Maryland Court Trials are at a standstill. When will they start again?

empty courtroomIn the modern personal injury world, insurance companies make unreasonably low offers, knowledgeable lawyers reject them and lawsuits ensue. Often this results in settlements. Sometimes the settlements occur because the insurance carrier is systematically making inadequate offers to see which clients and lawyers are willing to go the extra distance in filing a lawsuit.

Sometimes settlements occur because the vehicle of litigation enables parties to exchange or obtain additional information which proves clarifying.

But sometimes a good old fashioned trial is necessary either to learn the genuine value of a case or as brinksmanship. The problem is in an epidemic it is unsafe to gather people in courtrooms where disease can be readily transmitted. That is the case presently and for the foreseeable future. So existing litigations are frozen in time. Case values can't be determined by judges or juries.

So, when will the world regain some normalcy and trials resume? The answer is unknown. Maryland courts are closed until May 4, 2020 but no one thinks they will reopen anywhere near that date.

Some Maryland health officials have opined that Maryland's peak coronavirus load will  be around the 4th of July.This horrified Gov. Hogan but realistically there is no way trials will resume before that date and it is this author's speculation that civil jury trials will not resume for 12 to 18 months.

This is because every jury pool necessarily involves multiple people to winnow down to six jurors and an alternate or two. You need at least 24 people to complete this process and getting 24 people together is going to fuel the transmission of this disease.

It is conceivable that District Court bench ( Judge only) trials will resume sooner but the numbers of pending cases are such that District Court Courtrooms are always filled to capacity and that is an obvious health hazard. Perhaps remote video trials will come into play but the technological obstacles are considerable.

So, bide your time 2020 appears to be the year with no trials!

Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
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