- What Should I do if I am Injured in a Car Accident?
- Do I Have to Pay for a Personal Injury Lawyer?
- Can I Sue if I am Injured in a Store or Other Business?
- How Can I Recover Damages After A Car Accident?
The first thing a driver or passenger should do when involved in a car accident is to call the 911. You should inform the operator if there are any injuries, and answer their questions to the best of your knowledge. If you are unsure about whether anyone is injured always err on the side of caution. Even if there are no visible injuries adrenaline from an accident can temporarily mask pain, so paramedics should always be notified in accident where there was a noticeable impact. After calling the police you can take the next few minutes to assess everyone’s condition and take care not to move anyone who is injured unless they are in a dangerous position. If everyone seems okay you can begin to survey the scene and even take some quick photographs. Try not to speak to the driver or the passengers of the other vehicle about the accident, as these statements may be taken out of context in the future. When the police arrive remain calm and pay attention to all the statements that are made on the scene. Ask the police officer to speak with and record the statements of any witnesses. There are cases where police officers fail to speak to eyewitnesses or take their information down, and this could impact the ability for the truth to come out at a later date.
After you and your family have received medical attention it is then a good time to consult with an injury lawyer. During this consultation you will be under no obligation to hire that attorney or pay him or her any money, but they will be able to advise you on how to protect yourself against insurance companies that love to take advantage of unrepresented accident victims. Once the police have taken your statement and you have reported the accident to your own insurance company you should not speak to anyone else about the accident. Until you have retained an attorney the other driver’s insurance company make try to contact you for a statement, but remember they are not looking out for your best interest. This is especially important in Maryland where contributory negligence is still the law. If you are even 1 percent at fault for the accident you are barred from recovering damages, and insurance companies know the questions to ask to make it seem like you could have been at fault. We recommend retaining an attorney immediately, but make sure you feel comfortable with the attorney as the process may take a few months to a couple years if the case goes to trial. The right attorney will be patient, knowledgeable and available. Some large law offices make it impossible to get in touch with your actual attorney, and instead will pass calls off to an assistant or a younger associate. Act quickly but don’t rush to hire a lawyer.
Almost all personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they will not receive any money unless you win at trial or reach a settlement. An attorney that works on a contingency basis will not charge you hourly for the work he or she does, but at the end of the case will receive a percentage of the money that is paid by the insurance company. Attorneys will typically cover the costs of your case (including filing fees and expert witness fees), and will be paid back for these expenses out of the settlement or verdict. If you have any further questions about a contingency fee please feel free to contact our office at (410) 207-2598.
First off, a person can sue another person or a business for any reason, but the real questions is whether you can recover damages for an injury suffered on someone else’s property. An injured person may be able to recover damages against a person or business under the theory of premises liability. Premises liability means that the owner of property is liable for injures that occur on their property if three main elements are satisfied. First it must be established that the property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition on their property and second it must be established that the owner did not adequately warn the injured party about the dangerous condition. Finally, and this is only true in Maryland and a handful of other states, it must be established that the injured person did not contribute to causing the injury. A property owner is not liable for injuries that occur on their property unless all three elements are satisfied, as this would constitute strict liability. Every case must be examined on its own to determine whether a person can recover damages as there are no absolutes in slip and fall cases. For example if someone slips on an obviously wet floor in a grocery store the owner is usually liable, but what happens if another customer accidently spilled a drink on the floor just seconds earlier? The store probably will not be liable because they did not have the time to warn other customers about the dangerous condition, and the other customer would not be liable because they didn’t own the property and the spill was an accident. The fact that every case is different is the number one reason why you should contact a slip and fall lawyer if you are injured in an accident on someone else’s property. You may be able to recover for your medical bills as well as for your pain and suffering, and even if you do not recover damages you will not typically have to pay a lawyer to try. Remember that it is never a good idea to speak to the property owner or their insurance company about your accident without first consulting a lawyer. They can twist your words around to make it seem like you were at fault, which in Maryland can prevent you from recovering any money.
If you are injured in a car accident there are a variety of ways to recover the cost of medical bills and money for future pain and suffering. If you were involved in a single car accident and nobody else was at fault you can recover damages by making a clam through your own insurance company, but if you were involved in an accident and another person was at fault you may be able to recover additional damages from that person’s policy.
In Maryland all drivers are required to have a valid automobile insurance policy with a minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury per person, and $60,000 for bodily injury per accident. If you were injured in a car accident and nobody else was at fault then you are limited to recover the bodily injury damages of your own policy. While the statutory minimum amount of coverage is $30,000 most insurance companies recommend at least $50,000 and many drivers carry $100,000 per person. Your insurance company is required to compensate you for medical bills suffered as a result of the accident, but you will not receive extra money for pain and suffering if you were at fault. Now just because all drivers are required to have car insurance doesn’t mean they all actually have it, and to account for this situation drivers are also required to carry uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage with the same policy minimums of $30,000 and $60,000. This coverage will kick in when the accident was caused by a person who was driving without insurance, or a person whose policy was insufficient to cover the amount of damages you sustained.
If another driver was at fault and maintained a valid insurance policy you can recover from them, and from your insurance company if you have PIP (personal injury protection). While PIP is required in many states, in Maryland a driver can waive PIP in order to lower the premium. PIP is money that will be paid right away for medical bills before it is established who was at fault, but PIP generally will not cover the entire bills. Most PIP policies are limited to about $2,500, which for a serious accident will only cover the initial bills.
In addition to recovering on your PIP policy, you can also recover under the other driver’s bodily injury and property damage policies if you were not at fault. In this situation we always recommend contacting a lawyer to recover the cost of your medical bills plus additional money for the pain and suffering you experienced. Be aware that insurance companies who know their client was at fault will generally try to offer a quick low-ball settlement to unrepresented individuals, which is why you should contact a lawyer before engaging in any conversations with an insurance company. Once you settle and sign a release without counsel you will likely be barred from recovering anything else in the future, even if new injuries creep up down the road. You should never accept a quick settlement in a car accident case because the full extent of your injuries is not always apparent right away. In some cases drivers do not begin to feel certain injuries until weeks after the accident, and then it could be weeks more until the right doctor makes an accurate diagnosis. While bruises and broken bones are immediately apparent, certain injuries such as nerve damage and post concussion syndrome are serious but not always recognizable. A general piece of advice after an accident is to seek immediate medical attention and then contact a lawyer that can guide you through the process of recovering the compensation you deserve.