Unfortunately, car accidents are all too common on today’s busy roadways. Even with fewer drivers on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic-related closures, annual accident rates rose in 2020, as did the rates of accident-related injuries and deaths. the uncomfortable reality is this: if you have not already been involved in a car accident, chances are that your luck will change at some point in the future.
The best way to protect yourself physically and legally in the case of a car accident is to know some key tips and information ahead of time that you can use when it matters most. You can use these tips from immediately after the accident to dealing with insurance and hiring an attorney to represent your interests.
The Maryland car accident attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras have established a reputation of tireless, fearless advocacy on behalf of personal injury clients just like you. No matter how serious your injuries, you deserve competent, resourceful representation. To set up your free initial case assessment, call our offices at (410) 694-7291.
What to Do at the Scene of the Accident
While you may be filled with adrenaline and nerves immediately after the accident, bearing these key steps in mind can help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself physically in the moment as well as legally in the long run.
Protect the Scene
Protect the scene of the car accident. by activating your flashers and placing flares if you have them in your vehicle. You want to warn other drivers that there is an accident and to slow down as they approach. Don’t try and direct traffic, as this can be just as dangerous as the car accident and lead to further injury. This is particularly important if your accident takes place on a highway or other area where drivers are traveling at increased rates of speed and wouldn’t expect to encounter stopped vehicles. Do your best to move all vehicles to the shoulder of the road to allow for other vehicles to pass safely.
Call the Police
Even in minor accidents, a police report can prove invaluable when determining liability and recovering for your injuries and damages. Fully cooperate with the police but avoid admitting fault to the accident.
Check to See if there is Anyone Else that Was Involved and Possibly Hurt
You should then check to make sure that everybody involved in the accident is ok. As a driver in the United States, it is your civilian responsibility do so. If there are injuries to any of the parties involved, you should call 911 or medical assistance immediately and try to aid that person as best you can.
After ensuring that no one needs medical assistance, you should then call the local Maryland police. the police will file a report which is helpful for insurance companies and your Baltimore personal injury lawyer if you decide to contact one.
When and if the police arrive at the scene of the accident, they have the right to ask for valid proof of insurance. If you do not have liability insurance, your license can again be suspended. Even worse, if you are not in compliance with insurance regulations, you can eventually lose your license for driving an uninsured vehicle.
If the accident resulted in the death or injury of a person, and a police report is not filed, it must be reported to the Maryland Vehicle Administration within 15 days. If you fail to do so, your license can again be suspended.
Document the Scene of the Car Accident
Photographs are also helpful if there has been any damage. Insurance companies and attorneys will need these pictures if damage is alleged to properly assess the accident and amount of damage. In addition, photographs hold all drivers accountable. Documenting the incident ensures that another party involved does not skew what actually happened. These photos may also be used as evidence if you find yourself in a civil trial.
Take pictures of the accident scene, as well as all points on the road where there could be skid marks or contact, was made between vehicles. Also, make sure you take pictures of the damage to your vehicle. If you have any visible bruises, scars, or cuts, make sure you photograph them as well.
Gather Information from Everyone
Write down as much information as possible about the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. Make sure you get the driver and passengers names, license plate numbers for all vehicles, insurance information and the make and model of all vehicles involved. It’s also important to collect any Witnesses names and phone numbers at the scene of the accident. You can never have too much information and it is often easier to obtain at the scene of the car accident than after.
Maryland law requires that you exchange certain information after being involved in an accident. Such information includes: name, address and contact details, driver licenses, license plate numbers and auto insurance. You should get this information from all parties involved and witnesses if there are any.
You should always notify your auto insurance company when you have been involved in an accident. If you are injured in a car accident, you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney. If you do plan to contact and/or hire an attorney, it is helpful to keep copies of any medical expenses that were a result of the accident.
Take the Names and Contact Info of Any Witnesses
Witnesses are extremely helpful as having them leaves less to dispute about how the accident occurred and who caused it. With car accidents, there is always the potential that a driver may file a civil claim against another. Therefore, getting contact information from witnesses is important as they may be called to testify in a trial.
Seek Medical Attention
Although you may not feel pain immediately after a car accident, you should see a doctor immediately. Although you may feel fine now, symptoms can appear days and even weeks after the accident. it is safe and wise to seek a review by medical professional of any potential injuries you may have suffered in the accident.
