There is a circuit court located in each of Maryland’s 24 counties. Litigants can file civil cases for $15,000.01 or more, and can request a trial by a judge (bench trial) or a jury trial. There are several differences between the Circuit Courts and the District Courts.
Discovery is significantly expanded in the Circuit Courts. The District Courts only allow a list of 15 questions per side (called interrogatories), except for small claims cases where no written discovery is permitted. In the Circuit Courts, litigants can take advantage of:
- Interrogatories: each side is ordinarily permitted 30 interrogatories.
- Requests for production of documents: each party is permitted an unlimited number of document requests, so that they can obtain copies of police reports, car photos, and other relevant evidence.
- Requests for admission of fact: each party is permitted an unlimited number of requests for admission, which are often used to seek stipulations about uncontested facts or authenticity of documents.
- Depositions: Each party is allowed to conduct a deposition of any person. A deposition is a series of recorded questions which are answered under oath and penalty of perjury. In most Maryland automobile accident cases, the lawyers will depose the plaintiff, defendant, and any witnesses.
- Medical Exams: the defense lawyers frequently request permission to have one of their hired doctors perform a medical examination of the plaintiff, particularly if the plaintiff contends that he or she has permanent injuries.
Length to Trial
Every county handles trial dates a little differently. In some, the trial date is assigned very early with the court’s scheduling order. The scheduling order outlines the deadlines to get things done in the case. Other courts, like Baltimore County, assign a trial date after a mandated settlement conference.
The length to get to trial depends in part on the type of case—complex cases, like medical malpractice, sometimes get put on a longer track with more time for discovery, motions, and a later trial date. The goal for most plaintiffs is to get to trial as soon as possible. In some counties, a Maryland auto accident case can have a trial date within about a year after filing. In some counties, however, it may take two or two and-a-half years. Much of this depends on how busy the individual court’s docket is.
Trials in Circuit Court typically last at least a full day, largely because so much time is needed to pick a jury and tend to their needs. Most Maryland auto accident lawsuits require two to three days of trial.
Presenting Medical Evidence
If the case is filed for $30,000 or less, then the plaintiff may rely on medical reports and bills to prove the case (just like a District Court case). In most cases, however, plaintiffs will rely on expert testimony directly through his or her treating doctor (or a doctor who reviews the records).
That medical evidence is sometimes presented live at trial—the doctor will show up to court and explain directly to the jury the plaintiff’s diagnosis, prognosis, and the relationship of the auto accident to the injuries. In some cases, the lawyer may present the doctor’s testimony by video—the lawyers will meet a few days or weeks before trial and will record the doctor’s testimony, which is given as if the doctor is at trial.
We can help you decide whether your case is best filed in the District Court or the Circuit Court. Contact us with your Maryland automobile accident questions at 1-800-776-4529, or fill out our brief contact form to request more information.
More Maryland Automobile Accident Information
- Maryland District Courts
- Proving Your Injuries In A Maryland Lawsuit
- What Is My Maryland Automobile Accident Case Worth?
- Maryland Car Accident Settlements