Every state is either an at-fault or a no-fault state for financial liability after a car accident. In a no-fault state, each person's insurance would cover their own costs regardless of who caused the accident.
But Maryland is an at-fault state, which means that determining who caused the accident is very important for providing compensation to either party.
An at-fault state is also known as a "tort" state. That means the financial costs of any accident or injury are covered by the insurance policy belonging to the person who is at fault, or liable, for the crash.
In other words, if you're injured in a car accident in Maryland, there are 3 ways to pursue compensation:
There are several factors that are included in making a liability determination, and sometimes there's more than 1 driver who's at fault.
It's always a good idea to get a police report after an accident, no matter how small. It's also important to report it to your insurance company.
Remember: a report is different from a claim. In other words, you can report the accident to the insurance company and decide later that you're not going to file a claim. But if you choose not to report the accident to insurance within a certain period of time, then you might lose the ability to make a claim later if settling up with the other driver doesn't work out.
A police officer is trained to assess the accident scene and make observations about weather conditions, street signs and signals, the position of vehicles, types of damage, and other evidence that might contribute to demonstrating how the accident happened.
In addition, the police officer should obtain contact information from witnesses if they are at the scene.
When you file a claim with your insurance company, the adjuster will also ask for your own statement and if there's any other information that would be important.
As they attempt to settle a claim, insurance companies will often conduct their own accident investigations to determine fault. This might include reports by people who are trained to recreate an accident scene and other forensic experts, as well as taking the police reports and witness statements into consideration.
Sometimes, fault is clear and the insurance companies only need to negotiate how much the damages are and not who pays. But when there are questions about which driver is at fault, it's much more complicated.
If that's the situation, you should call a personal injury lawyer to sort things out. A lawyer has access to additional resources and experts, and they'll be your advocate when dealing with the insurance company.
You're under no obligation to speak with the other driver's insurer. They might call you after your insurance company initiates the claim and there are tricks that adjusters use to try to get you to admit fault without realizing it.
Your lawyer can handle these calls from the insurance company in order to make sure to maximize your compensation.
You're not required by law to get a police report if the accident is minor and no one was injured. You are required to get a police report if anyone was injured, if any involved driver is uncooperative and refuses to provide their information, or if any driver is drunk or leaves the scene of the accident.
However, it's best to get a police report even if it's not required for your accident. The police report can be an important piece of evidence as you seek compensation.
There are 2 reasons to file a lawsuit following a car crash:
If you file a lawsuit, you'll need to prove the following 5 elements:
Compensatory damages repay a plaintiff for the losses they've endured as a result of the accident. Within compensatory damages, you can recover economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those that have a specific financial cost. This might include:
Non-economic damages don't have a specific monetary value. This category of damages still aims to compensate you for losses, but they could be intangible losses which means it's harder to assign a specific monetary value. Examples of non-economic damages include:
Occasionally, you can claim punitive damages for a Maryland car accident, but it's unusual for a court to award them. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant or serve as a deterrent against repeating the behavior that caused the injury. However, it's almost impossible to receive punitive damages for a personal injury because you'd need to prove actual malice and that's unlikely in a car accident.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more