What can an accident lawyer baltimore do for me in an automobile accident case?
1) Collect all of the necessary data
Contact an accident lawyer baltimore immediately—even before you contact an insurance company– if you are injured in an automobile accident and feel that you are not at fault. Once you contact an accident lawyer baltimore, he/she will take an interview from you to determine the full extent of the injury that you have received as a result of an accident and also to determine who is at fault in a particular accident. My office does not charge a fee for the consultation that assesses these two issues.
2) Find a qualified doctor
Initially, if you have been injured and have not received medical treatment, an accident lawyer baltimore can help you find the appropriate medical care. Often, specialists like orthopedic surgeons or neurologists have long waiting lists that cause patients to wait months before receiving care. An accident lawyer baltimore can help greatly with this lag time, as they are frequently able to get specialist appointments for their clients in a relatively short period of time, allowing for adequate medical treatment in a much timelier manner.
Individuals who are injured in automobile accidents often find, however, that doctors do not like to get involved in litigation because they do not like going to court. In order to prove to an insurance company and/or a jury that you were in fact injured, a doctor must provide detailed reports connecting the injuries to the accident. A lot of physicians refuse to dictate reports deemed acceptable by the insurance companies, thus it is important to select a doctor who is at least willing to dictate a report after each visit. Each document provided by the medical facility is extremely important in your automobile accident case, as insurance companies base the amount of money that they are willing to offer you upon the documentation available. Visiting a family physician who is unwilling to write a dictated medical report or who scribbles an illegible note on his office chart may result in a smaller settlement than would come from consulting a doctor who is willing to write a fully dictated report clearly outlining the injuries and necessary treatment. Therefore, how well the doctor documents your injuries can be extremely important, as inadequate documentation can lead to less money for the same injury.
3) Help Collect PIP benefits
A lot of insurance policies have coverage called personal injury protection coverage (PIP), which provides coverage for medical expenses and lost wages up to $2,500.00 or more. This amount is paid no matter who is at fault. If you collect under this particular portion of your policy, your insurance company cannot cancel you or raise your rates. If it is later determined that the other person is at fault, the money you’ve collected is not reimbursed to the insurance company but instead becomes additional money you can use to pay your medical expenses, so that you do not have to later pay for them out of your settlement.
PIP is paid by the insurance company which covers the vehicle that you were in at the time of the accident or if you were a pedestrian, the vehicle that may have struck you. If your medical expenses or lost wages exceeds $2,500.00, PIP will not pay anything over the $2,500.00 limit. PIP is typically paid directly to the medical provider, so that if the medical expenses exceed $2,500.00 and are paid to the doctor, then there will be no PIP benefits available for lost wages. An accident lawyer baltimore can help you collect PIP benefits.
4) What is a PIP waiver?
A PIP waiver means you cannot collect PIP benefits and occurs in several ways. When the owner of the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident does not purchase PIP coverage from his insurance company, then PIP is waived for the owner of the vehicle as well as anyone who lives with the owner at the time of the accident and is a relative of the owner and over the age of 15. A PIP waiver can apply even though the vehicle you were in has PIP coverage if you live in a household where anyone in that household that you are related to has a vehicle and has waived PIP coverage, then it is waived for anyone in the household when they are involved in an accident even though that vehicle was not involved in the accident. For instance, if you are involved in an accident in your friends vehicle that has PIP coverage, but you own a vehicle and you have waived PIP under that particular policy or if you live with your parents and they have waived PIP coverage under their policy, then you would not be able to make a PIP claim under the policy for the vehicle involved in the accident, even though that vehicle had PIP coverage. Anyone else who was in the vehicle at the time of the accident who had not waived PIP coverage anywhere else would be able to make a claim for PIP.An accident lawyer baltimore can help you avoid the pip waiver or demand proof that it applies in your situation.
