In some Maryland car accident cases, where the case is filed and litigated may be one of the first disputed issues that must be resolved by the court. For example, most Maryland accident victims would prefer to file their cases in a convenient venue, making trips to court less burdensome. In some cases, certain other considerations may also come into play, such as the local court rules or customs.
In a recent state court appellate opinion, the court discussed whether the defendant’s request to transfer the plaintiff’s case to a venue more convenient to him was properly denied by the lower court.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiffs were injured in a car accident when the defendant rear-ended them. Evidently, a vehicle swerved into the plaintiff’s lane, requiring the plaintiff-driver to quickly apply the brakes. The defendant, who was traveling directly behind the plaintiffs’ vehicle at the time, failed to stop in time and ran into the back of the plaintiff’s car. The driver that swerved in front of the plaintiff’s car sped away and was never located.
The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the “John Doe” driver as well as the defendant. The lawsuit was filed in the county where the accident occurred. The defendant sought to transfer the case to the county where he lived. He argued that, under state law, venue is generally appropriate where the defendant resides.
The plaintiffs cited the state’s uninsured motorist (UIM) statute, permitting a case against an unidentified driver to be filed in either the county where the accident occurred or the county where the plaintiff resides. Essentially, the plaintiffs argued that the case named two defendants and, while the named defendant sought a transfer to the county where he lived, venue was also appropriate in the county where the accident occurred based on the UIM statute.
The court began its analysis by noting that the defendant was correct in general terms that venue is appropriate where the defendant resides. However, here, the court noted that the UIM statute provided clarification for a limited set of cases where a case was filed against an unknown motorist.
The court explained that it has a duty, when possible, to interpret laws such that they do not conflict. Here, if the court adopted the defendant’s interpretation pf the laws, the UIM statute would not be given any effect. However, by adopting the plaintiffs’ proposed interpretation, the court is able to give effect to both statutes. Thus, the court found in favor of the plaintiff and did not permit the transfer of the plaintiffs’ case.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, the attorneys at the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC can help. We have been representing Maryland injury victims for decades in all types of personal injury matters, including Maryland car accident cases. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case, call 410-654-3600 today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Finds that Car Dealership’s Insurance Policy Did Not Cover Customers on a Test-Drive, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published August 7, 2018.
Appellate Court Discusses Employer Liability in Recent Pedestrian Accident, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published July 17, 2018.
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