Car Accident Attorney

YOU NEED AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY WHO CAN HANDLE YOUR CASE ANYWHERE IN THE STATE

The Law Office of Marc Atas and Associates handles auto accidents that occur in the Baltimore City and all 23 Maryland Counties. The Law office of Marc Atas and Associates has obtained millions of dollars for their clients.

  • Baltimore City
  • Baltimore County
  • Anne Arundel County
  • Howard County
  • Harford County
  • Carroll County
  • Western Maryland
  • Eastern Shore
  • Prince Georges County
  • Montgomery County

YOU NEED AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY WHO HAS VAST EXPERIENCE DEALING WITH THE COMPLICATED ISSUES OF CAR ACCIDENTS

  • Negligence
  • Contributory negligence
  • Assumption of risk
  • Proximate cause
  • Sovereign Immunity
  • Rear- end collision
  • Lane Change
  • Speeding
  • Drunk Driver
  • Passenger vs. Driver
  • Word vs. Word
  • Pre-existing Conditions
  • Head on Collision
  • Insurance

YOU NEED AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY WHO REPRESENTS YOUR INTEREST-YOU SHOULD NEVER REPRESENT YOURSELF

The driver responsible for your injuries is represented by insurance adjusters and attorneys hired by the insurance company. Insurance adjusters are paid to prevent you from receiving fair payment for your injuries. Car accident attorney Marc Atas knows the tricks that these insurance companies use to avoid paying the victim of an auto accident and will fight to ensure you obtain all of the benefits you are entitled to receive.

  • 38 years legal experience
  • Cum Laude Honors University OF Baltimore School of Law
  • Heuisler Honor Society
  • American Jurisprudence Book award
  • Baltimore City Bar Association
  • Maryland State Bar Association
  • Maryland Association for Justice

YOU NEED AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY TO OBTAIN FOR YOU THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE!

Auto accident laws are meant to ensure that innocent drivers, who are injured in a car or truck accident, are provided with the following benefits:

  • Vehicle repair
  • Rental car
  • loss of use
  • Lost wages
  • Medical treatment
  • Medical expenses reimbursement
  • Total loss payments
  • Diminished value
  • pain and suffering awards
  • Wrongful death
  • Survival action claims
  • Loss of consortium

YOU NEED AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY WHO IS FAMILIAR WITH PURSUING JUSTICE AGAINST ALL TYPES OF AT FAULT DEFENDANTS

  • UBER DRIVER
  • LYFT DRIVERS
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
  • STATE GOVERNMENT
  • COUNTY GOVERNMENT
  • UNINSURED MOTORIST
  • UNDERINSURED MOTORISTS
  • TAXI- CABS
  • SCHOOL BUSES
  • UNITED STATES POST OFFICE
  • MTA BUS OR SUBWAY
  • TRACTOR TRAILERS
  • MOTORCYCLES
  • COMPANY VEHICLES
  • DISAPPEARING MOTORISTS
  • HIT AND RUN
  • NEGLIGENT ROAD DESIGN

YOU NEED AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY WHO IS FAMILIAR WITH ALL OF THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF INJURIES

  • Back/Lumbar
  • Neck/Cervical
  • Fingers/ Hands/ Wrists
  • Shoulder/ Rotator Cuff
  • Ankles/ Knees/Legs
  • Disfigurement/ Scars
  • Injuries Requiring Surgery
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Stress and Psychiatric Injuries
  • Broken/Fractured Bones
  • Torn Ligaments
  • Whiplash

YOU NEED AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY WHO CAN GET YOU THE MEDICAL TREATMENT YOU NEED

If you are involved in a car accident, you will need to receive timely, quality, affordable medical care. The Law Office of Marc Atas and Associates can refer you to Doctors who:

  • Specializes in vehicle accident injuries
  • Will see you usually the same day
  • Will wait until your case is settled for payment of medical bills
  • Specialize in Internal Medicine, Orthopedics, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Psychiatry

YOU NEED AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY WHO IS FAMILIAR WITH THE COURT SYSTEM AND WHO IS EAGER TO TAKE YOUR CASE TO COURT IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY DELAYS OR OFFERS UNREASONABLE SETTLEMENTS

When the Insurance Company refuses to accept responsibility for your damages and injuries, it will be necessary for your Auto Accident Attorney to go to court to fight for your rights.

