The Maryland auto accident lawyers at Miller & Zois have a long track record of success in auto tort cases. Over the years we have recovered millions on behalf of clients injured in car accidents or truck accidents. My firm takes cases to trial. This leads to bigger results for our clients in those cases.
But there is one other thing you have to understand. My firm’s history of trying cases against these car insurance companies increases the settlement value of our accident cases. Why? Because there is not a single insurance company in Maryland that does not know Miller & Zois is coming for them.
If you are physically injured in car accident you are legally entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. Hiring the best auto accident lawyer that you will help you get the maximum amount of compensation for your accident.
Why My Law Firm Is Different
Many auto accident firms operate like “settlement mills” – their primary goal is to settle your case out-of-court as quickly and efficiently as possible. Conversely, you also see small law firms that do not have the experience or bona fides with the insurance companies to get top dollar for car crash claims.
At Miller & Zois, we focus on getting every last penny for each auto accident case. If that means going to court, that means going to court. Again, our willingness to litigate auto tort cases is well known to the major auto insurance carriers and their claims adjusters. This reputation gives us tremendous leverage that we can use to negotiate a full value settlement of your case.
Maryland Auto Accident Law
If you want to understand the foundation of the accident lawsuits we bring, you want to read this section. (Otherwise, skip it.)
In Maryland, auto accident cases are governed by 2 separate bodies of law: (1) traffic and motor vehicle laws; and (2) the law of negligence (tort law). The application of these 2 related sets of law is how we determine who was “at-fault” for an auto accident and how much compensation they should be required to pay.
- Traffic Law: in Maryland (and most other states) the various rules and regulations regarding the operation of motor vehicles on road are codified and set forth in the Transportation Article of the Maryland Code. These “rules of the road” set forth all of the detailed rules regarding turning, stopping, yielding, signaling, etc. The application of these rules is used to determine who is “at-fault” when an auto accident occurs.
- Tort Law: tort law is a collection of civil laws that holds people financially responsible when their actions cause injuries to others. In the context of auto accidents, tort law governs financial liability for an accident. When a driver is found to be “at-fault” in an auto accident they have committed the tort of negligence and they can be legally forced to pay for the damages caused by their negligent driving.
Car Accident Claims and Lawsuits
Anyone who is physically injured in an auto accident is entitled to obtain financial compensation (money) from the driver who is at-fault for the accident. If the at-fault driver has auto insurance (as required by Maryland law), then their insurance company is the one that actually pays any financial compensation. The process of getting paid for injuries suffered in a car accident begins with the submission of a “claim” to the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.
A “claim” in an auto accident case is a formal demand for voluntary payment of compensation. The claim essentially notifies the insurance company that you were injured by their insured driver and asks that insurer to accept responsibility and agree to pay compensation without going to court. Once a claim is received, the insurance company will conduct an initial accident investigation to determine if their insured was at fault. This typically consists of taking a formal statement from their insured and reviewing any additional evidence such as witness statements, pictures, skid marks, and vehicle damage.
If the initial investigation concludes that their insured driver was responsible for the accident, the insurance company will then attempt to settle your claim out of court. The insurance company will make a settlement offer based on their evaluation of your alleged injuries. Insurance companies ALWAYS seek to settle claims for less than the amount that you would be legally entitled to in court.
If the settlement offer from the insurance carrier is too low, you can reject it and elect to sue the at-fault driver for negligence in a civil court. If the case goes all the way to trial, it means that a judge or jury will end up deciding how much financial compensation you should receive.
Damages in Auto Tort Cases
When another driver is “at-fault” for a car accident, they have committed the tort of negligence and their financial responsibility for the accident is governed by Maryland tort law. Under Maryland law, tortfeasors can be held liable for all “reasonably foreseeable” damages caused by the accident. Allowable damages in a Maryland auto tort case include:
- Property Damage: property damages in an auto accident case include the cost of repairing or replacing any physical property damage to the plaintiff’s vehicle.
- Lost Income: plaintiffs in auto accident cases are entitled to receive compensation for any lost wages or lost income that they suffered as a direct and proximate result of the injuries sustained in the car accident. This includes both past and future lost income.
