Everything You & Your Family Need To Know About Your Major Accident Case

Introduction

Experienced Maryland Accident Attorneys

A car accident, truck accident, or motorcycle accident could be incredibly disruptive to your life and your health.  One moment you are going about your daily routine, and the next moment you are facing medical bills, time out of work, or worse.

If you have been injured in a major accident due to another person’s negligence, you can protect your rights to full and fair compensation by hiring a major accident attorney as soon as possible.  Having a knowledgeable attorney in your corner early in the process can be extremely beneficial in the long run.

The experience, skill, and resources that the major accident attorneys at D’Amore Personal Injury Law bring to your case are invaluable.  We stand up for your rights to make sure you get the best legal representation and the best financial recovery possible. We welcome you to schedule a free consultation with one of our legal professionals to learn more about what D’Amore can do for you.  You pay nothing unless and until you win.

What To Do After an Accident

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, there are some important steps you should take to protect your health and your legal rights.

  • Report the Accident.  Calling 911 or local police is important so a law enforcement officer can create a report of the accident.  The investigating officer on the scene can help determine who was a fault. If there are injuries, reporting the accident to law enforcement is required.
  • Get Treatment.  Do not delay seeking medical treatment if you are injured.  That could mean calling an ambulance or visiting the nearest emergency care center.  If you delay seeking treatment, that could impact an insurance company’s view of the seriousness of your injuries.
  • Obtain Contact Information.  Get contact information from all people involved, including names, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance information.  If possible, gather then contact information of any witnesses to the accident, and inquire as to whether there is any smart-phone video footage of the accident.
  • Contact an Attorney.  The only people with whom you should discuss the accident are the police, your doctor, and your attorney.  Providing statements to insurance representatives or signing paperwork before consulting an accident lawyer could lead to less compensation for you.

When to Contact an Attorney After an Accident

You should contact an attorney immediately after an accident.  Why? Because you only have a limited amount of time to file a claim, and time is of the essence in an accident case.  Valuable evidence can be lost or destroyed with the passage of time.

Moreover, your attorney will know what evidence to look for, and how to capture it – including skid marks or other relevant details.  Therefore, having your lawyer help you obtain and preserve evidence will give you an advantage when presenting that proof to an insurance adjuster.

Finally, having a lawyer available to help you immediately will avoid the possibility of an insurance adjuster obtaining a statement or other admission from you at the scene.  You want to be sure that your side of the story is not tainted by slanted questions from an insurance adjuster.

How Much Is Your Accident Case Worth?

It is always an important consideration to know what a case is worth.  We understand that consideration because major accidents can put a serious financial burden on you.

However, because every case is different, it is difficult to estimate.  The compensation you receive will depend upon how extensive your injuries are, the amount of medical expenses you have, and whether you are partially at fault for the accident.

In that regard, it is important to mention Maryland’s controversial contributory negligence law.  In Maryland, if you are even partially at fault for your accident (even minimally so), you are barred from recovering anything from the negligent party.  While this Maryland law differs from most of the states in the U.S., there appears to be little appetite to change it. Hence, Maryland’s contributory negligence law is another reason to avoid speaking with an insurance adjuster until after you have consulted with your attorney.

That said, assuming that there is no contributory negligence issue, you may be entitled to receive compensation for accident losses including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of consortium
  • Property damage
  • Loss of earning capacity
Insurance

Dealing With Insurance Companies After an Accident

No matter what type of auto accident you were involved in, our team has the skill, resources, and experience to help. Here are a few of the types of auto accidents our team negotiates and litigates.

Car Accidents

A collision between two cars might not seem like a complex case to negotiate at first. But attempting to negotiate with an insurance company without proper legal representation is never a good idea. Early in negotiations the insurance adjuster often behaves as though she is your friend, frequently making use of reassuring phrases and comforting tones. However, as you venture deeper into negotiations and ultimately hear why the insurance adjuster is not willing to fully reimburse you for the injuries you sustained, you quickly realize that these cases are not so simple. In fact, these cases require a lot of attention and a professional experience to resolve. Understanding exactly what to do following a car accident can save you valuable time and money over the course of your auto accident case. Without the right evidence, a deep understanding of what benefits are available following a collision, and more, you will not get a fair and just settlement in your case.

Truck Accidents

Truck accidents are complex. They require fast action and a solid understanding of how trucking insurance companies operate. Truck accidents must not be handled in the same way as car accidents. If they are, you will lose. To learn more about the core differences between these two types of cases—and why you must have a major accident lawyer knowledgeable in this unique type of traffic accident—visit the truck accident page.

Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcyclists are at an extreme disadvantage in collisions with automobiles. Without the same four-wall protection that cars provide, a biker’s injuries are more severe after any crash. This is of critical import because a major strategy frequently employed by insurance companies is to minimize the severity of the actual collision in an attempt to also minimize the severity of a claimant’s injuries. You need a professional on your side who recognizes strategies such as this and who is prepared to, and capable of, countering them. Further, proving that the other driver is at fault for causing the accident is not often easy, and failing to prove this point will be a disaster for your case. Our lawyers understand the Maryland laws pertaining to motorcyclists, as well as how to investigate or reconstruct the collision to prove you are not at fault.

The Importance of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

In order to understand the importance of Uninsured Motorist coverage it is essential to understand exactly what it is, what it does, and how it works. In Maryland motor vehicle insurance is compulsory; however, the required limits are rather low: $30,000 per individual per accident to a maximum of $60,000 aggregate per accident is all that is required.

Watch attorneys Paul D'Amore and Scott Lucas discuss this topic on Midday Maryland and why it's so important to be adequately covered.

Car Accidents

Steps To Take After a Baltimore Car Accident

No matter whether the other driver admitted fault or not, you need to protect yourself. The other driver is not the one responsible for paying your settlement; his insurance company decides who is at fault and how much you receive.

Even where an insurance company accepts that the collision is the fault of their insured, they will always go to great effort to minimize the value of your case so that you are not fully compensated. Sometimes insurance companies rely on the victim’s lack of knowledge of Maryland laws to avoid paying for medical expenses and lost wages.

To stay protected against tricks and tactics that the insurance company uses to pay you less, follow these five steps after a crash:

1. Call the police

You might not think the accident is bad enough to report. You might not think your injuries need immediate medical care. Still, it is important that you call the police to have a report filed and medical professionals evaluate you and your passengers. You will find out later that the police report plays an important role in your settlement.

2. Personal safety comes first

While it is best to not move the vehicles until the police have arrived, there may be times when you should move your vehicle after a collision. If your vehicle is in the path of other cars on the road and poses a safety threat, it is usually safer to move it out of the way.

Whether you move the vehicle out of the way will depend on the condition of the vehicle and your condition after the accident. Whether you move your vehicle to the side of the road or not, make sure you turn off the engine and engage your hazard lights. When fluids are leaking from the vehicle, such as fuel or oil, or if you cannot move your vehicle, get far away from your vehicle.

3. Gather Evidence

Car accident claims are not open and shut. They require evidence to support your side of the story and show what happened in the crash.

Here are some things you can gather to help support your case:

TAKE PICTURES

If you are physically capable, photographs should be taken at the scene. Photographs of the position of the vehicles after the collision and before they are moved will be of immense aid later in the prosecution of your case. Further, photographs of any skidmarks on the roadway, damage to the vehicles and injuries to persons are of critical importance.

NOTE THE CONDITIONS

Pay attention to the weather, road conditions, and traffic conditions. If it is cloudy, make a note of it. Often claimants believe they will remember these things later, however, if you fail to make note of it early on it will frequently be the case that you cannot remember the details later on. Remember, serious motor vehicle collisions can take as long as two (2) years to navigate through the litigation process if handled appropriately. Many of the details from early on may well be difficult to recall towards the end of the case.

LOCATION OF THE ACCIDENT

Write down where the accident happened. The best practice is to note the street intersection, nearest streets, or even a landmark. If you are able to do so, draw a diagram of the accident with the relevant positions of the vehicles involved and their direction and speed of travel.

DATE OF THE ACCIDENT

The date of the accident is of critical importance as it will control the date that the Statute of Limitations expires for your case. If the Statute of Limitations expires you will not be able, under law, to pursue your claim.

MAKES AND MODELS OF ALL VEHICLES INVOLVED

License plate numbers (If possible the license plates should be among the photographs that you take.) Name and insurance info for the other party involved (This is critical. Be certain to obtain the names and insurance information for all parties involved in the collision. Even if there is a party whom you do not believe was responsible for the collision, but who was nevertheless involved in the collision, be certain to obtain their name and insurance information as well.)

POLICE DEPARTMENT

Name of police department involved and police report number (if applicable) (This too is critical. Make sure that you have the police report number and appropriate department. There are many roadways and highways that have overlapping patrol coverage. The responding department to your collision could be the County Sheriff’s Department, the County Police Department, the State Police, local or city police or any number of Federal agencies, particularly if your collision happens in the District of Columbia. The accident report number alone will be of little use without knowing which agency responded to the scene and prepared the report.)

