Maryland Car Accident Attorney
I've handled hundreds of car accident cases in which my clients have sustained serious personal injury, incurred huge medical bills and lost wages, and were caused to suffer pain and endure mental anguish. The process of recovering compensation for those injuries can be lengthy and frustrating for the injury victim. Legitimate questions arise during the course of the claim, from notification, to negotiation, to litigation. In the articles that follow, I'll give you an insider's view of the anatomy of a car accident case from beginning to end.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE IN A MARYLAND CAR ACCIDENT?
Your actions immediately after a Maryland automobile accident can actually be somewhat critical. An experienced Baltimore injury/accident attorney
will have specific recommendations about steps you need to take to protect yourself, and your rights. We've all seen the lists of do's and dont's in the wake of any Maryland automobile accident.
One list states that you don't sign any document unless it's for your insurance agent or the police, and that you don't tell anyone the automobile accident was your fault, even if you have thoughts to the contrary. A well-known insurer also states that you relate only the facts, and talk only to your insurance agent or the police. An experienced Baltimore injury/accident lawyer
will also tell you in no uncertain terms you to seek medical attention immediately after the car accident -even if you do not feel you or family members are seriously injured. Let a doctor make that determination for you and your family. Secondly, any Baltimore injury/accident lawyer
that takes cases to trial will tell you take pictures of everything: the vehicles themselves; the tags on the vehicles; other drivers, and of course the accident scene. Cell phones will work but camera produces higher quality pictures. Any experienced Baltimore injury/accident lawyer
knows you must write down the names and contact information of any witnesses. With more than 8 million surveillance cameras in the country, Maryland car and automobile accidents are increasingly recorded on video. Accordingly, you should note the presence of police, city or commercial cameras.
REPORTING YOUR MARYLAND CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM
Most Baltimore injury/accident attorney
s will report a Maryland automobile accident to the at fault driver's liability carrier as part of handling your case. Some Baltimore injury/accident lawyers
will also fill out a PIP application, or assist you in that process. But the consensus is that you, as the insured car or automobile accident victim, must at least notify your insurer of the incident as part of your obligations under your automobile accident insurance. Some Baltimore injury/accident attorneys
will also assist you in the property damage aspect of your Maryland automobile accident
, which is typically resolved in the first instance with your own insurance company, as well.
WHO'S AT FAULT? THE BOULEVARD RULE
Maryland law discusses roadways as being in one of two groups. A Baltimore car accident lawyer
will tell you that one class involves "favored" roadways [i.e. the Boulevard], the other "unfavored." The driver operating on the favored road has the right of way-as long as she is obeying the rules of the road [for example, not going the wrong way on a one-way-street]. That driver can assume the driver on the unfavored road will stop or yield to their right of way. In many instances, this involves a highway intersected by a side street with a stop sign. MostBaltimore car accident lawyers
have read the cases reciting that the reason for the rule is so traffic on the boulevard moves smoothly.
Seasoned Baltimore car accident lawyer
s have likely dealt with the question of whether a "favored" driver can be denied recovery? Speeding by the favored driver is rarely enough to relive that driver of their right of way. Experienced Baltimore car accident lawyer
s have seen the extraordinary circumstance of the favored driver's driving drunk, on the wrong side of the road, without headlights is enough to lift the statutory right of way conferred by the rule, and a person injured by that conduct may recover. If sufficient evidence is put forth that the favored driver was in fact negligent, and the proximate cause of the accident, then the question of whether or not a recovery may be had is a question that will be submitted to the jury.
Interestingly, as seasoned Baltimore car accident lawyer
s know, the Court of Special Appeals has ruled that there is no requirement of an automobile accident between the favored and unfavored vehicles in order for the Boulevard Rule to operate against the unfavored driver. Pyles v. Rehman. 321 A.2d 175. The law in this area can become intricate, in particular where passengers have brought personal injury claims against drivers, and both of the drivers have contributed to the automobile accident in some manner. An experienced Baltimore car accident lawyer
can advise you of the role of the Boulevard rule in assessing fault in your personal injury case.
Baltimore car accident lawyer
s will tell you that, despite some exceptions mentioned above, in the normal circumstance, the unfavored driver is going to be found negligent, and responsible for a causing a Baltimore automobile accident.
