sometime after the accident. In these cases, the statute of limitations does not begin until the injury was discovered.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a personal injury lawsuit discussing the relevant statute of limitations.

The Facts of the Case

The case involved a plaintiff who was severely injured by toxic chemicals while working at an oil and drill site. The plaintiff was employed by an energy company that was hired to drill at well-site with one other drilling company. The accident occurred when an employee of the drilling company asked the plaintiff to clean up some toxic liquid that had spilled. The plaintiff was not provided with any protective equipment and was exposed to the harmful liquid during his cleanup. As a result, he suffered severe burns and was treated at various facilities in the days following the accident. About four months after the accident, he was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer.

Procedural History

About two years after the accident, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against several entities, but he added the drilling company as a defendant about two months after filing his initial lawsuit. The plaintiff added the drilling company to recover damages for his cancer diagnosis, which he argued was a new diagnosis.

The drilling company filed a motion for summary judgement, citing the state’s statute of limitations. The plaintiff countered that the statute of limitations should be tolled because he was not aware that the defendant’s negligence resulted in his cancer diagnosis until the filing date. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, but the appellate court reversed that decision.

State Supreme Court Decision

The relevant statute of limitations in the case was two years after the cause of action accrued. The court determined that it was clear that the plaintiff sustained severe injuries when he was cleaning up the spill, he immediately knew he was injured, and he knew that the defendant’s employee was responsible for asking him to clean up the spill without providing protective equipment. The court found that it was clear that the plaintiff knew his injury accrued that day. As a result, the court reversed the appeals court’s judgment and agreed with the trial court that summary judgment should be granted in favor of the defendant.

Have You Been Involved in an Accident in Maryland?

If you have been involved in an accident or injured due to another party’s negligence, you should contact the Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen have decades of experience handling all types of personal injury lawsuits. They are well-versed in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. law and can assist you in handling all stages of your lawsuit as well as ensuring that all procedural rules are followed. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained. Contact an attorney at 800-654-1949 to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Dismisses Wrongful Death Case, Finding Fatal Accident Involved the Inherent Risks of Horseback Riding, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, April 17, 2018

Appellate Court Discusses Plaintiff’s Punitive Damages Claim in Recent Dog Bite Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, April 3, 2018

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