PEOPLE INVOLVED

Driver – Once you have identified the driver, exchange information with him or her. Make sure that at the end of your exchange you have the driver’s name, address, phone numbers, employer’s info, driver’s license number, name of insurance company, and insurance policy number. Associate the driver with his or her vehicle by keeping track of the vehicle’s year, make, model, color, and license plate. If the driver makes any statements about the accident or his injuries, then promptly write them down.

Lastly, the driver is not always the owner of the vehicle. Make sure you look at the Vehicle Registration Card to see the registered owner of the vehicle and the insurance company. Witnesses – If there were potential witnesses to the accident, get their information as soon as you can. Secure their names, addresses, and phone numbers. Good samaritans may stop to assist you and will usually leave when emergency personnel arrive, so get to them quickly or lose them forever.

LISTEN AND STAY QUIET

Listen carefully to what people at the scene of the collision are saying. This will allow you to locate potential witnesses, as well as obtain information that will help you if you decide to bring a lawsuit. In particular, you want to listen to the other driver to see if he or she admits fault or says things that show he or she did something wrong – like driving too fast or not seeing you.

If you hear any helpful statements then promptly write them down. You should stay quiet at the scene of the accident as to how the accident occurred or relevant details likes the speed of the vehicles. Your comments will not be helpful to you and will likely be used against you when you are trying to resolve the case. Never admit fault for the accident as an investigation may show differently.

4. Establishing Liability

To recover damages from someone as a result of an auto accident, you first need to establish that the accident that caused your injuries was that person’s fault. There are many different things that a driver can do that result in liability for an accident. The most common are:

  • Exceeding the posted speed limit
  • Failing to adjust speed to the conditions
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Disobeying traffic signs and signals
  • Failing to yield the right-of-way
  • Failing to keep a safe distance behind another vehicle
  • Not paying attention while driving
  • Increasingly, texting and driving or otherwise using a cell phone while operating a vehicle has been found to be the basis on which a claim of negligence can be founded

5. See a Doctor

Injuries from car accidents often not readily apparent for a few days. This is because your adrenaline is rushing so fast and furiously that you often cannot feel when you are hurt for a few days, weeks, or months. Some injuries—such as traumatic brain injuries—are especially difficult to detect. Seeing a doctor as soon after your accident as possible is important to uncover those hidden injuries and start getting treatment as soon as possible. In fact, we recommend taking an ambulance from the collision scene to the hospital. Many injuries are not readily apparent and it is always in your best interest to play it safe. Getting proper and prompt medical treatment can well be the difference between having an injury that becomes difficult to manage because of delayed diagnosis and one that can be appropriately handled early on lending itself to a better overall medical outcome.

Be choosy with whom you speak to

What you say will be held against you after a car accident. Be choosy about whom you talk to after the crash. What might seem like an innocent statement could come back to haunt you. Answer the police officer’s questions to the best of your ability but don’t be afraid to admit if you’re not sure about the answer to a question. It’s better to say you don’t know than to make something up and then realize you were wrong later on in your case. It also important not to make any apologies to anyone. It is often human nature to apologize for the happening of an event out of simple compassion that someone was injured. That compassion will often be used later by the insurance company to suggest that your apology was actually an admission of guilt.

Contact a Lawyer

You may have never imagined being in a situation where you sought the advice of a lawyer. However, after a serious car accident, it’s wise to put a professional on your side. There are many laws that impact your settlement. Without a skilled lawyer working on your behalf, you could leave quite a bit of money on the table. Contact an accident lawyer as soon after your collision as possible. Remember, even decisions made immediately after a collision have the ability to affect the outcome and value of your case. Those made in the days after a collision even more so. Never, under any circumstances, should you give any statements to any insurance company without first speaking with an attorney.

Truck Accidents

Baltimore Truck Accident Attorneys

A “regular” car accident and a commercial truck accident involve a different set of challenges and a different group of players.Though these vehicles share the same roadways, they are operated in a much different fashion, under different circumstances and for obviously different purposes. Further, the companies that insure large commercial trucks are specialized companies that are well versed in all manner of strategy aimed at avoiding liability for the negligent acts perpetrated by commercial truck drivers. It is critical that claimants be aware of this as collisions involving large commercial trucks, unfortunately, often result in catastrophic injury and/or death to innocent victims.

From the very inception of a trucking collision case you must be prepared to act with the utmost diligence in making sure that your case develops in such a way that you receive the just and fair compensation you deserve.

