In this guide, our Maryland car accident attorneys from Rice, Murtha & Psoras will tell you how to file a car accident claim in Maryland, how to send a demand letter, how to weigh your settlement offers, and how to pursue the issue in a lawsuit if you are not offered a fair settlement.
Maryland’s At-Fault System for Car Accidents and Insurance Laws
To understand your options, it is first important to know that Maryland has a traditional “at-fault” car accident insurance system. This means that if you were injured in an accident, you will be required to prove another driver or party was to blame for the crash. Therefore, if you are an accident victim, you have three ways to seek financial compensation for the harm you suffered. First, you could file a claim with your insurance company. This might be necessary if the at-fault drive has no insurance or assets. However, if the at-fault driver is insured, you could file a claim with their insurance provider. If you cannot come to a reasonable settlement, you are entitled to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
How to File a Car Accident Claim in Maryland
When another driver causes an accident, you will want to collect information from the other driver, including the insurance company’s contact details, including the company name and policy number. You should not assume that the at-fault driver will be reporting the accident to their insurance company. In most cases, the accident victim will have to report the accident.
You will also want to inform your own insurance provider of the accident. First, you are probably contractually obligated to report an accident. Furthermore, it might be necessary to file a claim against your policy if the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured.
If another driver was at fault in an accident, you are entitled to file a claim against their insurance provider. This type of claim is known as a third-party claim because you are filing a claim with an insurance company that is, likely, not your own. it is important that you file a third-party claim as soon as possible after the accident, and we highly recommend that you contact an experienced Maryland car accident attorney prior to filing an injury claim. A property damage claim, which you would send to your insurance company, may also require the assistance of a lawyer.
Once you have filed a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you will likely receive a reservation of rights letter. According to the International Risk Management Institute, this letter is “an insurer’s notification to an insured that coverage for a claim may not apply. Such notification allows an insurer to investigate (or even defend) a claim to determine whether coverage applies (in whole or in part) without waiving its right to later deny coverage based on information revealed by the investigation.”
In a nutshell, this letter signals that an insurance company is not admitting any liability in your accident. They may investigate your claim and decide it is valid; they may later determine that you do not have a valid claim. the reservation of rights letter is all part of the process.
How To Send a Demand Letter to the Insurance Agency
After notifying the insurance company of your third-party claim, the next step is to send a demand letter. This letter is basically what it sounds like: You are writing to the insurance company to tell them how much compensation you require for your injuries. At this stage, it is suggested to work with an experienced Maryland car accident lawyer to help evaluate what your claim is worth. Understanding the compensation you are entitled to or likely to be awarded if you filed a lawsuit is critical in determining a reasonable demand amount.
Numerous factors will influence your settlement request. How extensive are your injuries? How much have they cost you? How much have they disrupted your life? Have you lost income as a result? Did you lose your car? Did you lose your job? Your house? You should assess all these factors when laying out your demands.
After you send the letter, the claims adjuster will likely return with an initial offer. There is a good chance the offer will be a lot lower than you initially asked for. Insurance companies are in the business of making money; they will try and avoid paying you as much money as they possibly can.
At this point you have two options. You can accept the initial offer, even if it is much lower than you wanted or you can make a counter-offer. At this stage, it is important to remember that you are not required to accept a settlement offer. You can re-assert your original case, you can provide the claims adjuster with more medical documentation or more repair bills, or you can try any number of other approaches. This process of negotiation may go on for a while. While this might seem frustrating, it is normal.
Determining Fault for a Car Accident in Maryland
During this process, the insurance provider for the at-fault driver will be investigating your claim. This investigating includes determining if their insured was wholly to blame for the accident. An insurance adjuster could also ask you questions regarding your role in the accident and the severity of your injuries. You are not required to answer their questions. the purpose of this investigation and line of questioning is not to come up with a fair settlement offer. the adjuster is looking for ways to limit or deny your claim. In Maryland, if one driver contributed to an accident, they are prohibited from recovering damages through a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, if you admit to an adjuster that “maybe you didn’t see the other car,” it could be used to deny your claim altogether.
In addition to getting you to admit even partial liability, an insurance adjuster tries to solicit a statement regarding the severity of your injuries. Saying something as innocent as “I feel fine” could be detrimental to your claim. These are just a couple of the many reasons why it is essential to have a skilled Maryland personal injury attorney representing your interests.
Should You Accept the Settlement Offer?
After negotiations, the insurance adjuster may make a final settlement offer. At this point in the process, you have two options. First, you can either accept the offer. Once you have accepted an offer, you are prohibited from seeking further compensation. This means that if you experience further medical complications or are out of work longer than anticipated, you cannot go back and ask for more money, including filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Remember, you are not required to accept a settlement offer. If the final offer is not reasonable in your opinion, you are entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you choose this direction, it is advisable that you seek the help of a Baltimore car accident lawyer.
First, a knowledgeable attorney will advise you whether the offer was reasonable in relation to the harm you suffered and the legal strength of your case. Another reason to engage a lawyer early in the process is to thoroughly understand these considerations before the final offer is on the table. Additionally, a personal injury attorney could help you navigate the complex and sometimes confusing world of lawsuits. the purpose of a lawsuit is to recover the maximum compensation for you the harm you suffered. An experienced attorney will help you determine if your best course of action is a lawsuit or accepting the settlement.
Contact Our Experienced Maryland Car Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation
The days following a car accident are often chaotic, especially if you were injured. When you are trying to recover and get back to work, dealing with an insurance company is the last thing you want to do. Insurance companies are also aware of this and will often offer you an artificially low settlement hoping that you would rather have money than aggravation. If you are having trouble recovering your full amount of damages from an insurance company, you should contact our experienced Maryland car accident attorney at Rice, Murtha & Psoras. Our attorneys and staff have been helping clients receive the compensation they deserve for decades. For a free consultation, call our office at (410) 694-7291.