When you are in a crash you don't spend much time contemplating which court will be best for you later but it is an important decision. Understanding why your car accident attorney recommends one court over another is essential.
Maryland has both federal and state courts and the state courts are further divided into district court and circuit court. Don't confuse state district court with federal district court, they are truly different animals. Federal District Court requires a minimum amount in controversy (Amount of damages you are seeking) of $75,000.00 and is available for both judge and jury trials.
Federal District Court has a number of other hurdles to gain access to it and its filing fees for a lawsuit are triple those of state circuit courts and ten times those of Maryland state district court.
Thus, the primary choice for victims of vehicle collisions is which state court should be used?
The answer is generally pretty clear from the facts of the case. Smaller cases belong in Maryland district court where the maximum damages award is $30,000.00 and where evidentiary rules exist which may make paying a doctor to come to court unnecessary. There are however no juries in state district court, you get a bench trial from a judge.
Circuit court is where a great deal of the action is in Maryland for larger cases and where parties wish to have a jury trial. While there are circumstances where a circuit court personal injury case may be tried without bringing in a doctor, your damages become limited to $30,000.00.
So, the question is: how much is my case worth? If it is clearly more than $30,000.00 then either federal district court or state circuit is where you belong. For borderline cases the advantages of not paying a doctor to come to court (a potential savings of several thousand dollars) has to be weighed against the restrictions on how much compensation can be awarded.
Talk to an experienced trial lawyer to make the best choice for your individual situation.