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Maryland Civil Litigation Deadlines

Missing Litigation Deadlines Can Kill Your CaseNot all litigation deadlines are deadly, but some can kill your case.

Which deadlines matter and which don't? To some degree, they all matter, but some matter more than others.

Miss your state's statute of limitations, for example, and no matter how great your evidence may be, you'll never get to present it.  Case dismissed.

The same is true for demanding a jury trial, or for appealing a case you've lost.  File a late demand for jury trial and the case you wanted to take before a jury of your peers will now be decided by a judge instead. And if you lose your case and wish to appeal to a higher authority, you may never get to challenge dubious legal rulings if you fail to meet the deadlines.

There are other "deadlines" which carry fewer consequences. Yes, the rules tell us that we must answer interrogatories within a certain period of time. But lawyers often file them late. It's not the best practice to maintain, but unless a party repeatedly defies the rules and court orders to produce essential information, your case probably won't be dismissed for answering those written questions a few weeks late.

How do you know what deadlines are truly "dead lines"? You don't. Some courts and some judges are more strict than others. Only an experienced lawyer can appreciate the finer distinctions and the "unwritten" rules of the Court. But wait too long to consult with an attorney, and that case you considered a slam dunk may be tossed out of court. Besides, there are hundreds of deadlines and these rules change quite often. Trying to figure all of this out on your own is never a smart approach.

So, with that warning, here are some examples of litigation deadlines in Maryland state court cases:

Description of Event or Task



Time to File Suit
[Statute of Limitations]

3 years, but:
1 year for assault + defamation
Medical Malpractice = 5 years from the time of injury, or, 3 years from discovery of the injury, whichever is shorter.
Time for Demanding Jury Trial

In Circuit Court cases, must demand a jury trial in writing within 15 days of the "last pleading directed to the issue" (i.e., typically within 15 days after Answer to Complaint is due); in District Court cases, must demand a jury trial in writing within 10 days of the "last pleading directed to the issue" (i.e., typically within 10 days after Answer to Complaint is due).

Amending Complaints Prior to 15 Days of Trial, just do it! Within 15 days of trial, need leave of court or opponent's written consent. Late amendments will be stricken if the delay prejudices the opposing party.  
Ex Parte Injunctions Good for 10 days vs. resident defendants; 35 days against non-resident defendants.  
Summons Must be served within 60 days of issuance.  
Responding to Complaint
[by preliminary motion or Answer]
If Served:
* in Maryland = 30 days
* outside Md = 60 days
* outside US = 90 days
Answering Complaint
[if preliminary motion was filed]
Tolls time for answering until 15 days after preliminary motion decided [unless case dismissed, of course.]  
Filing Counterclaims, Cross-Claims,
and Third Party Claims
in Answer, or, within 30 days of time for filing Answer. Late claims will be stricken if the delay prejudices the opposing party.  
Notice to Take Deposition serve at least 10 days before deposition, unless documents are requested in conjunction with the deposition; if they are, allow at least 30 days.  
Time for Responding to Discovery

for interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions, 30 days from service of request, or, 15 days after defendant's initial pleading/motion is due [whichever is later]

Requesting "Order of Default" as soon as time for responding to Complaint has expired  
Requesting "Default Judgment" 30 days after notice of "Order of Default" was served on defendant  
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