Truck Accident Evidence

Car accident attorneys are accustomed to collecting evidence after a crash, including witness statements, photographs of the vehicles involved, police reports, and more. However, when a commercial truck is involved, there is a different set of evidence that must be collected. Evidence in a commercial truck accident can be divided into three distinct categories:

DRIVER EVIDENCE

This includes the driver’s qualifications file, the driver’s training file, the hours of service documentation, the driver inspection records, and post-collision drug and alcohol screening.

VEHICLE EVIDENCE

This includes downloads of the on-board systems, maintenance history documentation, inspection history, and data GPS tracking systems.

LOAD AND CARGO EVIDENCE

This includes weight tickets, trip envelopes, dispatch instructions, delivery documents, and bills of lading.

Different Trucking Rules & Regulation

While all vehicles operated on the roadways and highways are bound by the “rules of the road,” such as speed, headlight use, etc., commercial trucks are subject to additional and far reaching regulation. Those regulations exists on both the Federal and State levels.

At the Federal level rules are established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, an agency of the United States Department of Transportation.

For the State of Maryland, the State Highway Administration, a division of the Department of Transportation, establishes trucking rules. The District of Columbia Department of Transportation serves this same function in Washington, DC. Commercial trucks are required to comply with the rules and regulations established by these applicable agencies and the failure to do so can be the basis for a claim of negligence even where the commercial vehicle operator has otherwise complied with the more universal traffic regulations applicable to all vehicles.

For this reason it is of great importance to have an attorney on your side who is knowledgeable in the rules and regulations that govern these commercial trucks and who is prepared to use that knowledge to get you the maximum recovery available.

Types of Truck Accidents

Regardless of the type of truck accident, if you or a loved one has been injured in a collision, you are entitled to compensation for your losses related to the wreck.

ROLLOVER ACCIDENTS

These typically occur due to fast speeds, steep inclines or steep declines, tripping on a curb or another object on the road, taking a curve too fast or trying to correct a trailer that has drifted off the road. Many rollover accidents are single vehicle accidents.

SINGLE VEHICLE ACCIDENTS

This type of accident usually involves the only the truck and commonly occurs from hazards in the roadway, driver behavior, and mechanical defects in the truck.

HEAD-ON ACCIDENT

Often times these accidents are caused by driver fatigue and the truck collides with traffic in the opposite direction. Head-on collisions generate tremendous forces that usually cause deaths or severe injuries.

REAR-END ACCIDENT

Although these create less force than head-on collisions, they can still cause death and serious injury. When either a car or truck driver fails to realize how much distance is needed to stop, the risk of a rear-end collision increases. The stopping distance for an 80,000 pound truck that is driving at 60 mph is approximately 420 feet (140 yards), which is longer than the length of a football field.

UNDERRIDE ACCIDENT

One of the most dangerous and fatal types of truck accidents, happen when a smaller vehicle hits the back of a truck that is near the same level as the top of the vehicle, causing the car to go underneath the rear trailer. Similarly, this type of accident occurs when a large truck (tractor trailer) comes into contact with a smaller vehicle and the smaller vehicle is pulled beneath the trailer. These types of catastrophic accidents can often be avoided through the use of an underride guard.

In fact the U.S. Department of Transportation has required that all trailers manufactured since 1998 be equipped with underride guards. Even for those trailers that aren’t mandated to have them underride guards are essential equipment and could well mean the difference between life and death for the drivers and passengers of motor vehicles involved in these type of collisions with tractor trailers. It is essential that you have an experienced attorney with access to the necessary trucking experts to secure the appropriate evidence and prepare the proper case to best ensure that you receive fair compensation and due justice for your injuries.

Causes of Truck Accidents

There are thousands of commercial trucks navigating our roadways every day. Unfortunately, some will be involved in serious accidents. Truck accidents result from a variety of factors, here are some common causes:

  • Inadequate driver training
  • Driver fatigue
  • Driver not paying attention
  • Driver disobeying traffic signs and signals
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Insufficient vehicle maintenance
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Harsh weather or poor road conditions
  • Texting or other cell phone use
Motorcycle Accidents

Baltimore Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

Motorcycle accidents can be life-changing. The best advice is to pretend that the other vehicles on the road do not see you, ride safely, and always be on the lookout for inattentive automobile drivers.