But what if there is no collision between the unfavored driver and the favored driver? [Imagine a situation where an unfavored driver violates the right of way of a driver, but there is no automobile accident between those vehicles, but rather an automobile accident involving the favored driver, and the car following the favored driver –who is also favored]. As seasoned Baltimore car accident lawyer
s know, the Court of Special Appeals has ruled that there is no requirement of an automobile accident between the favored and unfavored vehicles in order for the Boulevard Rule to operate against the unfavored driver. Pyles v. Rehman. 321 A.2d 175.
WHO'S AT FAULT? THE "REAR-ENDER"
Most seasoned Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s will tell you the driver that strikes from the rear is at fault? Of course, any driver must use caution for the safety of others. The following driver must use caution for the safety of others, including the duty to follow a car only as close a traffic flow, speed, road conditions and prudence permit. How close is too close? Experienced Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s are all familiar with the calculations showing that is takes about 55 feet to stop a car traveling 55 mph on dry asphalt. But the liability determinations in these cases are far from automatic. Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s know that the mere fact that a rear end motor vehicle collision occurred does not create any presumption that the operator of the striking car was negligent. Many experienced Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s have successfully argued that the driver of the car in front has responsibilities too. They must signal an intent to stop, turn or slow. If they fail, then they should be held responsible for the collision. Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s have won cases by demonstrating that the brakes on the defendant's car "failed". One may think that "brake failure" is an excuse that would relieve the following driver of responsibility for causing an accident. Quite the opposite is true. Sudden brake failure actually creates the presumption of negligence on the part of the owner of the trailing car. vehicle.
THE INSURANCE COMPANY
The minimum mandatory amount for automobile liability insurance is not much at all [25k]. Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s know that the availability of insurance is frequently the single most important factor in assessing case value. If the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance, that may well mean that your Baltimore car accident
case has a value of nothing at all. The reality is most people don't have money, or at least no liquid assets. A relatively small number of people have good incomes. They may live in nice houses and drive nice cars, but that doesn't necessarily mean they have positive net worth. The most well-known Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s have had the crushing experience of securing a huge verdict, and being unable to collect it for want of insurance.
The role of the insurance company is huge in the typical Baltimore automobile collision
claim. Maryland car and automobile accident lawyers know that insurance companies are literally swimming in cash. One way they get all that money by paying out on claims less than they collect in premiums. Insurers deny or underpay on claims – routinely. Maryland law provides it is unlawful for an insurer to deny a claim for "arbitrary" or "capricious" reasons. Any seasoned Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
that proving an act is arbitrary can be daunting. Insurance companies are huge entities with outlandish resources that dwarf those of the individuals with whom they have a claim dispute. Experienced Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s are aware that there is a code of conduct for insurers regarding the claims practices. Maryland law provides that it is an "unfair claim settlement practice" to: refuse to pay a claim for an arbitrary or capricious reason; misrepresent pertinent facts or policy provisions; or to fail to provide a basis for denials. Unfortunately for the injury victim, the remedy for a violation of these rules a fine- doing them little good on their claim. Here is some good news. Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s are well aware that insurance companies have an obligation to settle negligence claims. They must investigate the claim with due care and good faith, and settle the case within policy limits with a Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
, where it is warranted. [MPJI 14:10] A seasoned Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer will know how to get the rights that flow from this obligation [i.e. the ability to sue the insurance company] assigned to their clients. In these cases, Maryland car and automobile accident lawye
rs request that jurors are instructed to consider: the thoroughness of the investigation; the failure to tell the insured of the possibility of settlement within the policy and the extent of the injuries; [MPJI 14:10]. Most people would agree it's a fair request that Baltimore automobile accident victim
s inquire as to their claims adjusters' medical and vocational expertise, training and experience prior to settling their Baltimore car accident claim.
According to carinsurance.org, the 10 largest auto insurers in the country are:
One more word about the insurance industry. A lawyer's consortium know as the American Association for Justice published an interesting volume called the '10 Worst Insurance Companies in America'. Many Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
s would agree most people don't really understand just how much money the major insurance companies actually make. That group sets figure at 30 billion dollars, annually. A seasoned Maryland car and automobile accident lawyer
may play a vital role in assuring that your claim receives full compensation. According to the study the 10 worst, in ascending order are: Liberty Mutual, Torchmark, UnitedHealth, Farmers, WellPoint, Conseco, State Farm, AIG, Unum, and Allstate.