- Medical Expenses: auto accident plaintiffs are legally entitled to full compensation for any past or future medical expenses related to injuries suffered in the accident. Medical expenses are often one of the biggest components of a damage award in an auto tort case. Maryland applies the “collateral source” rule, which means the plaintiff can get compensation for medical expenses even if their insurance company was the one who really paid for them.
- Pain & Suffering: under Maryland law, auto tort plaintiffs can be awarded money to compensate them for any mental pain, suffering, and humiliation caused by the physical injuries they sustain in the auto accident. The amount of pain and suffering damages depends on the nature and circumstances of the injuries.
Common Injuries in Car Accidents
The impact force of a car accident can result in just about any type of physical injury to the driver or occupants of the car. Car accident injuries can range from minor bruises to fatal head trauma and almost anything in between. That being said, there are certain areas of the body (e.g., the back, neck, and shoulders) that are particularly vulnerable to injury in an auto accident. As a result, there are certain injuries that are commonly associated with car accidents.
- Back & Neck Injuries: the spine (which includes both the back and neck) is the part of the body that is most commonly injured in a car accident. The spine is composed of individual vertebrae bones connected by soft tissue and separated by discs that function as cushions between the bones. The sitting position of drivers and occupants in a car makes the spine very susceptible to injury from an auto collision. Common spine injuries in car accidents include herniated discs, whiplash, and spinal fractures.
- Shoulder Injuries: injuries to the shoulder are the second most common type of car accident injury. The shoulder is a complex part of the body where the arm bone fits into the shoulder socket and is held in place a dense collection of ligaments, muscles, and nerves. The sitting position of drivers and passengers in a car makes the shoulder very vulnerable to injury in an auto collision. The most common types of shoulder injuries in car accidents include torn rotator cuff and seat belt injuries.
- Head Injuries: head and/or brain injuries are the most serious type of common car accident injuries. Injury to the head or brain can occur in a car accident even when the head itself is not impacted. The sudden forceful whipping motion of the head in a car accident can cause major internal damage as the brain bounces around inside the head and slams into the cranium. This type of damage is called a coup-contrecoup injury.
Recent Auto Accident Settlements and Verdicts
The settlement value of a car accident case depends on many factors. The most obvious factor impacting the value of a car accident case is the nature and severity of the physical injuries caused by the accident. Serious or permanent injuries will make a case much more valuable.
Another less obvious factor that affects case value is the amount of insurance coverage available. The limits of applicable insurance coverage will often cap the potential settlement value of an auto case. Below are some very recent verdicts and reported settlements from Maryland car accident cases.
- 2019 Baltimore City $150,000: The defendant driver backs up her vehicle without looking and hits the plaintiff pedestrian. The plaintiff suffers a chondral fracture of her right knee requiring surgery with $13,000 in past medical expenses. The defendant refused to admit liability and took the case to trial where a jury in Baltimore City awarded $150,000.
- 2019 Anne Arundel $45,000: The plaintiffs were passengers in a vehicle going southbound on Gov. Ritchie Highway near Mountain Road in Glen Burnie. As they proceeded through an intersection on a green light defendant, traveling in the opposite direction, ran a red light and hit them. The plaintiffs sustained various soft tissue neck and back injuries in the accident. The case went to trial on damages and the jury awarded a total of $45,000.
- 2018 Baltimore County $209,450: Plaintiff was driving south on Lynch Road near Dundalk when the defendant made a right-hand turn directly in front of the plaintiff causing a collision. The plaintiff suffered unspecified injuries to her neck and back. The case went to trial in Baltimore County on the issue of damages and causation. The jury awarded $209,450 in damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost income.
- 2017 Baltimore City $171,000: As the plaintiff was passing through an intersection in west Baltimore defendant ran a stop sign and t-boned him. The plaintiff suffered a blunt head injury resulting in chronic headaches and PTSD. Liability was admitted, But the lawsuit went to trial on damages and the jury awarded $171,000 in damages.
- 2016 Prince George’s County $45,000: 43-year-old male plaintiff was driving on Route 5 and Earnshaw Drive in Brandywine. The defendant attempted to change lanes and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff suffered a lumbar disc herniation and disc protrusion with radiculitis at the L4-L5 nerve root. Treatment included 4 months of physical therapy and 3 epidural injections. Damages were disputed. But the defendant agreed to settle for $45k.