If a victim is injured in a Maryland motor vehicle accident, there may be a question of where a defendant can be sued. Jurisdiction refers to the ability of a court to hear and make a decision about a case. Some courts are limited to hearing certain types of cases and courts can only hear a case if a party has sufficient contacts with the place where the court is located. Personal jurisdiction specifically refers to a court’s power to exercise jurisdiction over the party being sued. Generally, a defendant must have sufficient contacts in the state for a court to exercise jurisdiction over the defendant.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important decision in a case considering personal jurisdiction after two personal injury lawsuits were filed against Ford after car accidents in Montana and Minnesota. In one case, the tread separated from a rear tire, killing the driver in the crash. In the other case, a passenger’s airbag failed to deploy in a crash, causing the passenger serious brain damage. The victims were residents of their respective states and in each case, the state exercised jurisdiction in the products liability cases. Ford argued that the state courts did not have jurisdiction because the company had not designed, manufactured, or sold the particular vehicles involved in the accident in the states.
Ford is incorporated in Delaware and has its headquarters in Michigan. It markets sells, and services its products throughout the United States and abroad and encourages its vehicles to be resold. The U.S. Supreme Court held that a state court may exercise specific jurisdiction where the defendant purposely availed itself “of the privilege of conducting activities” within the state and the claims “arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts” with the state. The Court further held that Ford did not have to sell the car or design and manufacture the vehicle in the state for specific jurisdiction. The Court held that in these cases, Ford purposefully availed itself of the privilege of conducting activities in each state. Ford advertised and marketed its vehicles in the states and fostered ongoing connections to owners of Ford vehicles. It reasoned that cultivating a market for a product in a state and the product malfunctioning there was sufficient for personal jurisdiction, and thus, the cases could continue against Ford in those states. The Supreme Court’s decision means that a Maryland car accident victim may be able to sue a manufacturer in a product liability suit in Maryland even if the car was not designed, manufactured, or sold in the state.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Maryland Auto Defect Cases?
Under the applicable statute of limitations in Maryland, vehicle owners have three years from the date of discovery to file a product liability claim based on an alleged auto defect. However, whenever possible, it is best to initiate a claim as soon as possible to ensure the availability of all necessary evidence.
Consult with a Maryland Car Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a Maryland car accident or another type of accident, consult with an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney. The dedicated personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen handle all types of personal injury claims in Baltimore and throughout Maryland. The team of professionals at Lebowitz & Mzhen personal injury lawyers can assist injured victims in recovering from their injuries by guiding them through the legal process. Lebowitz & Mzhen can help you assess your situation today. Call them now at (800) 654-1949 or contact them online to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.