Less Is More: The Benefits of a Smaller Claim

The Benefits of Trying Tort Claims (including automobile accidents) in the District Court for $15,000.

The district court has jurisdiction over civil claims (including automobile accident) brought for $30,000 or less. However, if the party bringing the claim, who is called the plaintiff, brings that claim for $15,000 there are at least two significant benefits:

A. The defendant may not request a jury trial. Juries in Howard County circuit courts, and in other jurisdictions throughout the state, often are very conservative in their assessments of the value of auto tort claims. Judges in the district court system are more responsive to plaintiffs and often provide better results.

B. Evidence. The rules of evidence often require experts and/or custodians of record to appear in court to establish that the plaintiff’s injuries are causally related to the automobile accident, that the medical treatment was reasonable and necessary, and that the cost of the medical treatment was also reasonable and necessary. All of the opinions of the medical expert must meet the following standard: that the above issues are true to a reasonable degree of medical certainty and/or probability.

In the district court system, the rules of evidence as specifically set forth in the Judicial Proceedings Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland have been relaxed. The cost of bringing a medical expert to the district court would be expensive and cost prohibitive. Therefore, under Section 10- 104 of the above described Article, medical/ dental hospital records and bills may be introduced without the necessity of bringing a medical expert into court. However, the court may still look at the causal relationship between the accident and the injuries and the reasonableness of the treatment and the cost of treatment. The plaintiff must still fulfill certain procedural requirements ahead of trial when intending to introduce medical records and bills without a medical expert or a custodian of records who may be able to authenticate each record and failure to follow the procedural requirements will prevent the plaintiff from introducing medical evidence and bills.

The plaintiff may bring an action in the District Court in the amount of $30,000 and still benefit from the above described rules of evidence permitting the introduction into evidence without a medical expert or custodian of a record.

Fred Antenberg can provide you with additional information with regard to assessing whether you should bring a court action in the district court or in the circuit court and, if it is a circuit court action, whether or not to seek a jury trial.

Fred Antenberg files civil actions on behalf of Plaintiffs in both district and circuit court. His office is located in Howard County, Maryland, and he practices also in surrounding counties in the State of Maryland. Give Fred a call at 410 730-4404.