  • District Court
  • Circuit Court
  • Court of Special Appeals
  • Court of Appeals
  • Federal District Court
  • Arbitrations
  • Mediations
  • Insurance Commissioner

Contact the Law Office of Marc J. Atas and Associates, to assist you with your Automobile/truck/motorcycle claim.

Free Initial Consultation and NO Fees or Costs Unless We Win. We WILL GET YOU THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE!

YOU NEED AN AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY YOU CAN AFFORD.

The simple answer is no. The initial consultation is free. Often, I can answer simple legal questions over the phone. My general philosophy with regard to giving legal advice is as follows. If you have a relatively simple question, that can be answered based upon my present knowledge, I will be glad to answer to question or give you some guidance without charging you for my expertise. I have had wide legal experience over more than thirty- eight years, so there are many topics that I am familiar with. If I do not know the answer, but can figure it out with minimal work, for an old client there is likely to be no charge. If the matter is outside of my areas of knowledge or expertise, then I still encourage clients to call. I like to act as the gatekeeper for all of my clients’ legal problems. I keep a list of lawyers I recommend for all types of legal problems. Most of these lawyers I personally know or have referred clients in the past with successful results. A lawyer can- not possibly know all of the laws in all of the areas of law. It is hard enough to know all of the law in one area of expertise.

See the next section for further details regarding contingency fees in workers compensation cases.

The initial consultation is important to the lawyer as well as the client. For the client it is your opportunity to meet the lawyer and tell him about the case. Questions should be asked of the lawyer regarding your case, as well as about the lawyer. Clients should size up the lawyer at that time to make sure the lawyer is someone the client wants to work with.

In auto accident and personal injury claims, the fee is one third of whatever is recovered. The fee is based upon the gross recovery. If there is no recovery, there is no fee and no expenses reimbursement is due. In addition, you may be responsible for any expenses incurred if there is a recovery. If, suit has to be filed because the case can- not be settled, the fee percentage will raise to forty percent of any gross recovery. Gross recovery means the total amount recovered before any medical bills, expenses, liens, and lost wages are paid. There normally is no fee for personal injury protection benefits or property damages paid unless suit is required to collect those benefits.

In addition, clients will be responsible for reimbursing the attorney for any expenses incurred by the attorney only if there is a settlement or jury or judge verdict. Expenses are explained in the next section.

Legal expenses include the costs of obtaining police reports-$10-$20.00, as well as doctor and hospital bills and reports. In addition, when an auto/truck/motorcycle/pedestrian cases can -not be settled, it will be necessary to file a lawsuit and the case may go to trial. Legal expenses include the filing fee for the court-$30.00 to $180.00, private process servers-$50 to $150.00 per service, court reporter charge for a deposition-$250.00 to $750.00, doctor charges for testimony, video costs for video deposition of experts, expert fees for testimony and finally the costs of any private investigator or other expert needed in order to prove your case.

The costs the lawyers have to pay for medical records and medical bills can add up. Under the old law it was not uncommon for a hospital or doctor’s office with hundreds of pages of records to charge five hundred dollars or more for photocopying medical records. Fortunately, in 2016 the Maryland legislature limited the maximum fees that could be charged for medical record copying to the sum of $102.88. see statute at end of article.

If specific information is requested from your medical provider that he has not automatically put in your medical record, the doctor will usually require a separate fee to provide specific information requested. Often, this information is crucial to your case. The typical cost for this type of letter can be between two hundred and fifty dollars to seven hundred and fifty dollars.

When an auto/truck/motorcycle/pedestrian cases proceeds to trial,it will be necessary to put on evidence from medical experts. This evidence can be presented in two ways. The first method is by actually having the doctor testify in person in front of a jury. While this is the most effective method, it is also the costliest. If the doctor is going to come to court, he normally will block off the whole day and charge accordingly. In person testimony can cost you between $5000.00 to $10,000.00 per day. In addition, you need to book the doctor in advance for the trial date. If the case gets delayed for an additional day or two, then you may have to pay the doctor for additional days. If the time for his testimony is delayed or postponed, the doctor may no longer be available. The other method used to preserve doctor testimony is by video deposition. This is not inexpensive but is less expensive than live testimony, since the video deposition can be taken at the doctor’s convenience at his office. Typical costs for a video deposition include, the Doctor fee-$500.00 to $2500.00 plus a court reporter to type his testimony-between $500.00 to $1000.00 dollars. Finally, a videographer to video tape the testimony. $250.00 to $750.00. If the video needs to be played in court usually the court has a video player. However, if there is no video player at the court than there will be additional charges

Some law firms charge for long distance telephone, calls, photocopies and research time, but we do not. The client is normally only responsible for the costs if we recover money in your case. If there is no recovery then the client usually will not be responsible for those costs unless we agree otherwise.