5) Fix your car and obtain a rental car quickly
Your accident lawyer baltimore will also report your claim to the individual-at-fault’s insurance company. If the at-fault party admits fault from the very beginning, your attorney can then make arrangements for your car to be looked at by the other insurance company and for them to provide a rental vehicle. If the other party disputes the liability in the case, however, your accident lawyer baltimore can provide the necessary information to convince the insurance company that their insured was at fault and that you were negligence free. Often insurance companies will offer to pay directly for a rental car so that no out of pocket money has to be laid out by the injured party for a rental. Your attorney can be instrumental in minimizing inconvenience to you by getting the insurance company to act in a timely manner to get you a rental car and/or car repairs as quickly as possible. Your accident lawyer baltimore will be familiar with reputable body shops that can repair your car with competence and care.
If the accident was not your fault, then you may get your vehicle repairs paid for either by the insurance company for the person who caused the particular accident or you may be able to get the vehicle repairs paid for under your own insurance policy. If the person, who caused the accident, admits fault quickly then it is always best to get the vehicle fixed under their insurance policy. Once the vehicle is in the shop to be repaired, normally the insurance company will authorize a rental car until the car is fixed. If the person at fault does not admit that they are at fault quickly, then you can get the vehicle fixed under your collision coverage of your policy, subject to a deductible. If your insurance company pays under the collision portion of your policy they will then attempt to get their money back from the person at fault in the accident and will also get you back your deductible.Your accident lawyer baltimore can help you navigate the way.
6) Prevent your insurance company from raising your rates or canceling your policy
If your property damage is fixed under the collision portion of your own policy, then your insurance company may raise your rate or may cancel you, unless they are able to get their money back from the person who was at fault in this particular accident. The insurance company cannot cancel you or raise your rates if you collect PIP benefits no matter who is at fault. If your vehicle is fixed or your claim is settled under the uninsured portion of your policy then your rates will not go up. Your accident lawyer baltimore can help you navigate the process and help you to try and avoid a rate increase.
7) Help resolve disputes quickly
If there is a dispute as to the liability, your accident lawyer baltimore can also contact and make arrangements to get recorded statements from your witnesses, and can provide that information to both insurance companies. Your accident lawyer baltimore may also be able to locate other witnesses and may also be able to obtain the police report to contact the police officer for additional information that may be helpful.
8) Obtain medical records promptly
Subsequently, your accident lawyer baltimore will obtain all of your medical records and medical bills in order to properly evaluate your claim. Your accident lawyer baltimore will then send your medical bills and reports to the insurance company so that they may properly evaluate your claim. This medical documentation is extremely important as insurance companies handle millions of claims and their total evaluation of a claim is based upon the documentation they have in their file. Good documentation will result in good settlements. Little or no documentation will result in little or no settlement. An accident lawyer baltimore will make sure that you receive the proper documentation from your medical provider and will send the proper questions to the doctor if any of the documentation is lacking, to meet insurance company requirements and to adequately settle your claim. It is extremely important to obtain all medical records and all medical bills in your claim. The more documentation that you provide to the insurance company, the more likely it is that you will get a larger settlement. The accident lawyer baltimore will also be helpful in obtaining any information regarding any lost wages that you have. The attorney will contact your employer directly.
9) Get the insurance company to rule in your favor
Sometimes insurance adjusters are lazy and not supportive of their own insured. An accident lawyer baltimore can also be helpful in getting your insurance company to help you investigate your claim and can help you stay on top of your own insurance company by feeding them useful information to get them to back you up in a claim. You do not want your insurance company to pay the claim of the other party if you are not at fault because that can affect your insurance rates and ultimately result in a cancellation of your policy. An accident lawyer baltimore can be helpful in convincing an insurance company that your position is the correct position and that you are in the right. An attorney may also be helpful in getting your insurance company to spend the necessary time and money to hire experts in order to prove your version of the case.
10) Help with recorded statements and filtering information to the insurance companies
An accident lawyer baltimore can be extremely helpful in dealing with the other insurance company. When you speak with the other insurance company, for example, they may ask you to give a recorded statement. Attorneys know to advise you that any statement you give an insurance company can be used against you later in court. It is extremely difficult for people to attest to the same event in exactly the same way each time, so each time you give a recorded statement to someone, it will likely vary from any other statement you’ve given. This can result in an adverse verdict against you in court, then, because the jury will feel you have changed your story. It is always a bad idea to give a recorded statement or even speak to the insurance company for the other side directly. Even if the statement is not recorded, the insurance adjuster is taking notes that can ultimately be used against you. On the other hand, anything an attorney says to the insurance company cannot be used against you because it is not admissible in court. In addition, an attorney knows what information should be given to an insurance company and what information should not be given to an insurance company. People unfamiliar with the process often give too much information when talking to an insurance company, resulting in an adverse decision by the insurance company. Attorneys are trained to know what is the best way to present your case in a light most favorable to your claim.
