Pleasant Hills Car Accident Lawyer

The nearly 108,000 traffic accidents reported to police in Maryland in 2015 produced 44,816 injuries and 521 deaths, including pedestrians and bicyclists, according to a Maryland Department of Transportation report. Every year since, more than 500 people have died as a result of car crashes in the state. Statistically speaking, these vehicle accidents are most likely to take place in the areas surrounding Baltimore and Washington, D.C. But the truth is that traffic accidents can happen anytime and anywhere, and when they do, they can profoundly affect you and your family. A Pleasant Hills car accident lawyer from the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow will fight to protect your rights. While you focus on healing after being injured in a car accident, we will focus on your legal case. Call (410) 777-8960 today for a free consultation.

Steps to Take After a Car Wreck

Those involved in car crashes have a few responsibilities at the scene, according to state law. Maryland Transportation Code §20–103 mandates that drivers stop as close to the scene as possible without obstructing traffic “more than necessary.” Maryland Transportation Code §20–104 requires motorists to “render reasonable assistance” to anyone who may be injured, as well as to provide their contact and insurance information to the other motorist or passengers or to a police officer who investigates the crash. If the crash involves an unattended vehicle or property, drivers must search for the owner and, if they are unable to find them, leave a note with their contact information, according to Maryland Transportation Code §20–105. In short, get out of traffic if possible, look after others involved in the auto accident, and call 911 if there is any damage or the possibility of an injury. Then you need to start looking out for yourself. If you are able, start documenting the accident scene by taking pictures of the damage to the vehicles involved and collect contact information and preliminary statements from any witnesses. If you are unable to do so, call a family member or friend and ask them to help. This evidence could prove crucial should your motor vehicle accident turn into litigation. Symptoms of an injury may not appear immediately, so it is best to seek medical attention also.

Understanding Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Standard

Elsewhere in the country, a simple process often plays out following a car accident that causes an injury when the victim files a claim with the other motorist’s insurance company. The insurance company will investigate the victim’s claim and—depending on the circumstances of the case and the laws of the state—offer a settlement. The parties will negotiate and, if no deal is reached, the victim will file a lawsuit. In Maryland, this process is not always so straightforward.

Contributory Negligence

The biggest difference between Maryland and most other states is that Maryland uses what is called the “contributory negligence” standard. This means that if you are deemed to be even 1% at fault in an accident, you cannot recover damages. This is only the case in three other states and Washington, D.C. In many other states, your recovery is reduced based on your degree of fault, but it is not eliminated. In Maryland, the other motorist’s insurer only must demonstrate in court that you are 1% at fault to escape compensating you for damage to your vehicle and your personal injuries. This is why it is vital to document the accident scene as thoroughly as possible. That is also why it is important to have a Pleasant Hills car accident lawyer in your corner. Call the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow at (410) 777-8960 today for a free consultation.

Car Insurance Liability

The state does not require drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, though insurers offer it. PIP covers motorists’ lost wages and medical bills regardless of fault following an automobile accident. If you do not have PIP and you are found even slightly at fault for an accident, you could be responsible for the damage to your vehicle and your own medical bills. If you file a claim against another motorist’s insurance company, your settlement will be limited by the amount of coverage they carry. Maryland requires a minimum of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage and $15,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage. (The law also requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist insurance coverage of equal value, which will cover you if the other party does not have insurance.) If your damages exceed the other person’s insurance coverage, you may take your case to court—though even if you prevail, it can sometimes be difficult to recover compensation.

Recovery of Damages Is Limited After Being Injured in a Traffic Accident in Pleasant Hills

Maryland does not limit economic damages—for example, tangible damages such as past and future medical expenses and lost wages—in personal injury cases. There is a cap on softer noneconomic damages for things like pain and suffering and mental anguish, as spelled out in Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code §11-108-109. As of October 2020, the limit is $875,000 and rises by $15,000 every year. If the car accident resulted in a wrongful death claim with two or more beneficiaries, the total noneconomic damages cannot exceed 150% of that limit which as of October 2020, is a little over $1.3 million. There are no limits on punitive damages, but the state sets a high bar for receiving them. They can only be awarded when there is “actual malice,” meaning the other party intended to do you harm or knew their actions would be harmful.

Statute of Limitations in Maryland

Most civil actions, including lawsuits involving car accidents, must be filed within three years from the date of the accident, according to Courts and Judicial Proceedings Code §5–101.

Contact the Office of a Pleasant Hills Car Accident Attorney for Help Today

A Pleasant Hills car accident lawyer can help protect your rights after a car crash and will fight for the compensation you deserve. You should not have to worry about dealing with insurance companies and filing claims, we will take care of that while you take care of yourself. Call (410) 777-8960 for a free consultation with the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow today.