Maryland Car Accidents: Choosing The Right Venue & Understanding The Process
When you’re involved in an auto accident in Maryland, it’s important to know which venue best suits your case and how the process works so that you can maximize your chances of recovery. To explain those issues, we interviewed Doug Stevens, an attorney who has practiced law for 30 years and whose firm focuses on personal injury and car accident matters in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Maryland Car Accident Attorney Doug Stevens
We asked Stevens to explain the first legal issue he confronts in a Maryland car accident lawsuit. Here’s what he told us:
The first issue we confront with a Maryland case is jurisdictional. Because we practice in a tri-state region, we can have a case where the accident happens in Maryland, but the driver lives in Virginia and the insurance on the car derives from a District of Columbia policy. So, right off the bat we have an issue with what jurisdiction we want the case to be in to maximize the recovery. On top of that, there are potentially three different federal districts serving our area.
Jurisdictional preferences have changed a great deal over the last two decades, according to Stevens. He explained, “When I started the practice of law, the District of Columbia was a forum of choice, but they have changed the format there so that juries come from a different pool. The two major Maryland counties next to the District of Columbia are Prince George’s County and Montgomery County. Prince George’s County is now the best jurisdiction we can get where we assume that the jury will not be unbiased by the endless blitzes of insurance company advertising.”
Understanding the Maryland process
Understanding the process in Maryland is also important. We asked Stevens how it works in his office. He said:
When we get a call, we pride ourselves in going straight to the heart of the matter. During your first call, if you’re willing, I will try to take a recorded statement from any witnesses. We have an expression in our office that one witness can trump three police officers. Police officers can have opinions and are famous for such in our area, so the witness is king. Also, before you get off the phone with me, we may already have obtained a recorded statement from the adverse party. It’s amazing how candid the wrongdoer can be before he is exposed to an insurance adjuster.
Stevens say that the law of consented recordings has evolved positively. He continued, “You might have noticed that when you call a major insurance company now, there is a good chance that you will be told that your call is being recorded. There’s nothing in our jurisdictions that prohibits anyone from recording a conversation if notice is given that it’s being recorded. We are very successful in getting the adverse party to give us a statement and of course that’s the best thing, even better than a witness statement if the adverse party concedes negligence.”
MD law differs from other states’ laws
While it’s important to understand the process in Maryland, it’s equally important to understand how Maryland law differs from other states’ laws. Liability issues, in particular, can be confusing in Maryland and should always be discussed with an experienced car accident lawyer whose practice focuses in this area of the law.