New Maryland Law on Photocopy charges for medical records

Article Health General Annotated Code of Maryland
4-304.

(c) (1) (i) In this subsection, medical record includes a copy of a medical bill that has been requested by an individual.

(ii) The provisions of this subsection do not apply to x-rays.

(2) A health care provider may require a person in interest or any other authorized person who requests a copy of a medical record to pay for the cost of copying:

  • For State facilities regulated by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as provided in ‘4-206 of the General Provisions Article; or
  • For all other health care providers, a reasonable cost-based fee for providing the information requested.

(3) (i) Except as provided in subparagraph (iii) of this subsection, for a copy of a medical record requested by a person in interest or any other authorized person under paragraph (2)(ii) of this subsection, a health care provider may charge a fee for copying and mailing not exceeding $0.76 for each page of the medical record.

(ii) In addition to the fee charged under subparagraph

(i) of this paragraph, a hospital or a health care provider may charge:

  1. Subject to the fee limitations that apply to persons in interest under 45 C.F.R. 164.524 and any guidance on those limitations issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a preparation fee not to exceed $22.88 for medical record retrieval and preparation; and
  2. The actual cost for postage and handling of the medical record.

(iii) Subject to the fee limitations that apply to persons in interest under 45 C.F.R. 164.524 and any guidance on those limitations issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

a hospital or a health care provider that uses or maintains the requested medical records in an electronic format, may charge for an electronic copy of a medical record in an electronic format requested by a person in interest or any other authorized person:

  1. A preparation fee not to exceed $22.88 for electronic format medical records retrieval and preparation;
  2. A per page fee of 75% of the per page fee charged by a health care provider under paragraph (3)(i) of this section that may not exceed $80; and
  3. The actual cost for postage and handling of the Electronic Format Medical Records.
  • (i) Except as provided in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph, the fees charged under paragraph (3) of this subsection may be adjusted annually for inflation in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.

(ii) The preparation fee charged for medical record retrieval and preparation under paragraph (3)(ii)1 of this subsection and for retrieval and preparation of a medical record in an electronic format under paragraph (3)(iii)1 of this subsection may not be adjusted annually for inflation in accordance with the Consumer Price Index.

  • (i) Except as provided in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph, a health care provider may charge a fee, as authorized under paragraphs (3) and (4) of this subsection, for the retrieval, copying, preparation, mailing, and actual cost of postage and handling of a medical record disclosed under ‘ 4-306 of this subtitle.

(ii) If a government unit or agency makes a request for the disclosure of a medical record under’ 4-306 of this subtitle, a health care provider may not charge the government unit or agency a fee for the retrieval, copying, preparation, mailing, and actual cost of postage and handling of the medical record.

  • Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a health care provider may not charge a person in interest, except for an attorney appointed in
  • 4-304(3)(i i i)(1 ) allows for a preparation fee of $22.88 for the provision of EMR. This is the same charge as that for paper records.
  • 4-304(3)(iii)(2) provides the most significant reduction in allowable fees for EMR in limiting the per page fee to 75 percent of the per page fee charged by a health care provider under paragraph (3)(i) of this section that may not exceed $80. The per page fee allowed by paragraph (3)(i) is currently 76 cents. 75 percent of 76 cents is 57 cents. Given the cap of $80 on the overall per page fee, this means that the first 140 pages of the EMR will be billed at a rate of 57 cents per page. The charge cannot exceed $80 regardless of the number of pages.
  • 4-304(3)(iii)(3) allows for the charge of actual postage and handling and is unchanged from prior law.
  • 4-304(4)(i) applies the annual CPI adjustment to the fees charged, however, 3-304(4)(ii) exempts the $22.88 preparation fee for both paper records and EMR from that adjustment, providing a $22.88 preparation charge in perpetuity.
  • The bottom line is that as of October 1, 2016, the maximum charge for the provision of EMR charts of 140 or more pages will be $102.88 ($80 + $22.88) plus actual postage and handling. Smaller charts will cost less. No longer will we receive invoices for thousands of dollars for records billed at 76 cents per page even though they are maintained and provided on disc at the push of a button. No longer will our offices have to spend valuable time arguing and negotiating with health care providers and their third- party copy service surrogates over outrageous.

