Car accidents are an unfortunate part of driving in Maryland. Even the most cautious driver might find themselves in a collision or unavoidable fender bender. the steps you take after any accident will significantly impact your ability to receive compensation for your damages or hold another party liable for your injuries. Fortunately, auto insurance will often cover your losses. In Maryland, drivers are required to carry a minimum amount of coverage for liability, personal protection, and property damage.
Our Baltimore car accident lawyers understand that working with insurance companies is not an easy task. When you are nursing an injury, waiting to get back to work, and staring at a pile of unpaid medical bills, working with an insurance adjuster is the last thing you want to do. However, what you say to an insurance adjuster will affect your ability to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Below, our team of knowledgeable attorneys offers a guide to filing an insurance claim. However, it is advisable to speak with an attorney if you have been injured in a car accident. Whether you are negotiating a settlement or fighting for just compensation in court, competent legal representation will help you maximize your potential award. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free and no-obligation appointment to discuss your case.
Car Insurance Laws in Maryland
Drivers in Maryland are required to carry auto insurance. More specifically, any motorist must have liability insurance, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage
In addition to the type of insurance you must carry, Maryland law dictates minimum amounts. For liability coverage, a motorist must have $30,000 in coverage for bodily injury, $60,000 for bodily injury of two or more people, and $15,000 of coverage for property damage. the minimum coverage for PIP is $2,500. Any driver who fails to meet these legal requirements could be fined or have their driver’s license suspended. it is important to note that these are minimum requirements. Prudent motorists will likely carry additional coverage.
Maryland Insurance Claims
When you are in a car accident, the last thing that you want to worry about is dealing with your insurance company. the harsh reality is that all drivers in an accident will have to deal with their insurance company following an accident.
Filing an insurance claim should be a relatively easy process. Sadly, many times it is not. Car accidents and insurance claims follow the “at-fault” system in Maryland. This means that your claim must prove the other driver was at fault before you can recover money for damages. After proving the other driver is at fault, you can recover compensation by either:
- Filing claim with your insurance company;
- Filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company; or
- Filing a lawsuit against the other driver
Filing A Claim with Your Insurance Company
You pay for insurance for coverage in the event of an accident. Therefore, it’s important that you take advantages of the services you pay for. When filing a claim with your insurance company, follow these basic steps:
- Follow the company’s directions. They will tell you what information you will need to provide.
- Avoid discussing any injuries or even your health.
- Provide insurance company with the information requested with regards to time and place of the accident, circumstances leading to the accident, weather conditions, any names and contact information obtained, and photos.
- Keep records of any and all accident-related expenses such as repairs and medical expenses.
- Consult our skilled Maryland car accident attorneys if you receive any settlement offer.
Dealing with the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
An insurance company’s goal is to avoid paying out money. Therefore, the other driver’s insurance company will be attempting to pay out the smallest possible settlement, if they pay out any money at all!
You are not required to speak to the opposing party’s insurance company. You have no obligation to provide any recorded statements. Make sure to direct them to your insurance company or our Aberdeen car accident attorneys.
As stated above, an insurance company might request permission to record your statement. There are specific reasons that this request is made. Unfortunately, it is not done so to help your situation.
First, the defendant’s insurance company is simply looking to determine what occurred. it is a common practice to request recorded statements from all parties involved in the crash. By speaking with the at-fault driver and the victim, an insurance company will attempt to sort out the details of what happened.
More importantly, an insurance company will request a recorded statement to help find ways to limit their liability and either reduce or deny your claim. An insurance company will conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding an accident. it will also look to verify the extent of damages and injuries sustained in the crash. By being conversational and sympathetic, an insurance adjuster will attempt to solicit answers that could be used to hurt your claim. For example, simply saying “my back feels fine” could be used to diminish the seriousness of your injuries.
Insurance adjusters will review any statement you give them and compare them with statements you made to the police after the accident. They will also compare these statements with any allegations you make in a personal injury lawsuit. If they can find inconsistencies or contradictory statements, it will hurt your chances in both negotiations and at trial. the problem is, if you tell the same story five or six times, you are likely going to have some inconsistencies. By sticking to simple facts or declining to give a statement, you could decrease the chances of a statement coming back to haunt you. Before speaking with an insurance provider, you should review your case with our experienced Baltimore personal injury attorneys.
Things You Should Avoid Saying to an Insurance Provider
Many of the questions asked by insurance adjusters are best answered by medical experts or our Maryland personal injury lawyers. You are not a medical professional and, at best, are only able to offer a layperson’s opinion on an injury, treatment, or prognosis. For instance, an insurance adjuster might ask an innocent question such as, “what type of injuries did you sustain in the accident?” While this might appear straightforward and not a trick, you likely do not know the full extent of your injuries. You do not want a recorded response that is incomplete and not medically accurate. Any statement you give an insurance company, especially if it inadequately described your injuries, could be used to reduce a settlement offer.
Any recorded statement you make to an insurance company could be relied upon in court if you file a personal injury lawsuit. Contradictory statements could hurt your case. Evasive answers might also decrease your chances of prevailing. For example, if you stutter when asked if you were speeding at the time of the accident or offer an unsure response, it could be used as evidence that you also contributed to the crash. Because of Maryland’s contributory negligence laws, this could prohibit you from receiving any compensation.
When speaking to any insurance provider, you should stick to the facts. You could give the time of day, the direction you were traveling, the type of car you were driving, and where the accident occurred. You should not offer opinions or volunteer any information that was not asked. Do not offer any medical history or speak about previous or pre-existing injuries. Remember, any insurer is looking for information and evidence to reduce its liability.
Filing a Lawsuit to Recover Damages
Your claim may be denied or you may not receive full compensation for your injuries. Whenever this is the case, you should consider filing a lawsuit to recover damages.
Filing a lawsuit will trigger a lengthy legal process. Although you may end up recovering more in damages, it may require several months if not years to receive your compensation.
Maryland law requires drivers to maintain insurance policies to cover personal injury. the personal injury protection (PIP) must cover at least $2,500. This small amount may not be enough to cover all of your accident-related injuries. A lawsuit allows an injured party to seek additional compensation for expenses such as lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical bills.
What is Contributory Negligence?
Maryland drivers are able to recover damages so long as they are not partially at fault for their own injuries and damage. Maryland implements the “contributory negligence” theory. Under this theory, which was recently upheld in court, a driver is completely barred from recovery if they were even one percent at fault. Therefore, determining fault is imperative in Maryland car accident cases.
GET HELP FROM A BALTIMORE CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY TODAY
If you have been in a car accident, Rice, Murtha & Psoras can help you recover just compensation. We understand the complexities and stresses of dealing with insurance companies. We will carefully review the facts of your case in order to ensure that we help you recover the compensation you deserve. Schedule an initial consultation by calling (410) 694-7291 today.