Wheaton, MD Car Accident Lawyer
Victims of car accidents may face substantial injuries and disabilities after the crash. Fortunate victims may face only minor injuries or property damage alone, but victims of serious crashes may leave with permanent injuries that require ongoing medical care and expensive medical bills.
If you were injured, you do not need to go through your recovery alone. Our Wheaton, MD car accident lawyers may be able to help you get compensation for the injuries you faced and fight to get you additional payments for your pain and suffering and other damages. We can put our experience to work for you.
For a free review of your car accident case, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras today. We represent injury victims and their families in lawsuits to recover lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering for their injuries. Call our law offices today at (410) 694-7291.
How to Get Compensated for a Car Accident in Wheaton, MD
Car accident victims face damages from the cost of vehicle repairs in nearly every case. However, in more serious cases, you may face devastating consequences, such as severe physical injuries, missed work to cope with your injuries, serious pain and suffering, and other harms. In these cases, you may not be able to get full compensation for your injuries by filing your claim with an insurance company, and it may be best for you to file your claim with the courts.
When you take your case to court, you can claim any damages you faced as a consequence of the accident. In many cases, this means claiming the value of any medical care you faced, wages you missed because of the injuries, and pain and suffering you experienced. the medical bills can include both past and ongoing bills for imaging, surgeries, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, and other care. Lost wages can cover the cost of paychecks missed during your recovery as well as ongoing reductions in wages due to disabilities or injuries. Lastly, pain and suffering can include damages for the physical experience of pain as well as the mental and emotional experiences.
To seek these damages, you often have the choice between filing your claim in court and filing with the insurance company. An insurance claim is simpler in most cases, but you are typically limited in the damages you can receive. An insurance policy might not pay the full value of the injuries, as the policy is unlikely to cover damages for pain and suffering. This means that you may need to file your case in court to get the full compensation you deserve.
Should I Settle or Go to Court in My Wheaton, MD Car Accident Case?
The decision of whether to settle your case or go to court is complex. First, it is important to understand that this decision is yours to make: ethically speaking, your attorney cannot make this decision for you. Your Wheaton car accident lawyer can, however, provide you with legal advice using their experience and knowledge of the legal issues at hand.
Your case might be worth settling if the settlement offer on the table is adequate to cover your needs. There is usually no reason to take the case to court if the defense is offering you everything you need. If there is no settlement offer yet, your attorney can negotiate one and hopefully arrive at a value that covers your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If a fair settlement can be reached, settling may be ideal.
However, not every case works so smoothly. In many cases, the defense will offer low settlements that do not cover your needs. If negotiations cannot bring that settlement up to where it needs to be, there might be no way to settle the case. Then, going to trial might be necessary. You may also want to press the case at trial if there are other damages you will not get through settlement, such as punitive damages to punish the defendant for their actions.
Ultimately, you might not be able to win your case at trial if you have weak evidence. In those cases, accepting a settlement might be your only chance for compensation. Settlements might also be worth more than a potential trial if the cost of going to trial would be so expensive that you lose money compared to the settlement offer, even if the settlement offer is not perfect.
How Do I Prove Fault in a Wheaton, Maryland Car Crash?
Drivers, passengers, and others injured in a car crash must first prove that they were injured by another driver before the court will award damages. it is up to the jury in the case to listen to the evidence and arguments presented at trial and decide which driver or drivers were at fault for the crash. Only then can the court order the at-fault parties to pay the victims.
To prove fault, you typically must meet the burden of proof. Unlike the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard famously used in criminal cases, civil lawsuits for personal injuries use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means that you must prove that it is more likely than not that what you claimed is true – that the other driver was at fault for the crash.
For a court to find the other driver at fault, there must be something that they did wrong that warrants holding them accountable. In many cases, this mistake is a violation of traffic laws: speeding, drunk driving, drowsy driving, running a red light, or committing other traffic violations. If you can prove that the other driver illegally entered the intersection, struck you while speeding, failed to signal, or otherwise violated the law, you may be able to prove they were at fault.
If there were no explicit traffic laws violated, you can still argue that the other driver was at fault because of another mistake or error they made. For example, if a driver was going too fast for the road conditions but was still under the speed limit, they may still have been negligent. This is common in accidents on icy or wet roads.
The at-fault driver will likely try to defend against your claim by arguing that you were actually at fault instead of them. This can be a complete defense in Maryland since cases might be blocked if the court finds that the victim helped contribute to the accident. However, your lawyer can help present the case in a way that helps protect your claim and can argue that the other driver was solely at fault and must pay damages.
