If you suffered from injuries after being involved in a car accident in Washington County, MD with another driver and the accident was not your fault, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver that was responsible. Through this lawsuit you can recover compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income and potential future earnings, and more.
To have a successful case, you will need the help of an experienced car accident lawyer. The Washington County car accident lawyers from Rice, Murtha & Psoras are available to help you with your case today. Call (410) 694-7291 to learn about their legal services for victims of car accidents in Washington County, MD. Consultations are free. Call today.
Damages You Can Get for a Car Accident Lawsuit in Washington County, MD
While the damages that a plaintiff can recover depends on the details of their case, there are certain types of damages that are more common than others. Note that calculating the damages that you’ll receive can be complicated. In some cases, it’s simple. If you have already recovered from your injury, you can simply total your expenses and present them in court. Other cases will be more complicated if you are still receiving medical treatment and expect to continue to receive treatment far into the future. A lawyer will be able to help you calculate the cost of your damages regardless of the circumstances of your case.
The following are damages that you can recover in your personal injury case following a car accident in Washington County, MD.
Lost Wages and Diminished Earning Potential
We are capable of helping our clients recover both past and future lost wages. If your injury has kept you from being able to go to work while to focus on recovering, we can recover your unearned income. If you will need more time to recover in the future or if your injury was severe enough to keep you from working for the remainder of your life, you can recover your potential future earnings.
These damages can be essential for people whose injuries caused permanent or temporary disabilities that will make it harder for them to support themselves. If your accident left you paralyzed, if you lost a limb, or if you suffered serious back or neck injuries that now leave you with physical limitations, these damages could be one of the most important parts of your injury case.
Nearly all of a car accident victim’s medical expenses following their injury—whether they are from surgeries, stays in the hospital, physical therapy, medical equipment, or medications—can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit. It’s important for victims to keep receipts and documentation of all of their medical treatment as they receive it.
Often, medical costs can be very expensive and make up one of the greatest areas of damages in your case. Insurance companies may offer to pay for some of these damages, but the amount they pay might not compensate you in full for these expenses, and you may need to go to court to get full compensation.
Victims of car accidents can be compensated for the noneconomic damages they suffer as a result of their injuries. Compensation for things such as loss of enjoyment of life, potentially shortened lifespan, mental and emotional anguish, and pain and suffering can be awarded to victims of car accidents.
These damages are very closely linked to your personal experience, and they are often very different for every victim. Your attorney may recommend documenting your recovery by keeping a journal of your pain so that you can more readily explain to the jury the particular effects you faced.
These damages are often excluded from insurance payouts and can only be claimed in court or through a negotiated settlement.
If the driver that caused your injuries displayed “actual malice,” you may be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are rare, however, and are only awarded in extreme cases.
These damages are more likely in car accident cases involving transportation companies. If you were involved in an accident with a commercial driver, like a truck driver or bus driver, there may be room to hold the company that hired them liable for punitive damages. Forcing drivers to drive beyond their limits can often put everyone on the road at risk, and many companies make a habit of these kinds of repeat issues. Punitive damages are often used to punish this kind of bad activity.
Contributory Negligence for Car Accidents in Washington County, MD
It’s important to understand Maryland’s system of contributory negligence as you move forward with your case. Under the system of contributory negligence, the court assesses the degree of fault of both the defendant and the plaintiff and then assigns a percentage of fault to each. If the court determines that your percentage of fault is one percent or more, you will not be able to receive compensation.
Only a few states use this system, and Maryland is one of them. Other states use a system of comparative negligence. Under this system, the court assigns a percentage of fault to both the plaintiff and defendant and then reduces the plaintiff’s compensation by their percentage of fault.
Proving Fault in a Washington County Car Accident
To win a lawsuit following a car accident in Washington County, MD, you and your legal representation will have to show that the other person or entity acted negligently. Doing so has four components. The first is showing that the other driver had a duty of care based on your relationship (in a car accident case, your relationship is based on being drivers on the same road). The second is showing that the other driver breached their duty by doing something—or failing to something—dangerous. The third is showing that you suffered injuries as a direct result of the other driver’s breach of duty. The fourth is showing that your injuries caused you to suffer economic damages that you can be compensated for.
