In most cases, courts recognize the law in effect in the jurisdiction where an accident takes place. Within the legal field, this concept falls under a doctrine called “lex loci delicti” or “law of the place where the delict [tort] was committed.” If you experience a car accident involving an out-of-state driver within the state of Maryland, state laws apply and you can file the action in a Maryland court.
As with many laws, some exceptions may exist. The path to compensation after a harmful crash is not always straightforward. Accordingly, support from our legal team can be highly valuable when seeking compensation for the car accident injuries you sustained.
In the aftermath of your collision, seek guidance from our experienced Maryland car accident attorneys by calling Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 for a free assessment of your potential claim.
Explore Maryland Car Accident Laws
In Maryland, the courts use a fault-based system to determine liability in accident cases. Under the state’s contributory negligence rule, any act of carelessness bars someone from seeking compensation via a lawsuit. Even if the out-of-state driver was 99% at fault, a plaintiff responsible for 1% cannot recover damages.
Strict negligence standards complicate the personal injury recovery process in Maryland, regardless of out-of-state driver involvement. Insurance may provide the best and only means of recovery in the state. When filing a claim against an out-of-state driver, the process works the same as an in-state claim with one caveat: An insurance adjustor may use Maryland’s contributory negligence rule to reduce the company’s payout. In the event of a car accident in Maryland, knowing what to do after an accident can help you protect your right to compensation.
Steps to Take After an Accident in Maryland Involving Non-Resident Drivers
The moments after a car accident can be highly stressful. It may be difficult for victims to keep their composure. Still, there are certain actions you can take after a car accident that may help your ability to recover monetary damages from another, out-of-state driver.
Remain at the Scene and Dial 911
After suffering a car accident involving a nonresident driver, you should find a safe place to pull over and dial 911. Do not flee the scene of your accident. Fleeing the scene of your crash can result in you being charged with a hit-and-run.
After calling the authorities, the emergency dispatcher can send an ambulance to the scene for anyone who requires immediate medical attention. Furthermore, a police officer should visit the scene to draft their accident report. The officer’s accident report may include various pieces of information that help lawyers and insurance companies identify who is to blame for an accident.
If an officer did not visit the scene, then you may have to file your own crash report with the state within 15 days of your accident. A report must be submitted after any accident that causes an injury.
Exchange Information with Other Parties
Next, you should exchange information with other parties to your collision. The first step should involve retrieving contact information and insurance information from other drivers. Contact information should include their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
Additionally, contact information for any potential eyewitnesses to your accident should be recovered. Witnesses can offer written and oral statements that help establish fault for your crash. Our experienced Towson car accident lawyers can help when reaching out to eyewitnesses for their potential cooperation.
Document the Scene of Your Crash
Furthermore, you should also attempt to take photos at the scene of your accident if you can. Photos from the scene can assist your case in several ways.
First, photos can help identify factors that contributed to your collision. For example, photos showing your badly crushed car may be used to assert that another motorist was travelling at illegal speeds when they struck you.
Also, photos can be used to disprove a defendant’s argument. As an example, the other party to your accident may state that your crash was caused by rainy weather, as opposed to their negligence. In that instance, you may present photos from the scene showing clear weather to discredit the other party’s alternative notion of fault.
Finally, photos from the scene of your car accident can be very helpful when establishing the property damage caused by your crash. If your car was damaged as a result of your accident, then you may pursue compensation for the cost of its repair or replacement. However, the defendant may argue that certain damage actually stems from some subsequent incident, rather than the collision at issue. In that case, you could present photos from the scene depicting your damaged vehicle to help establish the property damage caused by your crash.
Seek Medical Care
You should seek medical treatment for your car accident injuries as soon as you can. If you did not receive emergency care in the immediate aftermath of your crash, then you should visit a doctor as quickly as possible. You will need a physician to document your injuries in order to recover damages from another party. Therefore, waiting for your injuries to heal on their own can significantly complicate the settlement process. Further, the defendant and their insurer may assert that a delay in your medical treatment means that you were not seriously hurt.
Contact Our Law Firm
Finally, you should contact our law firm as soon as you can after suffering a car accident with an out-of-state driver in Maryland. Our legal team can perform a free review of your potential case. Afterwards, our experienced attorneys will explain the appropriate course of action.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident Involving a Nonresident Driver in Maryland
In addition to remembering what to do after an accident, you should also take heed of what not to do. There are certain actions car accident victims may take that have the potential to hurt their claims.
Do Not Admit Fault
First, when speaking with witnesses, doctors, insurance agents, and any other parties to your crash, you should avoid making apologies or any statements that can be interpreted as admissions of fault. It may feel natural to say “sorry” after an accident, even if you are not to blame. However, such statements can be used against you when seeking payment for your injuries.
Do Not Speak with Another Driver’s Insurance Company
Second, you should not speak with another driver’s insurance company without first consulting with legal representation. Other drivers’ insurers may reach out to you quickly after your crash in an attempt to entice a quick and cheap settlement agreement. By seeking support from our legal team, you can avoid being taken advantage of by an insurance agent.
Do Not Post About Your Crash on Social Media
Furthermore, you should not post anything about your accident or your injuries on social media. Anything you publish will likely be analyzed when assessing fault for your crash and calculating the damages you incurred. There are many ways that a social media post can be problematic. For example, if you suffered a painful soft tissue injury in your back but post a video showing you playing sports, then that video may be used by the defense to argue that you are not actually hurt.
Do Not Allow Other Parties to Access Your Medical Records
Finally, you should not allow any other parties to access your medical records without consulting with our attorneys first. The more information the defendant’s insurance company has pertaining to your medical background, the more likely it is that they will try to use that information to deny your claim.
The Case for Optional Car Insurance in Maryland
Adequate insurance coverage gives policyholders the ability to pay for damages and secure compensation for injuries. Maryland requires all drivers to carry liability insurance to cover $30,000 for the death or injury of one person, $60,000 for the death of more than one person, and $15,000 for property damage. If a driver faces liability for a higher amount of damages, the courts may require him or her to pay personally. In cases involving at-fault non-resident drivers, many insurance companies amend their limits to meet the minimum requirements of the state where the accident occurred.
In addition to liability insurance, many drivers choose to invest in collision, medical, uninsured motorist, and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. These optional types of coverage may pick up where another insurer’s coverage leaves off, giving drivers access to compensation in accidents involving uninsured and underinsured drivers.
Considering Settlement Offers in Maryland Car Accident Cases Involving Out-of-State Drivers
After filing a car accident lawsuit against a resident or nonresident driver in Maryland, you will likely be presented with a settlement offer before going to trial. If you accept a settlement agreement, then the defendant will pay you a certain amount of compensation in exchange for the voluntary dismissal of your claim. There are some advantages to settling before trial. For example, plaintiffs who settle early can save on expenses like administrative costs and witness fees. Further, those who reach settlement agreements may obtain monetary damages more quickly.
Unfortunately, defendants in car accident lawsuits are often reluctant to pay plaintiffs the damages they are owed. It is highly likely that the first settlement offer you are presented with will not represent the true value of your case. Assistance from our team can be very helpful when negotiating for a fair settlement offer.
Still, even after thorough negotiations, there is a chance that an acceptable settlement offer will not be presented in your case. Accordingly, you may have to go to trial to recover the financial compensation you deserve. The risk being that if your case does not prevail, then you may receive no payment whatsoever.
Discuss Your Case with a Baltimore Car Accident Attorney
If you suffered injuries because of a car crash, get help from our experienced Rockville car accident lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras by calling (410) 694-7291 for a free case review.