CAN I RECOVER LOST WAGES
TELL ME ABOUT PIP
Maryland car accident lawyers
understand that personal injury protection [PIP] benefits are 'no-fault' benefits. 'No-fault' means that you get these benefits if injured in a Baltimore automobile accident
, no matter who is at fault for the accident. [Unless the "accident" was intentional or in the course of a felony]. PIP is your insurance. You pay for it. The minimum coverage is $2500, but you can buy more. Your insurer has to offer it to you, and you must decline it in writing if that is your choice. Experienced Maryland car accident lawyer
s have seen that insurers generally tend not to challenge the wage loss benefits upon submission of appropriate proof, but often refuse to pay, or "reduce", the charges of medical providers. PIP pays your reasonable and necessary medical expenses and/or 85% of your lost wages.
PIP law requires that insurers pay all "reasonable" and "necessary" medical expenses for Maryland car accident victims
. Maryland car accident lawyer
s see carriers "reduce" medical bills everyday. Insurers frequently contest if a service was "necessary", which the courts define as something that had some "efficacious value" More often, insurers contest if the charge for the service was "reasonable", and refuse to pay it. Of course, no Maryland car accident lawyer
has ever seen a case where an insurance company refused to pay because the charge was 'unreasonably low'. Insurance companies routinely refuse to honor charges that the view as too high, Amazingly, even in the absence of any authority to do so, they "reduce" charges to a level that the carrier, arbitrarily, decides is "reasonable". Do you know any doctors that are adjusting claims for insurance companies?
The purpose of PIP is to provide for the speedy payment of medical charges without regard to fault. Maryland car accident lawyer
s have seen a Baltimore car accident victim
is entitled to collect PIP benefits, even if the bill in question may be paid for another insurance company [e.g. a health insurance company]. Seasoned Maryland car accident lawyer
s know passengers in buses, taxicabs and state-owned vehicles generally don't get PIP benefits. Maryland car accident lawyer
s also know the value of a case is directly affected by PIP benefits [e.g. medical expenses that may otherwise have to be paid by settlement or judgment funds may be paid by PIP.
Maryland car accident lawyer
s will tell you that you have PIP unless you say you don't want it. Baltimore automobile accident victims
sometimes find themselves faced with bills for which they which believed they had PIP coverage, only to find out they refused the coverage. A person may waive their statutorily mandated PIP coverage, but, as seasoned Maryland car accident lawyer
s are aware, there are specific requirements: the waiver must be in writing, on a form approved by the Insurance Commissioner, and the insurer must advise the person of the consequences of a waiver.
CAN I RECOVER IF I'M NEGLIGENT?
Any experienced Baltimore car and automobile accident lawyer
will advise clients that this doctrine operates to deny any financial recovery to a car accident victim found to be responsible for causing or contributing to the accident.
Children under five years of age can never cause or contribute to their injuries,and children over 5 are judged by the standard of conduct that children of similar age. Discuss your case with an experienced Baltimore car and automobile accident lawyer
to determine if "contributory negligence" is a factor in your case, and possible countermeasures.
Seasoned Baltimore personal injury and accident lawyers
have seen the law imposes a duty on every driver to see everything they should have seen. In Colmes v. Zamoiski, 294 A.2d 120, the court noted that a driver who fails to see what they should have is essentially the same as a blind person operating that vehicle. When a driver fails to perceive something that they should have perceived, and that failure causes or contributes to a Baltimore car or automobile acciden
t, then that failure is considered contributory negligence if that person is a plaintiff].
WHAT'S INVOLVED IN A MARYLAND AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT CLAIM
Most Maryland car accident lawyer
s will break claims into two categories: pre-suit and suit. "Presuit" would be any car accident claim that resolves prior to the commencement of litigation [i.e. a lawsuit]. Presuit automobile claims processing typically involves setting up the claim, investigation of liability and witnesses, gathering information such a police reports, medical records, surveillance films and the like, and then presenting that information to an adjuster, and negotiating an appropriate settlement figure. If that process is unsuccessful, then Maryland car accident lawyer
s that try their cases will file suit. [some cases are so obviously litigation candidates that negotiations are a formality]. Suit can be filed in district court, where the limit of recovery is $30,ooo, but a trial date can be had within 60 days. Maryland car accident lawyer
s will file more serious cases in circuit court, where the recovery is unlimited, but it may take a year or more to get to trial.
UNINSURED MOTORISTS CLAIMS