Common causes of motorcycle accidents:

  • Drivers not seeing motorcyclists
  • Negligent automobile drivers
  • Negligent motorcyclists
  • Poor road conditions
  • Inclement weather
  • Faulty equipment

Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident

If you should be involved in an accident, here are some steps that you should take:

Get treatment

Whether you think they’re serious or not, if you have any injuries from the accident, make sure you get evaluated and treated. We advise that you accept treatment at the scene from emergency response personnel and that you allow yourself to be transported directly to the emergency room. Not all injuries are readily apparent. This is the case even for some serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries. Proper and prompt medical treatment will go a long way toward making sure that you have the best medical outcome possible. Further, the insurance companies will often accuse a claimant who does not seek immediate medical treatment of later “faking” injury just to receive compensation. They will rely on as evidence of this claim the fact that a claimant may not have sought medical treatment immediately after the collision.

Do not discuss your injuries

After informing persons that you need medical attention, do not discuss your injury or make formal statements except to your doctor or legal advisor. This includes statements in writing, over the phone, or in person. These statements may later be used against you. This rule of thumb applies especially to communications with insurance companies. You should have no discussions regarding your injuries or relating to the manner in which the collision occurred with any insurance company without first speaking with an attorney.

Do not discuss your accident on social media

Do not post anything relating to your accident, your injuries or your recovery on social media. Increasingly, large insurance companies hire firms to troll social media sites looking for people discussing the either their accidents or their injuries with the hope of using that information to undermine the claimants case.

Do not admit fault

Many times, the exact cause of an accident is unclear immediately after the accident. People are sometimes tempted to apologize for getting into an accident, even when it’s not their fault. Also, people sometimes “agree” with a version of events given by an another, even when it’s not accurate. It is best to refrain from having any discussions at the scene regarding the collision. You should, however, be mindful of statements made by others and even make a note of their identities and comments when you have an opportunity to do so.

Take photos of everything

Pictures of your physical injuries, property damage, and the accident scene can provide good documentation for your claim. The key is to do this as soon as possible, before conditions change. Broken pavement, debris, or whatever it was that caused your injury should be documented before it is cleaned away. Pictures of your injuries (bruises, broken skin, etc.) should be taken before they heal. Pictures of your motorcycle or other damaged gear should be taken before they are lost or thrown away.

Talk to Witnesses

If possible, try to get information from any witnesses at the scene. Here is some information you should ask them:

  • Their names
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers and emails
  • What they observed

Obtain a copy of the police report

If police are called to the scene, make sure you get the name of the responding officer and the case number. You will also want to be sure to get the name of the officer’s department or agency. Police usually give you a business card with this information. The following day, ask to get a copy of the police report. It may take a few days for the report to be available. Read it carefully so you can point out any errors in the report to your attorney.

Track all medical and out-of-pocket expenses

Make a folder or an envelope and keep all your medical records and bills in one place, including doctor office visits, medications, laboratory tests, physical therapy, prescriptions, hospital visits, medical records, and diagnostic services (i.e., x-rays, MRI’s and scans).

F.A.Q.

Common Major Accident Questions

Are car accidents and truck accidents the same?

No. There are many distinctions between car accidents and trucking accidents. Many of those distinctions result from additional rules and regulations that apply to commercial trucks and that do not apply to passenger vehicles.

How Accident Settlements Work

  • If you are in an accident and can prove fault on the part of the other driver, you can file a claim under your own insurance policy, file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, or file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED that you engage the services of an experienced car accident attorney to assist you with this process. Insurance companies are in the business of saving money on claims. They are NOT motivated to look out for your best interests.
  • If you cannot settle with the insurance company, you can file a lawsuit and attempt to settle before going to trial.
  • Make sure you receive treatment for any injuries and ascertain the extent of all accident related injuries before you settle because once you settle, you cannot reopen the case in the future.

What damages can I receive as a result of my accident?

You are entitled to recover monies for the damage to your property (motor vehicle), medical expenses, both those that you have already paid and those that you can establish you are reasonably expected to incur in the future, lost wages, both wages you have already lost as well as wages you can establish that you are reasonably expected to lose in the future, non-economic damages (commonly referred to as “pain and suffering”), permanent physical impairment and permanent disfigurement. This list is not exhaustive and there are other damages potentially available depending upon the particular circumstances of your case.

Who can be held liable for a truck accident?

Generally, the driver of the truck and the employer for whom he is driving are the parties to be held responsible when a truck accident occurs.

What does “contributory negligence” mean when determining who is liable for a traffic accident?

Contributory negligence means that if you are found to be partially at fault for your accident, even if minimally so, you will be barred from recovering monies from other at fault parties. This is a legal doctrine that is exceedingly harsh to claimants and serves as another reason why you should never speak with an insurance company prior to speaking with an attorney.