11) Submit a convincing and complete demand package
After all of your medical treatment has been completed, an attorney can then submit a demand package to the insurance company. A demand package includes a favorable description of the client and summaries of the accident itself, the liability issues involved, the injuries involved, medical treatment incurred and total medical expenses or other losses. Finally, an evaluation of the claim is submitted to the insurance company along with a demand. I have handled thousands of similar claims and I am extremely familiar with the values of these particular cases. Most clients have no idea of what their case is worth, since they have never been involved in the process before, or if they have been in the process before have only limited experiences.
12) Determine what a case is worth.
In evaluating the value of a claim, the attorney looks at many factors and considers many elements and questions surrounding the accident. Included in those factors is the type of injuries, such as whether fractures or any other physical signs of visible signs of injury exist versus complaints with no visible signs of injury. Questions and considerations include:
- Is there a permanent injury?
- Who is the client and what kind of witness will the client make?
- Where did the accident happen is important since some counties are known to give more generous verdicts than others.
- Whether there was significant damage to the vehicles involved since judges and juries are more likely to believe injuries in serious looking accidents than they are in minor property damage cases.
- What judge do you have?
- How long did the treatment last, which doctors performed the treatment, and were there any objective findings in the x-rays or MRI’s that would point to proof of injuries?
- Is there is any scarring and/or bruising
- What is the age and sex of the client?
- Whether the client has had any other accidents, as the courts look very closely at cases where a client has filed more than one claim and tend to give less credence to people who have filed many claims
- Is the fault clear or disputed?
Lawyers who have been practicing for a long period of time and have tried many cases know how to give weight to each one of these factors. You can see that each case is different and there is no way for a lawyer to tell you the first day of an accident what the case is worth. The lawyer’s opinion of the value of the case can change as more information is gathered over a period of time and any lawyer who promises you that he knows the value of your case based upon your initial interview, will most likely not be able to deliver on any promise he makes.
13) Recover money even if the person who causes the accident does not have insurance
If the person who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance, then you can collect under the uninsured motorist portion of your policy. Under the uninsured motorist portion of your policy, your insurance company will step into the shoes of the person who was at fault as if they had insurance coverage with your insurance company and will pay everything that you are entitled to receive through the uninsured motorist portion as if they insured the person who was at fault. When benefits are claimed under the uninsured motorist coverage, your own insurance company cannot cancel you or surcharge you or raise your rates.
14) Recover benefits from several sources in a motor vehicle accident
There are many different benefits that you can collect in a motor vehicle accident. The first benefit you can collect is personal injury protection benefits which will pay medical expenses and lost wages up to $2,500.00. Personal injury protection benefits are paid under the insurance policy of the vehicle that you were in. In addition you can collect for the damage to your car, as well as for the cost of a rental car. Finally, you can collect from the person that is at fault medical expenses for the past, present and future, lost wages for the past, present and future, an additional amount for pain and suffering, and damages for loss of consortium which means any loss to your marriage. These benefits are in addition to any benefits paid by your personal injury protection carrier.
15) Settle your claim promptly
Times vary on how long it takes to settle an automobile accident claim, although it can be divided into two categories. Category one would be cases that are quickly accepted by the insurance company and typically these cases involve the client going to the doctor and completing their treatment. Then, usually thirty to forty-five days after the client has completed the treatment the case can be settled. Category two are the cases that cannot be settled. In category two there are also two types of cases. Cases worth less than $30,000.00 usually involve filing suit in the District Court. These cases can take anywhere between three to six months after your treatment is completed. Cases that have to be filed in the Circuit Court which are typically worth more than $30,000.00 usually take anywhere from one to three years.
For more info on car accident claims in Maryland, CLICK HERE.