Unfortunately, many thousands of car accidents occur every year in the state of Maryland. While some of these accidents are minor, resulting in no damage or only small, superficial damage to your vehicle, many times the accidents can be quite severe. Serious accidents can result not only in damage to your vehicle, but also physical injuries to yourself and your passengers. You may also experience emotional distress as a result of the accident.
The damages related to emotional distress can be severe. As an example, those suffer such distress can experience significant problems returning to work, enjoying their favorite hobbies, or engaging in social activities. Fortunately, after your car accident, you may pursue payment for your emotional suffering by filing a claim against the at-fault motorist.
If you were hurt as the result of a car crash, seek help from our experienced Maryland car accident attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras by dialing (410) 694-7291 for a free review of your potential claim.
Steps to Take at the Scene of a Maryland Car Accident
Of course, the first step to take after any traffic accident is to make sure that everyone in the vehicles is okay and uninjured. If anyone is hurt, even with minor injuries, they should get attention from a medical professional immediately so that a medical record is created.
After this, you should contact the police to come to the scene and make a report. While waiting for the police to arrive, it is smart to take photographs and videos of the scene and the damage done, as this can be used as evidence in a future court case.
When the officers arrive, give them a full and thorough accounting of what happened so that it will be accurately reflected in the report they make. Then, be sure to exchange personal information such as insurance with the other driver.
After you leave the scene, you will need to report the accident to your insurance company. Then, you should contact an experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyer like those at Rice, Murtha & Psoras who can assess whether a civil suit should be filed in your case.
How a Personal Injury Suit Works in Maryland Car Accident Cases
In order to win a personal injury case, your Maryland personal injury lawyer will need to show that the other driver acted negligently and that this negligence caused the accident and the injuries you sustained.
Typically, this is done by showing four things: that the other driver had a duty, that they breached this duty, that this breach is what caused the accident, and that damages resulted from the accident.
In the context of a car accident case, every driver has a duty to follow all the federal and state traffic laws and Maryland’s rules of the road. A driver could breach this driver by, for example, texting while driving and not paying attention to the road.
Your lawyer will work to show that the driver’s texting was the cause of the accident and the resulting damages.
If somebody was killed in the accident, their close relatives or their estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Maryland. Negligence is proven the same way in these cases.
However, there may be some different types of damages available, including loss of consortium and loss of future earnings if the individual contributed to the family finances.
How Long Do You Have to Sue for Emotional Distress After a Car Accident in Maryland?
Time windows for filing certain types of lawsuits are governed by states’ statutes of limitations. Under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 5-101, you will generally have three years from the date of your crash to file a lawsuit against another party seeking damages for your emotional distress. If you fail to adhere to this deadline, the defendant will likely move to have your potential case dismissed.
Furthermore, even though you may have three years to file your claim, you should begin gathering evidence and building your case as soon as you can. Important evidence can become hard to preserve or collect as time goes on. As an example, documents can be misplaced, witnesses can leave town, and physical evidence can deteriorate. The sooner you get in touch with our Columbia car accident lawyers, the more efficiently we can gather the information needed to win your lawsuit.
In addition, filing your case on time, it is important to note that there are several other conditions that must be satisfied when bringing your case to court. For instance, you need to file in the correct jurisdiction, attach necessary supporting documents, pay filing fees, serve all named defendants, and ensure that you are filing a complete claim. If any of these conditions are not satisfied, then you may have to re-file your case. Therefore, you should attempt to bring your car accident lawsuit to court as quickly as you can. That way, you may afford yourself time to file your claim again if necessary.
Damages in a Maryland Car Accident Case
The damages to which you are entitled after a car accident will vary depending on the amount of damage caused by the accident and other factors. Some of the most common types of damages we have won for our clients include damages for medical and hospital bills resulting from your injuries, any future or past lost of wages due to the injury, costs of long-term care like physical therapy and medication, and more.
Aside from your injuries, you can also make a claim for any damages that occurred to your vehicle in the accident. This could include the cost of repairs where feasible and the cost of a replacement vehicle where the vehicle is totaled beyond repair.
