Maryland Auto Accident FAQs
Accidents can cause panic and commotion—unforeseeable in most normal circumstances—all because they were unexpected. When faced with accidents, people often make very important decisions poorly due to a lack of proper information. If you or a loved one are the victim of a car accident, then you can possibly be compensated thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars depending on the circumstances and the extent of your injuries.
However, the key to a successful auto accident claim is taking the right steps after the accident occurs. Based on our decades of collective experience, as well as a survey of common concerns amongst our former clients, the attorneys of Otway Russo are pleased to present to you the most Frequently Asked Questions about car accidents in the state of Maryland.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
Confusion often sets in after a car accident. The first thing to do after a car accident is to get to a safe place and check for any injuries on your body. Whether you have sustained an injury or not, try and call 911 immediately. If you have sustained an injury, do not take any actions that may aggravate it further—we recommend finding somewhere safe and relaxed to recuperate and begin noting important details pertinent to your case.
While waiting for the police and the ambulance, if you are physically able to (and if the other driver didn’t commit a hit and run), approach and chat with the other driver to find out if they’ll admit to causing the accident or not. At this point, it is critical to begin collecting as much evidence as possible, noting the road and weather conditions, the names of those involved, tag numbers, insurance information of everyone involved, and the names, statements, and contact information of any eyewitnesses. If you can, try to take as many pictures as you can on your mobile phone. All of this evidence will come in handy when building your case because it can help you to prove the other driver’s fault in court in the event that they decide not to settle.
Should I Talk to the Police When They Arrive?
Absolutely. As long as you have done nothing wrong and are solely the victim, feel free to speak with the police. The police report containing your statement and that of the other driver’s will be collected and used as part of building a case against the at-fault driver. The police report will prove to be a useful piece of evidence in proving the other driver’s negligence, and increase your chances of receiving compensation.
When talking to the police about your injuries, however, be careful with what you say. Remember that the police report can work both ways; for example, if you tell the police you have no injuries and that you feel fine in the initial report, only to be diagnosed with a concussion a few days later, you may not be able to receive full compensation for that injury in your case. Concussions resulting from whiplash, head and neck injuries are very common and not readily discernable immediately after an accident, so it is advised that you tell the police you cannot give a definite answer until you receive medical attention.
Should I Tell My Insurance Company about the Accident?
You are obligated to cooperate with your insurance company and provide them with all relevant information related to the accident. Most insurance companies, in fact, require policyholders to report any car accident—no matter how minor—in a timely manner. Many of these insurance companies even go a step further to ensure that policyholders who do not report any auto accident in a timely manner risk the loss of coverage for the accident.
When discussing the accident with anyone, you should avoid making any verbal remarks as to who was responsible for the accident, as something you accidentally say might make you appear partially negligent; instead, you should only relate the facts surrounding the accident to them. We encourage you to contact us before providing any sensitive information to your insurance company or to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Additionally, you should NOT talk to the at-fault’s driver’s insurance company—under any circumstances—without a lawyer present.
Can I Sue the At-Fault Driver for the Accident?
Yes, you can and you should. Every driver has a duty to pedestrians and other motorists to be responsible and not behave in a negligent manner. Certain negligent behaviors that drivers are expected to avoid includes:
- Distracted Driving: This is a common cause of road accidents across Maryland. Texting, eating, or making a phone call while driving are all examples of distracted driving behaviors that result in accidents. Driving when tired—thereby resulting in sleeping behind the wheel—is also an example of distracted driving.
- Driving Under the Influence: Another common cause of road accidents across Maryland. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is against the law and punishable with years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.
- Reckless Endangerment: This includes speeding, tailgating, failure to indicate before breaking or making a turn and other aggressive and reckless driving behaviors can all be categorized under reckless endangerment.
Whenever it can be proven that a driver is guilty of any or all of these negligent behaviors, he or she will be held responsible for any resulting accident. An investigation will take place to determine which party is at-fault, but be assured that Otway Russo’s attorneys have the experience necessary to prove the other driver is at-fault, and are committed to helping you claim the compensation you rightfully deserve.
What kind of damages can I expect to recover from the at-fault driver?
Whether or not you were injured in an auto accident, the fact still remains that it is an emotionally and financially draining situation; as a result, when suing the at-fault driver, he or she can be held liable for any of the following damages:
- All past and future medical expenses;
- All past and future lost income;
- All the costs associated with alleviating the pain and suffering resulting from the injury; and,
- All past and future vehicle repair or replacement expenses.
Additionally, when a driver is found to have intentionally and willfully caused an accident through gross negligence, then it is possible to collect further compensation in the form of punitive damages as well.
The at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance. Is there anything else I can do?
Yes, there is. You can file a claim against your own insurance company as part of your uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM or UIM) coverage. It is quite unfortunate that many people drive around Maryland without insurance, and it is even more unfortunate that these people are often the ones who drive the most recklessly.
Nevertheless, now you are aware of the options that exist when dealing with an uninsured driver. Don’t worry about filing a claim against your insurance company—it is part of what you pay for, so it will not be held against you when it comes to future rates.
What are my claims options if I am a passenger in the accident and not the driver?
If you happen to be a passenger and not the driver, you might feel you have no way to claim any form of compensation. But don’t worry—if you happen to be a passenger and were injured as a result of a negligent driver, you can be compensated.
Regardless of whose car you are in, when an accident occurs, you are automatically entitled to file a claim against someone. Contacting a personal injury lawyer will give you all of the information necessary to make an informed decision, and they can help you know the right person to file your claim against. Contact us today for a free, no-strings-attached consultation to discuss your case if you were injured as a passenger in a car accident.
Can I seek damages if the other driver’s negligence caused a loved one’s death?
This is referred to as a “wrongful death” action, and it is quite similar to a personal injury case. If a loved one was killed as a result of a negligent driver’s actions, then you should contact us today to discuss the next steps towards filing a wrongful death action, in which you and other family members will be known as wrongful death claimants.
Wrongful death claimants are the rightful beneficiaries entitled to receive compensation for damages against the victim in a wrongful death case. In order to file and win a successful wrongful death claim, an attorney must be able to prove that the driver was negligent and caused the accident that resulted in a wrongful death, and more importantly, that the wrongful death claimants suffered a huge loss due to their financial and emotional dependence on the deceased.
Is there a statute of limitations to filing a personal injury lawsuit as a result of a car accident?
Yes, there is but it differs from state to state. In the state of Maryland, the statute of limitation is three years. This means that you have three years to file a claim after the accident occurred. If you are thinking about filing a claim, speak to one of our experienced lawyers today to learn more about how we can help you after a car accident.