Car Accident Laws in Maryland
Maryland is a “tort” state, also known as an at-fault state, which means that determining who caused the accident is very important for providing compensation to either party. However, before worrying about who’s at fault, ALWAYS first make sure everyone is safe and call 911 if anyone needs medical assistance. Maryland does, in fact, have a three-year statute of limitations on car accidents from the time of the accident so make sure your accident was within the time frame before pursuing compensation.
How to Pursuit Compensation in the state of Maryland
Generally, there are 3 ways to pursue compensation. You can either:
• File a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company
• File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver
• File an uninsured motorist claim on your insurance policy (this is done when the driver at-fault doesn’t have insurance)
Determining Who’s At Fault
It is important to understand that there may be more than one driver who’s at fault. The Maryland state follows the pure contributory negligence rule of fault, which means that if you had any fault for the accident, you can’t recover any damages from the other party in a lawsuit.
A police officer who is trained to make observations about street signs, signals, weather conditions, and the positions of vehicles will file a report which will also be available to you if needed. In addition, the police can also obtain information from witnesses if they were any at the scene.
This is why, if you are in condition, you can take pictures of the scene before the police arrive and gather information from witnesses. Video recordings also work great, especially when asking witnesses for information.
Gathering information is important because Maryland doesn’t permit any damage recovery from a lawsuit if you have any liability. Therefore, if you are not at fault, you should do your best to prove it.
Here at Legal Chiefs, we specialize in connecting people with the right attorney and if you find yourself in a car accident in Maryland, get in touch with us, and we’ll make it easier for you!
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Auto Accident FAQ
Your first and foremost action following an accident is to stay calm, check if you or anyone else involved has been injured, and call the police. Get the name and contact information of all parties involved in the accident as well as any witnesses of the event. To document the damage, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles, and your injuries. It’s important not to admit liability until you hire an attorney because they will conduct a thorough investigation to establish the driver at fault.
Right after a car accident, you may feel fine, but injuries can surface days, weeks, and even months later. That’s why it’s good to see a doctor even if you don’t believe you were injured in the accident. Your doctor can recognize issues or injuries that won’t immediately become apparent to you and alert you to warning signs of injuries that may arise due to the accident. If you fail to treat your injuries within a certain period of time, you may forfeit your right to get reimbursement for future medical costs. The general rule is not to settle auto accident claims without having been examined by a medical professional.
In most cases, you won’t have to go to court. The majority of auto accident claims are resolved outside of court after negotiating the terms with the insurer. Most insurance companies generally try to settle claims as quickly as possible and for as little money as possible, so it’s wise to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf.
In addition to taking pictures of the accident scene and taking the contact information of the involved parties and witnesses, your detailed explanation of how the accident happened is also necessary to file a claim. Law enforcement reports of the accident will also serve as crucial evidence in your claim.
Many factors determine the driver at fault in an auto accident case. Do not accept any part of the blame until the investigation has concluded. Even if the investigation finds that you are partially at fault, you may still be entitled to receive compensation.
There are cases when the victim also shares part of the blame for an accident. If, for example, you were driving five to ten mph over the speed limit when the accident happened, this would have limited your reaction time, and you could likely be considered a negligent driver even if you weren’t the one to cause the crash. Different states have different ways of settling auto accident claims where more than one driver is at fault. So it’s best to check the specific laws in your state (or the state where the accident took place) or discuss the matter with your auto accident injury lawyer.
It happens surprisingly often that people get into an auto accident where the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance. In these situations, it’s wise to have an auto insurance policy that comes with Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. That way, if you get into an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you will still be able to file your claim under the UM coverage you have with your own insurance company. Your insurer will then process the claim following the same process as it would for an opposing insurer. The only difference is that the claim will be against your UM coverage and not against another driver.
Likewise, if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident where the responsible driver fled the scene before you could take their information, you can again seek compensation from your UM coverage.
Suppose you suffered injuries after an auto accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence. In that case, there are two main types of damages that you may seek compensation for: compensatory (a.k.a. monetary) and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are the most common type of damages in a personal injury claim, and they often include:
● Current and future medical bills
● Property damage
● Emotional duress
● Lost wages
● Loss of enjoyment of life
● Loss of future earnings potential
On the other hand, punitive damages are much rarer, but they can occur in situations where the vehicle manufacturer is to blame.