When Maryland voters approved a constitutional amendment last fall increasing the amount in controversy for jury trials from $15,000.00 to $25,000.00, they did innocent victims of personal injury a big favor, at least in smaller cases.
Historically speaking, insurance companies would often request jury trials on behalf of their at-fault insureds in order to delay trials and sap the enthusiasm of injured victims. The fact is that many crash victims do not have the financial wherewithal to withstand long delays in receiving justice through a trial.
Most Americans are not prepared for the lost income and medical bills associated with even a modest accident and taking a case and pushing the trial off for more than a year due to a jury trial demand can be financially catastrophic.
This phenomenon exists when an injured party brings a legal action in state District Court. District Court has no jury trials and consequently trial dates typically occur within 90 days of the case being filed. If the insurance lawyer requests a jury trial the case moves from District Court to Circuit Court where it is scheduled long into the future.
Thus, the amendment takes a bevy of smaller cases and permits the injured party to get prompt trials dates without giving the insurance industry a mechanism to delay Ironically, when the insurance lawyers request jury trials they expose their clients to much larger verdicts as Circuit Court cases have no jurisdictional limit, whereas cases tried in Maryland District Court have a $30,000.00 maximum.
Congratulations Marylanders you did the right thing!