By Patrick Malone
NOTE: This information is generally believed to be accurate, but consumers should always check with an attorney to make sure the law has not changed and to see if some exception might apply.
Daniel Scialpi Explains the Statute of Limitations in Maryland
Here are the deadlines — also known as statutes of limitations — for filing various types of personal injury lawsuits in Maryland.
In Maryland, a civil action must generally be filed within three years of “accrual.” MD Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article §5-101.
“Accrual” means that the clock has started ticking on the period of time a plaintiff has to file a claim. Maryland uses the “discovery rule” to determine when that clock begins. The discovery rule says that the limitations period starts when a person knows, or should know, that they have a potential claim. A person “should know” that they have a potential claim “when a person acquires knowledge sufficient to cause a reasonable person to make an inquiry that, if pursued with reasonable diligence, would have disclosed the existence of the allegedly negligent act and harm.” Lumsden v. Design Tech Builders, Inc., 749 A.2d 796, 799-802 (2000).
Exceptions and qualifiers
There are a variety of exceptions and qualifiers in Maryland to the general three-year limitations period. What follows is a list of some of the more significant exceptions, but is by no means an exclusive list. For additional limitations, see the Maryland Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, specifically §5 -101 through §5-1105, and check with an attorney.
The intentional harms of assault, libel, and slander, have a one-year limitations period. SeeMD Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article §5-105.
Battery, however, has a three-year deadline. See Ford v. Douglas, 799 A.2d 448, 450 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2002).
A claim of sexual abuse of a minor must be brought within seven years of the date the plaintiff reaches majority, which means before the plaintiff turns 25 years old. See MD Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article §5-117.
Cases against the Maryland State government
A notice letter must be sent within one year of the injury to the Maryland State Treasurer. See MD Code State Government Article § 12-106.
Cases against local governments in Maryland
A notice letter must be sent within 180 days of the injury if the claim is against a local government, such as a county. The notice letter must include the time, place, and cause of the injury. If the claim is against Montgomery County, the notice letter must be sent to the County Executive. If the claim is against Prince George’s County, the notice letter must be sent to the County Attorney or County Solicitor. If the claim is against Baltimore City, the notice letter must be sent to the City Solicitor. See MD Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article §5-304, which also includes a list of who to notify depending on the county.
Cases against the U.S. government
A “Form 95” must be sent to the government agency that employed the persons who caused the injury, within two years of the injury, or within two years of when you discovered you were injured. For more information on these claims, see our military malpractice information (similar for other non-military U.S. government institutions).
Malpractice against a health care provider, hospital, nursing home, etc.
The limitations period is the sooner offive years from the date the injury was committed by the health care provider or three years from the date the injury was discovered. See MD Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article §5-109.
A claim may successfully be made for negligent failure to diagnosis cancer, even after more than five years has passed from the date of the misdiagnosis. In Rivera v. Edmonds, the Maryland Court of Appeals found that a patient did not forfeit her claim under the statute of limitations when her cancer had remained dormant for more than five years after a doctor had failed to diagnosis the cancer. The “harm” or “injury” to the patient did not occur until the cancer ceased being “dormant’ and started causing the patient “adverse consequences.” The patient had no reason to know that she had cancer until the active cancer was actually diagnosed. Therefore the patient had the sooner of five years from when the cancer started causing adverse consequences, or three years from when the active cancer was diagnosed, to file her claim, regardless of when the original misdiagnosis occurred. Rivera v. Edmonds, 699 A.2d 1194, 1202 (1997).
In Maryland, all malpractice claims against a health care provider must initially be filed with the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office. Once such a complaint is made, the claim has been filed for purposes of the limitations period. See MD Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article § 3-2A-04.
Injuries to children
If a person is injured while under 18 years of age, the lawsuit clock does not start ticking until that person’s 18th birthday, which means that in most negligence cases the deadline in Maryland is the plaintiff’s 21st birthday. See MD Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article §5-201.
The rule that a person’s 18th birthday begins the period of limitations for any injuries occurring before that time also applies to medical malpractice cases, despite the language of MD Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article §5-109. See Piselli v. 75th St. Med., 808 A.2d 508, 517 (2002).
There is a three-year limitations period for filing a wrongful death claim. If the cause of death is a result of being exposed to toxic chemicals in one’s workplace, the period of limitations is the shorter of ten years after death or three years after the cause of death was discovered. See MD Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article §3-904.
The deadline for filing a lawsuit based on sexual abuse depends on several factors, including 1) the age of the victim, 2) when the abuse occurred, and 3) whether the lawsuit is against a third-party (like a church, daycare center, or other organization). (Maryland Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 5-117).
The statute of limitations for filing a civil suit against a sexual assaulter in Maryland is generally 3 years from the date of the incident for adults.
For minors, the victim has 20 years from his or her 18th birthday (to age 38) to sue the perpetrator and any third party (e.g., church, school, etc.), but if more than 7 years have passed, then he or she can only sue a third party if they can show that the third party was “grossly negligent.”
Consult with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you believe you or a family member has been seriously injured from someone else’s fault – whether from medical malpractice, a defective product, a motor vehicle collision or any other kind of accidental injury — you may want to click here to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for a free evaluation of your case. You can also email us at email@example.com or call us at 202-742-1500 or 888-625-6635 toll-free. We will respond within 24 hours. There is no charge for our initial consultation.