Personal injury cases are often more complex than accident victims originally believe. One reason for this is that determining who may be liable for the accident is not always a straightforward task. Commonly, an accident involving only two vehicles involves more than just two parties. For example, if the at-fault driver was an on-duty employee who was operating within the scope of his employment at the time of the accident, the driver’s employer may also be a party to the lawsuit.
Naming all potentially liable parties from the outset of a personal injury case is extremely important for several reasons. Of course, it is more expedient to have all potentially liable parties involved from the beginning of a lawsuit. However, in some cases, a failure to do so may also result in a plaintiff’s inability to collect compensation for their injuries. This is especially the case when the later-named parties are only added after the statute of limitations has run out. A recent case decided by one state’s supreme court illustrates the trouble one plaintiff had in naming the proper party.
Sellers v. Kurdilla: The Facts
Mrs. Sellers sustained injuries when she was rear-ended by another vehicle occupied by several men. Later, she filed a lawsuit against the owner of the vehicle, thinking that he had been the driver. The car’s owner asked the court to dismiss the case, explaining that he was not the driver at the time of the accident. The plaintiff then amended the complaint to add the name of the driver. However, this amendment was made after the statute of limitations had expired.
The actual driver of the vehicle responded to Sellers’ complaint by asking the court to dismiss the case because it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired. The court agreed and dismissed the case. Sellers appealed to the state supreme court.
On appeal, the court determined that the amended complaint “related back” to the first complaint, and therefore it should be considered timely and within the statute of limitations. The court explained that, although the amended complaint was filed after the statute of limitations, since the subject matter was related, and the newly named defendant was not prejudiced by the delay, the amended complaint “related back” to the original complaint, and thus it was deemed timely.
It is important to note that the relation-back doctrine in Maryland is similar to that analyzed in the above case, but each situation is different, and anyone considering filing a personal injury lawsuit in Maryland should consult with a Maryland personal injury attorney.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. It is very important that you consult with an experienced attorney early in the process to ensure that all potentially liable parties are named at the outset of the case so that you avoid any confusion or complications that may otherwise arise. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Maryland car accident attorney.
More Blog Posts:
Workers’ Compensation May Be the Sole Remedy for Some, But Not All, Accident Victims, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published August 2, 2016.
Court Resolves Ambiguity in Insurance Contract in Favor of Insured, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published August 16, 2016.