Greenbelt, MD Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been involved in a car accident, you should work with an attorney.  Accepting compensation from the defendant or their insurance company can often end your case, and it is unlikely that the offers they make you before negotiations are going to be enough.  If you accept this money without talking to a lawyer, you could be stuck with many of your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages unpaid.

Our attorneys can negotiate with the insurance companies and seek to raise any insufficient offers.  We can also calculate damages on our own and help you make sure that you are not missing any areas of damages, especially when it comes to calculating pain and suffering.

Call our car accident attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras today at (410) 694-7291 for a free case assessment.

Who Pays Damages in a Car Accident in Greenbelt, MD?

Maryland uses a fault-based system for car accidents.  This means that damages are usually paid by the driver who caused the accident.  However, we do have a mandatory PIP (personal injury protection) insurance requirement in Maryland that we have to specifically reject if we do not want to have it.  This is a first-party insurance policy that attaches to our own insurance and pays for some of our damages after an accident.  However, the majority of the damages are going to come from the at-fault driver, usually through their insurance.

When claiming damages in a car accident case, it is vital to have our car accident lawyers review the offer, as any money you accept from the at-fault driver’s insurance could qualify as a legal settlement.  After settling your case, you cannot claim additional damages.  The issue is considered legally over, and you usually sign away any right to continue claiming compensation.  If you accept insurance payments from the defense, you usually cannot go back to court after; you only get one bite at the apple, so it is vital to make it count.

Proving Fault in a Greenbelt, MD Car Accident Case

Since the damages are paid by the driver who caused the crash, we will have to look into the facts of the crash and determine who is at fault.  Insurance companies and courts are usually unwilling to pay damages unless and until there is sufficient proof of fault, making this a huge point of contention in most car accident cases.

In Maryland, fault becomes an even bigger issue because of our contributory negligence rules.  Under this law, any fault on the part of the victim will automatically block damages entirely.  This means that if you are even 1% responsible for the crash, your damages will be blocked, and you will be left with the coverage from your PIP policy only.

To determine fault, courts and insurance companies look at whether either driver violated a traffic law.  If there was a violation that led to the crash, then that is often enough to supply fault.  If there was no violation but the driver did something else unreasonable behind the wheel, that can supply fault instead.

If there were multiple drivers involved in the crash and each one was found to have violated the law except for you, then you can sue each one for their share of fault.

Many situations can result in what looks like the victim’s shared fault at first blush but eventually resolves with the defendant being held 100% responsible.  This can include situations where the victim might have made a mistake through negligence but the defendant committed a reckless act or in situations where the victim’s negligence was cut off by the defendant having the last clear chance to avoid the crash.

When to Settle Your Car Accident Case in Greenbelt

Our lawyers can help calculate damages in your case and give you an idea of what your case should be worth.  This valuation of the case is likely to be higher than any valuation the defendant’s insurance company uses, especially early in the case before they have seen the full facts and damages you faced.  After the case progresses – especially if we file a lawsuit and get through the “discovery” stage of the trial – both sides might have a better idea of what the case is truly worth.

After we have evaluated your case and estimated damages, you can compare any insurance settlement offers with this value.  If the defense is willing to meet you at that level and settle the case, you can end the case quickly and avoid any further need to go to trial, take depositions, or pay for additional legal services.  However, if the defense is still a long way away from the true value of your case, our lawyers can negotiate and advise you on how much further to press your case.

When we take the case to court, the jury puts a value on your case instead of the defense, and they order them to pay the full value as they have decided it.  This can be a benefit in cases where the jury orders damages higher than what the defense was willing to settle for, but it can also cut the other way.  If there is a risk of the jury returning a low verdict or ruling against you, it might be better to settle before the case goes to trial.

In any case, our lawyers can assess the damages in your case and advise you every step of the way as to whether settlement is appropriate yet or whether you should keep negotiating or fighting in court for higher compensation.

Call Our Car Accident Attorneys in Greenbelt, MD Today

Call (410) 694-7291 for a free case assessment with Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ car accident attorneys.