Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions
It’s natural to have questions if you’ve been hurt in a Maryland car accident. Trying to recover financial compensation is tricky, primarily because insurance companies will make every effort to avoid making a fair payout. Knowing what to expect and understanding your legal rights can make a huge difference in the outcome of your claim.
When you need answers, the best way to get them is by speaking with a knowledgeable car accident attorney. A Maryland car accident lawyer can listen to what happened, explain your options, and tell you what compensation you may be able to recover. Below, the car accident attorneys at Trollinger Law LLC put together a list of answers to the most common car accident questions. For personalized advice about your crash, call or contact us today for a free consultation.
Who Pays the Bills After a Car Accident?
In most car accident claims, the insurance company for the party that caused the crash is responsible for paying for your medical bills, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and other crash-related expenses. However, the at fault party’s insurance company typically only makes one payment at the end of your claim. Therefore, it can take a long time for the personal injury claims process to play out, especially if the at-fault party fights the claim and a lawsuit becomes necessary. In the meantime, you have bills that need paying, so what can you do?
In the short term, your car insurance provider should cover the damage to your vehicle. If your car is totaled, your policy may give you enough to purchase a new vehicle. Regardless of who pays the property damage, the insurance company in Maryland is only required to pay what is the market value for your vehicle. Your insurer will try to recoup that money later from the person responsible for the accident.
Getting your medical bills and lost wages covered after an accident can be more challenging, especially if your health insurance provider is reluctant to pay for your bills. But you’re not necessarily out of luck.
Many Maryland drivers have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance policy, which is a benefit that covers some of your medical expenses and lost wages if you’re hurt in a wreck, regardless of who is at fault. The same is true if you have Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage as part of your policy.
Your health insurance provider should honor the terms of your policy and pay for whatever bills are covered under those terms. They can recover that money from the liable party at a later date through a process called subrogation. If your health insurance provider is fighting your claim or you’re having trouble getting compensation from the party who caused the accident, a skilled car accident can help you pursue the money you deserve.
How Do I Prove Someone Else Is Responsible for My Car Accident Damages?
To get full compensation for your medical bills and other losses after a car accident, you’ll need a strong case. The more evidence you have of your injuries and the financial harm you’ve suffered, the more money you could potentially recover.
A car accident attorney will work hard to secure evidence to prove the other party’s fault and to show the extent of the recovery you deserve for your injuries. Examples of evidence used in car accident claims include:
- Medical records: No Maryland car accident claim will get far without solid proof of an injury. Your medical records can be used to link your injuries to the crash and demonstrate the severity of the injuries and how they impact your life.
- Police accident reports: If someone is seriously injured in a car crash, law enforcement must investigate it. Officers will examine the scene, take statements from all of the drivers involved, and use other tools to determine what happened. If someone involved in the accident broke the law — for example, if they were speeding or intoxicated — the police may issue a citation or file criminal charges. While a personal injury claim is a civil court matter and cannot result in any criminal penalties, you can use the information from a collision report to bolster your case.
- Photos or video of the crash scene: If you’re able, take as many pictures of the car accident scene as possible. Having a visual record of the damage to your vehicle and the surrounding environment can be a powerful tool to show who is to blame for the accident. Similarly, check to see if the crash may have been recorded by any nearby traffic cameras or surveillance cameras. A video of the crash can make for compelling evidence when you file your claim.
- Eyewitness accounts: Third-party witnesses are valuable assets in a car accident claim because they can provide an objective viewpoint of what occurred. Be sure to get contact information for anyone who may have seen the accident.
- Expert witness testimony: Accident reconstruction teams, medical specialists, and other experts can all offer input to bolster your car accident claim. Their testimony is beneficial in complex cases where insurers are disputing the severity of the injury or the causes of the crash.
What Is Contributory Negligence in Maryland?
In most states, compensation in car accident cases is awarded using a method called comparative negligence. Comparative negligence means that compensation is divided according to the percentage of fault each party is assigned for the accident. This is a fairly reasonable way to award compensation because it acknowledges that accidents are not always one person’s fault while still giving the injured party a way to receive financial relief. However, their ultimate award will be reduced by their assigned portion of fault for the collision.
Unfortunately, Maryland does not follow the comparative negligence approach. Instead, the standard is called contributory negligence and is much harsher. In a contributory negligence state, plaintiffs in a personal injury claim can be barred from recovering any compensation if they’re even one percent at fault for an accident.
Maryland’s strict contributory negligence rule makes an experienced car accident lawyer all the more essential if you wish to seek compensation for your injuries. Without help from an attorney, you may find it challenging to refute arguments from the insurance company that you caused the crash. A knowledgeable lawyer will craft a strategy that gives you the best shot at maximum compensation.
Should I Settle My Claim?
While most car accident claims end in an out-of-court settlement negotiated between the various parties and their insurers, we do not recommend accepting the initial settlement offer before speaking to an attorney.
Insurance companies have a financial interest in getting you to take a quick, lowball offer when they know you have medical bills piling up. For this reason, the first settlement offer will not accurately reflect the full extent of your losses. Accepting that offer would mean missing out on future compensation, so acting quickly is not in your best interest.
By speaking to a lawyer before you accept any insurance settlement, you’ll get a chance to learn what your accident claim could really be worth. Your attorney can then begin working on getting you fair compensation for your injuries.
How Our Waldorf Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
The car accident lawyers at Trollinger Law LLC have many years of experience handling motor vehicle accident cases in Waldorf and throughout Maryland. We provide professional legal services tailored to each client’s needs and goals.
When you work with us, we will:
- Investigate the accident to identify all potentially liable parties
- Place a full and fair value on your car accident claim
- File the necessary paperwork to keep your claim moving
- Handle all settlement negotiations and other communications with the insurance company and lawyers on the other side
- Represent you in court in case a reasonable settlement cannot be reached
- Keep you regularly updated about the status of your case
Don’t wait to speak to one of our Waldorf car accident lawyers. Get a free case review today by calling one of our offices or visiting our contact page now.