There is also a separate category of damages known as pain and suffering damages. These are damages for less tangible, non-economic damages resulting from the accident, including emotional distress. Pain and suffering damages can be awarded for damage to your mental health or well-being, past and future pain and anguish, inconvenience, physical impairment, and embarrassment from disfiguring caused by the accident.
An experienced Rockville personal injury attorney like those at Rice, Murtha & Psoras will first try to reach a settlement with opposing counsel that is fair and makes you whole. If no fair settlement can be reached, we will take the case before a jury and argue for a large award of pain and suffering damages by demonstrating the way that the accident has caused you severe emotional distress.
The jury does is not given a set formula to calculate pain and suffering damages. the cap on such damages is $875,000 for non-death cases and $1,312,500 for wrongful death cases, meaning awards can be quite high if the jury believes you have experienced great suffering.
One thing that is important to note is that Maryland follows the doctrine of “pure contributory negligence.” This means that if the jury finds that you were also at fault in the accident, even in the slightest way, you are barred from receiving damages from the defendant.
An experienced car accident attorney like those at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can work to convince the jury that all of the fault for the accident lies with the defendant.
Examples of Evidence Used to Support a Claim for Emotional Distress in a Maryland Car Accident Case
In order to recover monetary damages for your emotional distress, you must be able to prove that your suffering occurred because of your car accident. Such distress may stem from the traumatic memory of your accident or the injuries it caused. The following are all examples of evidence that may be used to support a claim for emotional distress in your case:
Medical evidence is one of the most valuable forms of evidence used to establish emotional distress. This type of evidence often includes documentation from healthcare professionals such as psychologists, psychiatrists, or therapists who have evaluated a victim’s mental health. Medical records, diagnosis reports, and treatment plans can provide objective evidence of the emotional distress experienced by the individual. Additionally, expert testimony from healthcare professionals can help demonstrate the link between a car accident and a victim’s emotional suffering.
After sustaining an accident, you should seek medical treatment as soon as you can. If you wait to see a doctor, then the process of acquiring relevant medical evidence can become more complicated.
Your Personal Testimony
Your personal testimony can also be helpful when seeking to support a claim for emotional distress. A personal account of your emotional distress, including any changes in behavior, relationships, or daily activities, can be highly compelling. Therefore, it may benefit you to keep a journal documenting the effects of your emotional suffering.
Testimony from Friends, Family, and Coworkers
Additionally, testimony from your friends, family, and coworkers can help support a claim for emotional distress in your car accident case. If these parties have observed your struggles, then their written and oral statements can be used to further bolster your case. As an example, these statements can attest to visible changes in your mood, demeanor, and overall mental state since your accident.
Photos and Videos
Finally, some accident victims experience emotional distress caused by the traumatic experience they underwent. For instance, someone who suffers a high-speed rollover accident may have harmful nightmares and experience serious anxiety when attempting to drive again after their crash. Accordingly, photos and videos may be utilized to help demonstrate that an accident was traumatic. For example, photos from the scene of your crash showing a badly crushed vehicle may be presented to prove that you experienced a severe crash.
Calculating Damages for Emotional Distress in a Maryland Car Accident Lawsuit
In Maryland, the two primary methods for calculating damages for emotional distress are the “multiplier” method and the “per diem” method. Our legal team can offer help when determining how each of these methods may be applied to your case.
The Multiplier Method
The multiplier method involves multiplying your total economic damages by a certain number to calculate damages for emotional distress. The multiplier is typically a number between 1 and 5, depending on the severity of your emotional distress. The number will be determined by evaluating factors like the extent of your emotional distress, the duration of your suffering, and its impact on your life. Furthermore, the credibility of the evidence you present may also be analyzed.
The Per Diem Method
On the other hand, the per diem method attempts to assign a specific monetary value to each day of emotional distress. This amount is then multiplied by the number of days you experienced emotional distress as a result of your car accident.
Call Our Skilled Maryland Car Accident Lawyers Today
Car accidents can result in serious damage to you and your vehicle, and this can in turn lead to expensive medical and repair bills. Furthermore, you may experience intense emotional distress as a result of being involved in such a traumatic event.
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, our experienced Aspen Hill car accident lawyers will fight to prove negligence and to make sure that the person responsible for the accident pays out the damages to which you are entitled. Call our office today at (410) 694-7291 for a free consultation.