Monday, July 12, 2010

The Right to a Jury Trial in a Maryland Accident Case has Changed

Until now if you were involved in an accident and claimed damages of $10,000 or less, you and the insurance carrier were entitled to a judge trial and not a jury trial. Jury trials cost a great deal more. Doctors who charge thousands to appear need to be called. Years ago there was no dollar limit on jury trial requests. As a result, insurance company lawyers would request jury trials in small cases as a means to discourage attorneys from taking them. It was a strategic move to reduce personal injury claims. For example, if an automobile accident case that occurred in Columbia in Howard County was worth $5,000 and the doctor charged two thousand to appear, than the economics of a Howard County jury trial didn't make sense. It discouraged many attorneys from taking smaller claims.

As a result, plaintiff's lawyers fought hard to get legislation passed requiring at least a demand for $10,000 in damages before either side had a right to a jury trial. The change has enabled countless injured people to pursue automobile accident claims when their injuries were soft tissue and the damages they claimed were under $10,000. With the passage of time and higher medical costs many small claims can not be concluded for $10,000.

Rather than have these claims decided in the circuit court before a jury, the plaintiff's bar has been successful in getting the damage limit for a jury trial request raised to $15,000. These smaller claims now can be done quicker in the district court and with less cost. In the district court if your attorney files the proper papers, evidence of your medical bills and treatment is admissible without calling the physician at trial.