Should You Move Your Car from the Scene of the Accident?
Ultimately, the most important thing to do after being involved in a car accident to ensure that you are safe. This may require you moving the car to the shoulder or some other place. This will not impact your ability to recover in court, even if it makes the police report a little bit more complicated.
You then should make sure that everyone involved is safe and out of danger. Once you have made sure that no one needs medical assistance, you should exchange personal information with all parties involved and witnesses.
You should also call the police so a police report can be filed. After all of this, you should call your insurance company and consider hiring an auto accident or personal injury attorney. Maryland law holds the driver who caused the accident liable for compensating injuries, damages and losses to other parties. If another driver was negligent, causing you injuries or losses, you may be entitled to significant monetary compensation.
Dealing with the Insurance Company After the Accident
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we see car accident injury victims make the same mistakes time and time again when dealing with insurance representatives. You should never attempt to communicate or negotiate with the other party’s insurance company on your own. Instead, you would be wise to have your Baltimore car accident attorney assist you throughout the process.
Contacting Your Insurance Company for the First Time
It is wise to contact your insurance company probably after a car accident. You have paid for the car insurance, why not use it to help you throughout the process after a car accident. You may also be entitled to PIP (personal injury protection) coverage, which can help get medical treatment started and pay for initial lost wages.
Use Caution in Discussing the Car Accident with the Other Party’s Insurance Representatives
Don’t talk to anyone about the accident other than your lawyer, your insurance company and the police. Don’t post information or photos about your accident on social media as this could be used against you down the road.
Take particular care when communicating with the insurance company of another party in the accident. the sole goal of insurance representatives is to minimize their potential liability. They may try to get you to admit some level of fault for the accident. They can use any statement you make about the accident against you in court if you decide to file a lawsuit.
In Maryland, a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit from a car accident may be limited in their recovery of damages if the other side can demonstrate that the plaintiff was at least partially responsible for the accident. If you accept any amount of fault for the accident, that can be used as evidence to limit your recovery. For this reason, it is not only acceptable but also prudent to simply allow your attorneys to handle all correspondence with insurance representatives on your behalf.
Be Wary of Early Settlement Offers
Be wary of any settlement offers from the other driver’s insurance company early in the process. You may be at a disadvantage if you accept an early settlement as it may not cover future medical bills and lost wages. Further, accepting a settlement offer means waiving any right to file a lawsuit over the accident in the future. You should never give up your rights without a thorough examination of your options, and our Columbia car accident attorneys can help you with that.
The other driver’s insurance company is looking to settle the claim quickly and at the lowest value possible. If they gave you a settlement offer that included everything you could win in court, they wouldn’t be doing their job correctly. For this reason, settlement offers that come soon after an accident represent merely a fraction of what you might stand to recover otherwise.
Remember, you can choose to negotiate and finalize a settlement agreement over your personal injury lawsuit even after it is filed. In fact, a settlement may be reached at any point prior to the judge’s final decision. While we understand how valuable immediate cash availability can be, particularly for someone dealing with the ramifications of a costly car accident, we urge you to speak with one of our car accident attorneys about all of your options. If you are concerned about your ability to afford legal representation over the course of the case without an insurance settlement, we can also explain our flexible fee structures that only kick in once you get paid.
Get a Property Damage Valuation
Regardless of personal injury issues, almost all car accidents result in damages to the actual vehicle. Make sure you provide your car insurance company’s evaluation of the damages that your car sustained to your attorney, so that you can ensure that the evaluation is fair in light of the circumstances.
Hiring an Attorney
Your most promising step to take after a car accident in Maryland is contacting a personal injury attorney. A diligent car accident attorney will assist you in gathering evidence such as police reports, medical bills, and insurance statements. Attorneys can examine settlement offers with insurance companies to make sure that you are getting exactly what you deserve. Most importantly, an attorney can present you with all of your legal options for recovery, and help you weigh the positives and negatives of a personal injury lawsuit. So, if and when you decide to take your case to the courthouse steps, a fully prepared and familiar attorney will walk in right beside you.
Contact Us for Immediate Legal Help After a Car Accident in Maryland
At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we know what fierce advocacy can mean for clients who suffer injuries in car accidents. We’re ready to go to work for you. For questions about our services or our flexible contingency fee structure, schedule your initial consultation for free by calling us at (410) 694-7291.