What Is Considered A Serious Motor Vehicle Accident In Maryland?
The phrase “serious” car accident has gained popularity in legal/insurance parlance. Indeed, there are attorneys who publicize and advertise that they only hire or handle serious car accident cases. I can tell you from handling these cases for a few decades, and, anyone who has ever been involved in an MVA of any magnitude can tell you that any car crash is “serious” business. Inconvenience, stress, physical pain and wasted time accompany even relatively mundane car accidents, and are not trifling matters. There is clearly a spectrum of consequences the flow from an accident - from relatively benign to highly significant. However the phrase serious car accident has taken on unique significance in the legal/insurance lexicon. To some extent, that begs the question: what then is considered a serious car accident in the State Maryland in the year 2021? There are some common factors that I look to in assessing where the severity of an accident might fall on the spectrum.
- Were the occupants of the vehicles taken to the hospital by ambulance?
- Were police, EMTs or fire-control first responders summons to the scene?
- Did the occupants of the vehicle sustain fractures, lacerations requiring suturing and potential of scaring, or require immediate life-sustaining procedures?
- Did the airbags deploy and did the occupants have to be extricated from the vehicle with assistance or by mechanical means?
- Were they involved vehicles towed or disabled?
- Were criminal charges filed against the at-fault party?
- The speed, direction of travel, and other environmental conditions surrounding the crash?
The spectrum of potential outcomes for an automobile accident ranges from a relatively benign event with little property damage and no permanent injuries, to a tragedy that causes the death of one or more participants in the crash. Certainly, any motor vehicle accident involving the wrongful death of another person is serious beyond any doubt. Certainly, any accident that necessitates surgery or requires lengthy and grueling rehabilitation to recover is a serious event beyond any conceivable contention to the contrary. But what about an accident that does not result in disabling damage to the vehicles and injuries that did not require hospitalization? What if those injuries, rather, require months of physical therapy and months of diminishment of the quality of life for the injured person. Certainly, that person so afflicted would consider the event a serious one. But would an insurance company? I can tell you the answer is invariably no.
Representatives from the opposing insurance company will invariably try to minimize the severity of any accident from the very inception of the claim, and maintain that process of minimization throughout the course of the case. An insurance company will typically label such an event “just” soft tissue or just a “minor accident”. Aside from the very real and meaningful consequences for those injured in a motor vehicle accident, perhaps the greatest single consequence of that happening being deemed a “serious” motor vehicle accident lies in the monetary consequences- that is to say the compensation awarded- to the individual involved in the accident. One injured in serious motor vehicle accident – or one deemed, accepted, or determined by a jury be such- will generally receive greater compensation for non-economic damages.