Depending on how the car accident happened, proving negligence could look very different. When two drivers share the road, Maryland’s traffic code provides a lot of the basic duties the drivers owe each other. Drivers are required by law to follow speed limits, stop at red lights, avoid drunk driving, and more. These laws are designed to keep other drivers safe, so when a driver fails to follow any of these traffic laws, they can be deemed in breach of their legal duty. Any accidents resulting from a traffic violation can therefore form the basis of a car accident lawsuit.
Alternatively, there are other duties that we owe each other on the road that might not be explicitly listed in the traffic code. These standard safe-driving practices are the kinds of things every reasonable driver does behind the wheel, such as keeping your eyes on the road, keeping your hands on the wheel, positioning your seat so you can see over the steering wheel, and avoiding risky situations. Violating these safe-driving rules can also constitute a breach of duty if the driver’s actions behind the wheel could be considered “unreasonable” compared to the standard of a reasonably prudent driver.
As mentioned, courts can assign partial blame to multiple parties. If you were involved in a multi-car accident, the court can actually assign partial blame to each driver who hit you, and they can divide damages among themselves. As we also discussed above, Maryland uses a “contributory negligence system” so that if you are found partly at fault, it will actually block you from holding anyone else accountable for the accident.
In Washington County car accident lawsuits, you must provide evidence to prove fault and how it is assigned. The main evidence you supply will be your testimony as to what happened. You can testify at trial and tell the jury what you saw, what the other driver(s) did, and how the accident happened. Photos from the scene of the crash will help fill in the details, show the damage each vehicle suffered, and show the relative positions of the cars, helping to support your story. If you have video of the crash from a dash cam, traffic cam, or security cam, that can be even better evidence of what happened.
You also have to supply proof of the damages you suffered in order to get them compensated. Proving damages is one of the four core elements of your case, so if you do not have evidence of harm, you cannot actually prove fault in your case. The court will often accept medical records, hospital bills, pay stubs, and other financial records as proof of economic damages. To prove noneconomic damages, again, your testimony will be essential. You can tell the jury in your own words about how much pain and suffering you experienced because of your injuries.
Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents in Washington County, MD
Maryland has a statute of limitations for filing lawsuits, so it is imperative that you act quickly. Maryland’s statute of limitations last three years, beginning on the date of your injury (if symptoms of your injury didn’t emerge until later, the statute of limitations begin on the date that you discovered them.)
There are other benefits to acting quickly to file your lawsuit. The chances that your witnesses will recall the accident with vivid detail will be greater if you file as close to the date of the accident as possible. Other evidence that you can use in your case will stand less of a chance of expiring or becoming lost if only a small amount of time passes after your accident. Most importantly, filing the lawsuit sooner means you can receive compensation sooner.
Should I Settle a Car Accident Case in Washington County?
If you were involved in a car accident in Washington County, you might think that filing an insurance claim or settling your case out of court with the at-fault driver will be sufficient to get you the damages you need. In some car accident cases involving property damage alone, that might be accurate, but any time your car accident case involves injuries, you might need to take your case to court to get the compensation you deserve.
Insurance companies often pay only a percentage of the damages you suffered rather than the full amounts. Insurance companies also refuse to pay noneconomic damages in most cases, so your insurance payout would automatically exclude damages for pain and suffering and other noneconomic damages.
It is vital to work with a lawyer regardless of how you approach your case. Whether you will be filing with insurance or taking your case to court, an attorney can help advise you on the best path to compensation and represent your interests throughout your case. It is also absolutely vital to have an attorney put a value on your case so you have a better idea of what your claim should be worth. In many settlements, the amount you receive will be lower than the amount you claim, but it is difficult to know whether the settlement is too low or whether it is acceptable without having a lawyer review your case. Our Washington County car accident lawyers can help.
Car Accident Lawyer Serving Washington County, MD
Do not allow the injuries that you suffered during a car accident to impact your ability to live your life. File a personal injury lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve. The Washington County, MD car accident lawyers from Rice, Murtha & Psoras are waiting to help you with your case. Call (410) 694-7291 to learn more about the next steps you can take.