It may be necessary to take legal action against an insurance company or negligent driver after a car accident. A Maryland car accident attorney can assist plaintiffs by properly filing the lawsuit. An August 8, 2018 case before the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland illustrates the importance of understanding these legal procedures.The plaintiffs in the case were injured when their car was rear-ended by another driver. The police report correctly named the driver but combined the name of the driver’s mother with the name of the driver when identifying the owner of the vehicle. In fact, the vehicle was co-leased by both the driver and his mother. The plaintiffs filed negligence actions solely against the mother. After the statute of limitations had expired, the plaintiffs filed motions to add the driver to the lawsuit. The circuit court denied the motions, and the plaintiffs appealed.
In Maryland, most civil actions must be filed within three years from the date they accrue. Failing to file a timely lawsuit, absent a statutory exception, bars the case from proceeding further. Amendments to the complaint, including the addition of another defendant, are freely allowed if filed within the statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations has run, a party is generally barred from adding a new defendant to the complaint. The “relation back” doctrine, however, permits an amendment adding a misnamed party if the factual situation remains essentially the same after the amendment as it was before, and the party had timely notice of his status as a defendant.