How Can I Maximize My Baltimore Car Accident Settlement?
Anyone who has sustained injury at the hands of another will understand that the amount of compensation they are entitled to is of vital importance. The job of a Baltimore injury lawyer is to secure a financial recovery that is sufficient to compensate them for their loss. This article does not address any “ secret tricks” for maximizing the value of the case. Rather, through a hypothetical Baltimore car accident and personal injury scenario, we address common-sense, but perhaps not immediately apparent, measures that one can take to ensure that their Baltimore personal injury is not compromised.
Case Study: Sheila is a busy mother of four young children with a career in the social media copywriting industry. Every day, she dropped her three oldest children off at daycare before beginning her hour-and-a-half-long commute into Baltimore City for her job on Pratt Street. On her way to work last summer, Sheila, while proceeding easterly on Pratt Street, was struck on her driver’s side by a vehicle entering Pratt Street against a stop sign. Sheila immediately knows the impact is significant, for she cannot open her driver-side door, and she notices prompt pain in her left arm. Sheila does not know the other driver, but by all appearances, it is someone similar to her: a commuter, headed to work on busy downtown Baltimore streets, that apparently simply lost track of the flow of traffic and the controlling stop sign. The two speak at the scene of the accident, and as it appears, everyone is on the same page, decides not to call the Baltimore City police for purposes of preparing an accident report. Rather, Sheila collects the information from the other driver, carefully photographing the other driver’s license, registration paperwork license plate, and insurance card. Sheila also carefully documents the position of the vehicles, the intersection, and the relevant traffic control devices, all with photographs. Sheila promptly calls the other driver’s insurance company sets up a bodily injury claim, and is successful in asking for that insurance company to both pay for the needed repairs to the door of the car and put her in a rental while those repairs are being completed. Sheila has done what she feels she needs to do to protect her interests. The claim she has with the defendant’s insurance company, she is told, is one that she can use to seek compensation for physical injuries, should she have them. Sheila‘s left arm continues to vex her and she ultimately comes under the care of a Baltimore orthopedic surgeon, who diagnoses her as having a shoulder strain. She undergoes a short bout of physical therapy and has a cortisone injection into the shoulder joint. The combination of these events and measures leads to a lessening, and gradual dissipation, of her pain and discomfort. Sheila opts not to speak to a Baltimore personal injury lawyer about potential rights and claims that she may have in this instance. After her cortisone shot, about six months after the accident, she assembled her medical records and bills and submitted them to the other party’s insurance company. Eventually, Sheila and the insurance adjuster agreed that she should be compensated for the medical expenses she incurred in seeing the orthopedic physician. Sheila agrees and excepts compensation for her medical expenses and signs a release of her Baltimore bodily injury claim, forever discharging the defendant and the defendant’s insurance company from any ongoing responsibility for the loss
In this hypothetical case analysis, we see that Sheila has been involved in an automobile accident where she sustained a serious injury, but she also successfully negotiated the insurance claim and received compensation. She did this without hiring a Baltimore injury or accident lawyer. This scenario seems to be one in which there was an overall favorable outcome for Sheila. Could she have done something different to enhance that recovery?
As a practical matter, I always advise that anyone injured in a Baltimore motor vehicle crash should at least speak to a lawyer. I’m not able to conceive of any scenario where that doesn’t make at least common sense. Note I did not say hire a personal injury attorney. But speaking to an experienced Baltimore injury litigator and obtaining a fair idea of one’s rights and responsibilities in these scenarios is important. Sheila did not schedule this consultation. Had she, Sheila would’ve likely become aware of Maryland’s personal injury protection benefits. PIP benefits are first-party insurance benefits available to Marylanders that will pay $2500 of medical expenses or lost wages, or a combination of both. In our Baltimore accident claim example, Sheila did not set up a personal injury protection claim with her own insurance company. She had only one year to make this claim. After one year, she was unable to present her medical bills to her own insurance company for payment. Had she done so in a timely fashion and opened a Maryland personal injury protection, or PIP, claim promptly, she could’ve had her medical expenses paid by her own insurance company rather than from her own pocket. In our hypothetical example, Sheila settled her personal injury case for $3500. Her medical expenses, however, were slightly in excess of 2000. Had she been able to properly unify utilize her Maryland personal injury protection benefits and have those bills paid from that source, her net recovery would’ve been increased by $2000.
My standard advice to anyone who believes they have been injured is to quickly, and in a timely fashion, speak to an experienced Baltimore personal injury attorney. It makes little sense to wait. Note I did not say hire an attorney. Speaking to an injury and accident lawyer to have an idea of what rights you might possess (as shown in the example, in a Maryland personal injury protection claim) is certainly a worthwhile phone call or office visit. The guidance offered here concerns a perhaps harsh outcome to be avoided. The injured person did not pursue a valid claim she possessed, and it cost her several thousand dollars. If you have not had the misfortune of being in a Baltimore personal injury accident before, before reading this article, you might not be aware of these benefits