In some cases, a plaintiff may need to add or change the defendant in a Maryland car accident case after the case has already been filed. Maryland Rule 2-341 explains when a party may amend pleadings in a case. Some of the circumstances in which a party may amend pleadings under the rule are to “correct misnomer of a party” and to “add a party or parties.” However, amending a pleading may be tricky after the statute of limitations has run, depending on the amendment.
In a recent case, the Virginia Supreme Court explained under what circumstances an amendment is allowed after a party is misnamed, under Virginia law. In that case, the plaintiff was injured in a car accident and filed suit seeking damages. In the complaint, the plaintiff identified the at-fault driver as Michael M. The police report had listed Michael M. as the driver, but the plaintiff later learned that the driver was actually Michael’s son, Noah M. The plaintiff then filed a new complaint, arguing that the use of the wrong name in the complaint was a misnomer rather than a misjoinder. But the defendant argued that the suit was barred by the statute of limitations because the second complaint was filed after the statute of limitations had run.
The Virginia Supreme Court explained that a misnomer is a mistake in the name, as opposed to a misjoinder, which is a misidentification of the party. The distinction is significant because, in the case of a misnomer, a party can amend the pleading even after the statute of limitations expires. The court held that in this case the misidentification was a misnomer. The complaint alleged that the driver was negligent, but used the driver’s wrong name, based on the incorrect police report. Thus, it was not a mistake of a party but only of the name.
Maryland recognizes the doctrine of “relating back,” meaning that if the doctrine applies, the amended cause of action relates back to the original filing and is not barred by limitations. If the amendment only corrects the name of an original party, the doctrine applies, but if a new defendant is added, the doctrine of relating back does not apply. Maryland courts have explained that if the factual circumstances are essentially the same after the amendment, the amended cause of action is not barred by the statute of limitations. However, courts will generally consider whether the new party had previous notice of the plaintiff’s intent to sue.
Discuss Your Case with a Maryland Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in a Maryland car accident, contact an experienced injury lawyer to discuss your case. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we treat every client with the personal attention that they deserve, taking the time to understand their situation and tailor a plan to meet their individual needs. Our attorneys will guide you through each step of the legal process. To set up a free consultation, call us at (800) 654-1949 or contact us online via our online form.