Periodically, our representation of injured plaintiffs in truck crash cases, leads into the federal court. While there are both advantages and disadvantages to federal court, at Clark and Steinhorn, LLC, we are generally pleased to be in federal court rather than state court.
The reasons for this are varied but perhaps the number one advantage of federal court is the greater certainty and rigidity of it's scheduling. This subject has been touched on elsewhere on this website: https://www.maryland-law.com/library/what-court-is-best-for-your-maryland-car-accident-lawsuit-.cfm
The schedule is an advantage for injured victims in tractor trailer and other truck crash cases as delay in state court often rewards the insurance lawyers and their clients with substantial additional preparation time as state court "deadlines" are more amorphous.
Such things as expert designation deadlines are taken far more seriously in federal court than in state courts, which is important as insurance companies often are unwilling to pay for defense medical examinations but nonetheless their lawyers file expert designations listing multiple "experts" who have never been consulted in any way about the victim's injuries and treatment.
While this is theoretically impermissible in Maryland state courts, it is more tolerated there than it federal court, If the defense doesn't have an expert and the federal deadline for expert witness designation goes by, the defense has real problems. Whereas in state court judges give defense lawyers wide latitude to ignore expert witness deadlines and to literally pull an expert out of a hat, once the prospect for an actual trial seems more probable.
One asks isn't it advantageous for plaintiffs to have more amorphous deadlines and wider latitude? The answer is it shouldn't be. One of the few advantages accorded inured victims is that by the time they file a lawsuit they know who their doctors ( experts) are and what injuries they attribute to their truck accident.
This means plaintiffs have up to three years to put their cases together and court deadlines often impose a few months for the defense to figure out the plaintiffs case and name experts who might help them diminish the cases value.
Which brings us to should you insist on trying your federal court accident case before a federal judge or consider referral to a federal magistrate judge?
Our answer in Maryland is that generally trial before a magistrate judge is preferable as their availability for an actual trial is much sooner and the qualifications of the magistrate judges are outstanding. Maryland has a long history of magistrate judges being elevated to federal judgeships.
The ability to obtain a prompt trial is important for significantly injured parties for whom a six month delay can be catastrophic.The bottom line is that use of magistrate judges in Maryland injury cases expedites the litigation process thereby putting greater pressure on insurance carriers to put up fair case value much sooner.