Earlier this month, an appellate court in Arizona issued a written opinion in a car accident case, illustrating the importance of abiding by all procedural court rules as well as naming the proper parties at the outset of a case. The case acts as an important reminder to car accident victims that there is no substitute for a knowledgeable and dedicated personal injury attorney to assist in the preparation of a Maryland car accident case.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a driver who was insured by the defendant insurance company. After the accident, the responding police officer provided the plaintiff with the at-fault driver’s name and insurance information. One day before the two-year statute of limitations expired, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s insurance company, seeking compensation for the injuries she sustained in the crash. The plaintiff’s lawsuit claimed that the insurance company “intentionally delayed, postponed, or otherwise disregarded the resolution of this matter; at times providing false information.”
In the state where the case was filed, accident victims do not have a right to file a lawsuit directly against an insurance company; the claim must be filed against the driver. The defendant insurance company objected to it being named as a defendant, and the plaintiff withdrew the case so that she could name the at-fault driver as a defendant and remove the driver’s insurance company.
The plaintiff re-filed the case, naming the proper party as a defendant. However, the at-fault driver then objected to the claim because it was filed beyond the statute of limitations.
The court concluded that the plaintiff’s amended complaint naming the at-fault driver “related back” to the original complaint against the insurance company, and thus it was considered timely. The court explained that, under state statute, an amended complaint relates back to the original (and thus is considered to have been filed at the time the original was filed) if several factors are met. In this case, it came down to whether the at-fault driver “knew or should have known that, but for a mistake concerning the identity of the proper party, the action would have been brought against the party.”
The court held that the at-fault driver should have been aware that there was the potential of a lawsuit following the accident with the plaintiff. As a result, the court allowed for the plaintiff’s amended complaint to relate back to the original, and the case will proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. It is important for Maryland accident victims to keep in mind that all cases are subject to strict procedural rules that, if violated, may result in the dismissal of a case. The dedicated Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience assisting victims with pursuing the compensation they deserve for the injuries they’ve sustained. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.
More Blog Posts:
Plaintiff’s Jury Verdict Affirmed in Recent Product Liability Case Against Auto Manufacturer, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published September 18, 2017.
Court Allows Plaintiff’s Recovery Against At-Fault Motorist’s Insurance Company Despite Subsequent Bankruptcy Filing, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 3, 2017.