Going through the complicated and often confusing world of car accident claims is not something that most people expect to deal with. But those who have done it – and we attorneys who handle these types of claims every day – know-how arcane the whole thing can be.
In this guide, our Maryland car accident attorneys 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.
If you were injured in a car crash in Maryland and need helping to get compensation, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras today. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience helping car accident victims get the compensation they need. Call (410) 694-7291 to set up a free legal consultation.
How to File a Car Accident Claim in Maryland
This is what you do when you inform the at-fault party of your injuries and your intent to seek damages for them. it is important that you file as soon as possible after the accident, and we highly recommend that you contact an experienced 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.
Having done this, you will likely receive a reservation of rights letter. According to IRMI.com, 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 isn’t 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. It’s all part of the process.
How To Send a Demand Letter to the Insurance Agency
Following the first step, you will next send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance agency. This letter is basically what it sounds like: You’re writing to the insurance company to tell them how much compensation you require for your injuries. Many times, injured people will work with a personal injury attorney to determine just how much compensation should be sought.
Various things you should consider when writing a demand letter: 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 of these factors when laying out your demands.
After you send the letter, the claims adjuster will likely return with an initial offer. There’s 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’ll 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’s much lower than you wanted, or you can make a counter-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. It’s frustrating but it’s also normal.
When Should You Accept the Settlement Offer?
After negotiations, the insurance adjuster may make a final settlement offer. At this point you have two options: You can either accept the offer or else file a personal injury lawsuit. Note that you do not have to accept the insurance company’s settlement offer.
If you choose to file an injury lawsuit, it is advisable that you seek the help of a Baltimore car accident lawyer. Injury attorneys can help you navigate the complex and sometimes confusing world of lawsuits, and can work to help you recover the maximum amount of damages to which you are entitled.
What to Do Before Filing an Insurance Claim for a Maryland Car Accident
The first thing you should do after a Maryland car accident is getting the medical attention you need. If you were injured and need medical attention, you should get the injuries treated to start you on a path to recovering. Moreover, failing to get medical attention could make your injuries worse and make it harder to collect damages later. Getting medical attention also produces paperwork that proves when you were treated and what your injuries were – which is important evidence needed to prove your claim.
You should also speak with a lawyer for guidance on the rest of your case. Even if you will ultimately be making a claim with an insurance company – even your own insurance company – you should have a lawyer represent you. This can help you avoid saying anything that might be mistaken as an admission of guilt, and it can help prevent the insurance company from dismissing your case on technical grounds. Your lawyer can also advise you of what other steps to take before and during the filing process.
Evidence to Collect for a Car Accident Claim in Maryland
Insurance companies will require proof of your vehicle damage, injuries, and other damages. Typically, insurance companies will tell you what mechanics or appraisers to use to prove how much your vehicle damages are worth, but your lawyer might advise you to get a second opinion from someone else. the medical bills lost wages, and other damages you faced will also have some sort of paperwork that you can use to prove how much those damages cost.
Your attorney might also have ideas about what information to collect regarding how the accident happened and how to prove it. If witnesses saw the crash, getting statements from them could be vital in proving your case. Additionally, dash cams or security cameras that might have caught the accident on the tape could be used to help prove you were the victim in your case. Lastly, photos of the accident scene and the damage will need to be taken before things change too much. You will need to act quickly after an accident to collect all of this information, and you should do so with the help of an experienced Easton car accident attorney.
What to Do if an Insurance Claim Doesn’t Pay Enough in a Maryland Car Crash
Many people find themselves shorted by insurance offers. Insurance companies are supposed to pay damages for car accidents, but they are often reluctant to pay the full cost of an accident, and you may need to reject their offer. In some cases, this can be a negotiation tactic, and your attorney might be able to continue negotiating your case and, ultimately, get you the damages you need. However, your attorney might also recommend going to court, even after doing all the work of filing an insurance claim.
If the insurance claim does not cover your injuries, then you will not get the damages you need paid by continuing with the insurance claim. Until the point where you accept the payments and settle the claim, you have the chance to change your mind and pursue your case in a court of law instead – provided you file within all applicable deadlines.
When you file your claim in court, it may open access to additional damages that you might not get in an insurance claim, such as pain and suffering damages. However, it also requires you to pay filing fees and attorney’s fees. Typically, your attorney will work on a fee arrangement where you pay nothing until you win your case, and many court cases end with damages for legal fees being included in damages. However, it is important to review the costs and benefits of going to trial with an experienced lawyer who can help explain the pros and cons in your particular case.
Generally speaking, taking your case to trial is one of the strongest ways to fight your case. In a car accident lawsuit in Maryland, the judge and jury decide your case rather than a potentially biased car insurance company. They also decide how much your case is worth, and they can base that on any admissible information you provide. That could mean you get to use your own appraisal of the damages rather than the insurance company’s appraisal.
Claiming Pain and Suffering Damages in Maryland Car Accident Cases
One of the main reasons car accident cases go to court is because of the pain and suffering involved. Insurance claims often pay low damages or no damages for pain and suffering, but these damages could be one of the biggest areas of damages in your case. Speak with a Towson car accident lawyer about whether pain and suffering damages are worth taking your claim to court.
Can You Appeal Insurance Claims in Maryland?
If your insurance company is not negotiating and has either rejected your claim or refused to offer sufficient damages, you could try appealing your insurance claim. Insurance companies have their own processes for appealing the claim, which may involve review by a different adjuster or a fresh look at additional information provided to them.
If the insurance company sees that you are serious and that you have a lawyer helping you appeal your claim, that could be sufficient pressure to push them into paying your claim at the proper amount. However, this is not always the case.
Sometimes, the insurance company has no intention of paying you damages, and they are in fact acting in bad faith. Bad faith insurance claims can be filed against insurance companies that deny claims without reason, cancel policies in the middle of a claim, or otherwise take unjust steps to deny your claim. If you have faced this kind of denial, talk to an attorney about suing the insurance company to have them pay your claim.
Call Our Maryland Car Accident Lawyers Today
If you’re having trouble recovering your full amount of damages from an insurance company, consider calling Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291. Randolph Rice has years of experience helping clients fight the insurance companies, and he knows how to work for you to ensure that you get the compensation to which you are entitled.