In many cases, evidence of what the driver said or did can help you prove fault. If the other driver admitted that the accident was their fault as part of an apology or admitted anything that helps your case, it is important to talk to your lawyer about those facts and statements.
What is the Burden of Proof in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
In any court case, there is a “burden of proof” that dictates the level of proof you need to win your case. the burden of proof is usually on the person who brings the case – the “plaintiff” in a car accident injury lawsuit. In Wheaton and throughout Maryland, the burden of proof for a car accident case is the “by a preponderance of the evidence” standard.
This complex legalese means that you have to prove that it is more likely than not that the accident happened how you claim it did. This is often described as a 51% goal or tipping the scales of justice slightly in your favor.
To meet this burden of proof, you have to produce evidence that helps prove your case. the judge might throw out certain pieces of evidence if they violate the Rules of Evidence, which could make it harder to prove your case. However, the Rules of Evidence work both ways, and your lawyer might be able to keep out evidence that would favor the defendant.
At the end of the case, the decision as to whether you met the burden of proof is usually one that the jury makes, not the judge. That means your Wheaton car accident lawyer’s goal will be to sway the jury in your favor with facts, evidence, and arguments.
What to Expect in a Car Accident Lawsuit in Wheaton, MD
In a car accident injury lawsuit in Wheaton, MD, you will undergo a somewhat lengthy process before getting the damages you deserve. In all likelihood, you should expect resistance from the defense attorney and the insurance company, and you should be prepared for two simultaneous processes: the court case and the settlement negotiations.
Pushback from Defense Attorneys and Insurance Companies
Insurance companies only make money by taking in more money than they pay out in damages. This gives them the incentive of denying claims and settling for low values. Often, the legal teams that work for them share this goal of winning cases to deny payouts to victims. This means that they will often take any legal measures to fight to block your case, throw out evidence, and deny that their driver did anything wrong.
You should not be surprised if the insurance company or the defense lawyers in your case make outrageous or offensive claims to try to counter your injury claims. it is often a strategy to blame the victim for their injuries or to claim that they are faking or exaggerating the harm they suffered. Out Wheaton car accident injury lawyers can help insulate you from some of this, but it is important to prepare to have your honesty challenged and your injuries downplayed by aggressive defense teams.
The Court Case
When you first file your claim with the court, your injury lawyer will file a “complaint” that details the accident and its cause. the other side will get time to respond, and both sides will file legal motions to work out legal issues at this stage of the case.
Once the case proceeds, both sides will begin sharing evidence in a stage called “discovery.” During discovery, lawyers will take depositions and subpoena evidence of what happened. This will help build a full picture of what happened, what evidence exists, and what can be proven in court. Further motions might be filed to block evidence or get access to additional evidence.
If the case is not settled by this point, the judge will often require mandatory settlement meetings. You may even attend mediation or other processes to try to settle the case without trial. If the case proceeds to trial, the trial itself will usually take a week or less to complete.
At the end of the trial, the jury will decide your case (unless the case is a bench trial heard by the judge alone). the jury’s decision will include a determination of who is at fault and how much they owe you in damages. If the jury decides that multiple drivers share fault, they can divide damages among them. If the jury decides you were partly at fault, damages will be denied entirely.
The settlement process often runs alongside the court process. If the case can settle, then the trial will be unnecessary and the case can end early.
Often, cases start with low-dollar settlement offers designed to shut down claims early. If the insurance company can settle the case for less than they would spend at trial, then they can get away with paying you whatever they want and avoid additional expenses. These offers are often too low to cover your needs, and you should deny them with the help of a Wheaton car accident attorney.
Many cases settle after the discovery stage. At this point, both sides know what evidence they have to work with and how strong their cases are. If the case cannot be settled at this stage, there may be last-minute “courthouse steps” settlement offers as the trial date nears. Always review settlement offers with your lawyer before accepting any money or agreeing to anything.
Call Our Wheaton, Maryland Car Accident Injury Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident in Wheaton or the surrounding areas in Maryland, you should speak with a lawyer about your options for seeking compensation. Many people are content filing insurance claims and only find out later in the process that the insurance claim does not offer enough money to cover their needs. For a free case review and for help understanding how to maximize the damages in your case, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras’s Wheaton car accident injury lawyers today at (410) 694-7291.