Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

You’ve met your client, executed your fee agreement, gathered your facts and put your file together. Is it time to consider a settlement? It depends on the case.

Be Clear on Notice and Filing Deadlines

when can i settle personal injury case

When can I settle my client’s personal injury case?

First and foremost, check the statute of limitations.  If you have a statute problem, all bets are offer. If you have less than six months, file suit.

You can always serve the defendant, send a copy to the claims representative with whom you’ve been dealing, and agree to take no further action during a fixed time period, during which it is understood that settlement negotiations will be addressed. Also, be sure early on, when opening your file, whether there are any statutory notice provisions with which you must comply pre-suit.  Sometimes they are obvious — clearly county-owned vehicle — and sometimes you are never going to be able to know unless you file suit and get defendant’s discovery responses. 

You can always serve the defendant, send a copy to the claims representative, and agree to take no further action during a fixed time period, during which it is understood that settlement negotiations will be addressed. Also, be sure early on, when opening your file, whether there are any statutory notice provisions with which you must comply pre-suit. Claims against state and local governments typically have provisions such as these, which require specific notice to be given to designated officials.  If you are an inexperienced lawyer or a pro se plaintiff, read that last sentence carefully.  Because “Oh, come on, I’m sure it got to the right person” is not going to fly.

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When should you retain an expert in a personal injury accident case?  The short answer is early, usually earlier than you think.Experts recommend

This is never a problem in medical malpractice cases, because it is well understood that medical malpractice claims are predicated on expert  testimony, to even bring forth a claim in the first place.  But lawyers — both Plaintiffs’ lawyers and defense attorneys —  typically wait too long.

How do you know whether or not you need an expert?  Investigate.  Early.  Do you have a problem with speed, with drinking, with highway design, or with a “dangerous condition?” You will not know if you have any of these problems, without investigating your claims properly.

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I’m don’t use this blog much for safety tips.  Not because they are not important but because you can get that information elsewhere. But withGuy and rear-view mirror Labor Day weekend coming upon us, I have to drive to the Eastern Shore so I’d like to be safe. And I get to feel unbelievably superior when I write these things.   So let’s talk about using car mirrors properly, because it seems like few people know how to use them and fewer understand their limitation. Please read this in a condescending, know-it-all tone.

Mirrors are one of the most vital parts on an automobile.  Too many drivers on Maryland roads today, view mirrors as important as getting a NFL Red Zone is to the “Kinky Boots” musical cast playing at the Hippodrome later this month. They are jerking their heads around, like a madman before every aggressive, unsafe lane change they make.  

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Let me start off by saying I’m generally skeptical of the benefits of an accident reconstructionist as an expert witness in most car accident cases.shutterstock_252879895

Why?  Generally, I think in most liability dispute cases, jurors feel like they have all the information to make the call.  Jurors think they understand basis physics and who is telling the truth and generally don’t look for help from an accident reconstructionist.  We had a young lawyer trying his first case against a big law firm in a liability dispute case.  The defendants hired one of the best accident reconstructionists in Maryland.  Our client barely spoke English.  We did not bring an expert.  But we won, because the jury heard the facts and believed our client.

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What boggles peoples minds is the fact that a large number of Maryland car accidents that lead to death and disability settle for $100,000 or less.  Some settle for $30,000 in case where the liability is clear or even if the defendant was drunk out of his mind.

How to get more than the auto insurance policy limits?

How to get more than the auto insurance policy limits

How does this happen?  In many cases, the key to recovery is finding insurance.  You have to know where to look and you have to know how to look.  But sometimes there is nothing there even when you look in the right places.

Okay…so how can this happen?  Maryland requires that each licensed vehicle be covered by auto insurance of some kind.  But the  minimum auto liability insurance required is quite low in relation to the [30] potential that a vehicle will inflict harm. Consequently, a driver may be hit by another car that has as little as $30,000 in maximum liability coverage ($15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident). The non-negligent driver may have been severely injured by another driver who has few personal assets, in which case, even prompt payment of the negligent driver’s $30,000 in liability insurance will do little to compensate the severely injured non-negligent driver. As a result, every driver is constantly at risk of being severely injured by another, largely impecunious driver with low policy limits.

