Lochearn, MD Car Accident Lawyer

Car crashes that involve serious injuries can be a huge interruption in your life.  In fact, many car accidents permanently alter your quality of life, keep you from returning to work at full capacity, and create long-term health problems and medical bills that just keep piling up.

If you were injured in a crash through no fault of your own, our attorneys can help you get compensation for your injuries.  In car accidents involving property damage alone, insurance might be enough – but when injuries are involved, car insurance often falls short of covering you in full.  In many cases, a lawsuit will be needed to get your injuries compensated at a fair value.

For a free review of your car accident claim, call the car accident lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.

How Faut is Determined in Lochearn, MD Car Accident Claims

The issue of fault is central to any car accident case.  The driver who caused the accident is at fault, and courts can order them to pay for the damages they owe.  Additionally, insurance in Maryland “follows the fault,” not the driver, with the at-fault driver being the one to pay the majority of the damages.  Some medical bills and other damages do “follow the driver” and might be paid as first-party benefits from your PIP policy, but we will need to establish the other driver’s fault to get your injuries paid in full.

Elements of Fault in a Car Accident

Car accident claims are based on a cause of action called “negligence.”  This is the same type of case you file for other accidents, and it deals primarily with accusations that someone made a mistake or failed to take the proper care to act safely rather than alleging that they caused the accident on purpose.

In a car accident negligence case, you have to allege and ultimately prove that the at-fault driver broke a law or violated other safe-driving principles – that what they did was “unreasonable.”  You must also prove that what they did actually caused the crash and that you suffered damages, such as injuries and expenses.

Common Examples of Negligence

Negligence often comes down to simple traffic violations that cause car crashes.  For example, a driver running a red light and crashing into you would be a violation, and our car accident lawyers could use that violation as grounds for your car accident case.  Other common violations include speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, tailgating, and failing to yield or stop at a sign or light.

Contributory Negligence

Maryland is one of the few states that use contributory negligence rules.  Most states will assign partial blame to anyone involved, including the plaintiff.  In those states, you could end up being, for example, 20% at fault for your own injuries, meaning the defendant would pay only for the 80% of damages – the portion that was their fault.

In Maryland, any share of fault on the victim’s part will actually cut off damages.  If you were injured through no fault of your own, then this should not be an issue in your case.  However, defense lawyers often like to use this as a defense by accusing you of partial fault.

For partial fault to be “contributory negligence” that makes you lose your case, what you did must have actually been a violation or other “unreasonable” act, and it must have actually contributed to causing the accident.  For example, if you changed lanes without signaling a mile before the accident, that would be a violation but would not have contributed to the accident that happened a mile down the road.  Contrast this with driving 10mph over the speed limit, which might have been a partial factor in causing the crash.

Additionally, there are some legal principles that affect how contributory negligence is viewed.  First, if the defendant had the “last clear chance” to avoid the crash but failed to, that might override any potential fault you supplied.  Another principle is that reckless actions often outweigh mere negligence, so if they did something they were aware was dangerous and you only made a mistake by accident, it is possible their reckless behavior would still make them 100% at fault, legally speaking.

Fault in Court vs. Fault in Insurance Claims

If your policy has PIP or other first-party benefits, you can usually claim these benefits without having to prove who was at fault.  You pay for these benefits so that payments are there when you need them, and your insurance company pays you partial damages after you pay a deductible.  However, these benefits only cover so much.

To get the rest of the damages you need, you either need to file a claim with the defendant’s insurance or sue them in court, or both.  In insurance claims, it is up to the insurance provider to determine who was at fault.  However, convincing them their driver was responsible might be an uphill battle.  In court, you have to convince a jury collected from neutral people in your community or the judge in the case of a bench trial.  In court, the neutral judge and jury are often more likely to be convinced than a biased insurance company that has to pay money if they decide they lose.

Damages for Injury Victims in Lochearn, MD Car Accidents

As mentioned, some damages will be paid by your own PIP benefits.  These often pay for a share of the medical bills and lost wages you faced, but no more than that.

In a lawsuit or insurance claim against the at-fault driver or their insurance policy, you will be able to claim any and all damages that they caused you.  This primarily includes the full value of your medical bills and other medical care costs, as well as lost wages.  However, you can also claim compensation for pain and suffering and other intangible or “non-economic” losses you suffered.

In addition, you may be entitled to “loss of consortium damages” for a spouse’s injury as well as any and all expenses paid because of the crash, such as childcare costs, alternative transportation costs, and vehicle repair bills.

Call Our Lochearn, MD Car Accident Lawyers Today

For help with your potential case, call the car accident lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.