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insuranceOur main office is now in downtown Baltimore.  I love it here.  I really do.  But driving in Baltimore can be a pain. The daily commute usually involves at least one narrowly escaped crash, jaywalkers deciding to cross right as your light turns green, and the Circulator cutting you off a few times. It’s the price of doing business downtown.

Baltimore’s drivers aren’t the best, but they’re definitely not the worst. That’s because they’re only the second-worst. In 2013, Allstate rated Baltimore’s drivers 193rd out of 194 different cities in the US. D.C. was the only city that fared worse.  There is a reason Baltimore car accident lawyers keep pretty busy.  While this reality makes our drives a bit more perilous every day, it affects city residents’ wallets in a huge way.

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handsfreeMaryland has banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving. Obviously, this includes texting but it also applies to holding a cell phone up to your ear while you talk.

I’m glad we have this law.  It makes sense that you have both hands to drive and react to emergencies.  Right?  It does not take a Rhodes Scholar to figure this out.

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Serious auto accident cases have been a central focus of our law firm since we opened our doors 13 years ago.  We have earned our clients over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in motor vehicle accident cases.  We believe this blog and our website does more than anything else on line to educate victims about their rights and let them better understand the opportunities they have for compensation… and how to get it.

What to Do After a Car Accidentaccident 4

Depending on the severity of the accident, the first thing that you should do is seek medical treatment for anyone who needs it. Granted, if it is a fender bender, EMS might not be necessary. At an accident scene, be vigilant of all the details. Make sure you know who your witnesses are, the amount and severity of the damage to the involved vehicles. Also, know the circumstances including the conditions, the precise location, and even the positions of the vehicles. This can only help you in the long run. Remember what they told you in kindergarten: silence is golden. Try to say as little as possible at the accident scene.  You do not need to prove your case to the police officers or anyone else at the scene of the accident. Do not estimate speeds, predict who was at fault, or speculate about the accident and the evidence.  Instead, seek medical treatment if you need it, then contact a lawyer when your claim is fresh in your mind and accident reconstruction evidence can be accumulated if necessary. Continue reading

settlement3Valuing car accident cases for settlement in Maryland is a challenge. The most important thing in any case is the severity of the injuries. That is probably all that should matter.  But there are many more variables that drive how much money the insurance company will offer to settle an injury claim before a lawsuit is filed.  This is a list of 12 factors that really matter in determining the settlement value of any auto collision injury claim:

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elderlysigningBecoming the victim of an auto accident can have a profound effect on your life. Even though an accident can happen in the span of a few seconds, it can result in death or injuries and hardships that last months, years, or a lifetime. With that in mind, victims of auto accidents should seek an attorney to ensure that they are compensated for their injuries and/or losses. However, not every attorney is qualified to handle every case. Clients should ensure that they receive the representation that they deserve.   Here are five things to consider when hiring a Maryland car accident attorney:

History of Results

Car accident claims are about money.   That’s it.  The car accident lawyer’s goal has to be to maximize the amount of money the client can put in their pocket.   There is no reason to run from this.  Our civil justice system is based on the payment of money compensation to balance out the harm that was caused.  The point is that you want a law firm that has the goal of getting you as much money as possible and has a history of doing it for their clients.  So when dealing with an accident claim, why jeopardize your potential recovery by placing it in the hands of an attorney (or law firm) without a proven track-record of obtaining money for clients?  Really, it is like putting a high school kid in center field for the Baltimore Orioles.  While skill obviously matters when looking for a lawyer, anyone with a potential auto accident claim must seek the help of an attorney who can turn that skill into results for their client.

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