How long will my Car, Truck or Motorcycle Accident take to Settle?

When you are involved in an accident, the legal process can be confusing. Ideally, the client’s goals are to obtain great medical treatment and to settle the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money. There are numerous steps in order to accomplish all of the client’s goals. Cases can be resolved or settled during three different time periods, before suit is filed, after suit is filed but before trial, or at a trial. Factors that effect when cases are resolved are numerous.

Cases often settle without a trial or before suit is filed. The steps necessary to prepare a case for settlement without a trial or before suit is filed are outlined in the following four blog articles:

ROADMAP FOR A MARYLAND AUTO MOTORCYCLE OR TRUCK ACCIDENT CASE

Baltimore Injury Lawyer Explains What Determines Who Is Responsible in An Auto Accident

What Can an Accident Lawyer Baltimore Do for Me in An Automobile Accident Case?

How Long for Car Accident Claim to Settle?

Auto Accidents from A to Z

Many questions may be running through your mind if you have been involved in an accident while driving. An attorney can restore the quiet and provide answers to help you understand how to handle your case, every step of the way.

What should I do when involved in an auto accident?

  1. Stay calm and do not admit fault to anyone.
  2. Call the police.
  3. Exchange information with the other driver.
  4. If injured, try to go to the hospital the same day.
  5. Make sure you write down the tag number, name of driver, name of other car’s owner, insurance information and the police report number, even if the police officer tells you that he has gotten all the information and will give you a police report.
  6. Contact your attorney to discuss the options in your case.
  7. Contact your insurance company to report the accident.
  8. If you don’t intend to use a lawyer, contact the other driver’s insurance company.

Below is some important information to consider when involved in an auto accident:

  • Can I Use My Baltimore Accident Lawyer to represent me for my out of state car accident?

    Can I use a Baltimore Accident lawyer for an accident that happened out of state?

    Yes. If you live in Maryland but were in an accident while you were in another state such as Georgia, Washington DC, New Jersey, Delaware,New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania,West Virginia, The Law Office of Marc Atas and Associates will represent you for your personal injury, car accident, truck accident, automobile accident, and property damage claims. While we are only licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland, we can do the following legal activities on your behalf. The Law Office of Marc Atas and Associates can resolve your car damage claim, diminished value of car claim, make sure you receive timely medical treatment, aid the insurance company in accepting liability, take statements from witnesses, obtain police reports and finally attempt to settle your claim. If we are unable to settle your claim, we will locate counsel in the appropriate state to file suit and go to court on your behalf. The attorney fee arrangement will remain the same even if additional counsel is necessary and will not result in any additional fee. The personal injury, car accident, truck accident, and automobile accident laws in Delaware,New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania,West Virginia, Georgia, Washington DC and New Jersey are complicated. Each state has it’s own laws with regard to tort claim/no-fault, minimum policy limits, contributory negligence/comparative negligence,caps on pain and suffering, statute of limitations, punitive damages,and recovery of attorney fees. There are time limitations which must be strictly followed with regard to statute of limitations, putting local governments on notice, and filing paperwork with the insurance company within the required time limits. I have outlined the basic laws that apply when involved in personal injury, car accident, truck accident, or automobile accident in Delaware,New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia , Georgia, Washington DC and New Jersey in a linked article .

    How much do lawyers charge to represent a car accident victim?

  • How can a lawyer help me if I have been in an automobile accident?

    How can a lawyer help me if I have been in an automobile accident?

    Contact an attorney immediately-even before you contact an insurance company– if you are injured in an automobile accident and feel you are not at fault. See attached article on how to choose an attorney.Once you contact the attorney, he/she will interview you to determine the full extent of your injury and to assess who is at fault in the accident. Attorneys often do not charge a fee for the telephone consultation that analyzes these two issues and once it is determined you were involved and injured in an accident that was most likely not your fault, they recommend meeting to review your case in greater detail.

    1) Collect all of the necessary data

    2) Find a qualified doctor

    3) Help Collect PIP benefits

    4) What is a PIP waiver?

    5) Fix your car and obtain a rental car quickly

    6) Prevent your insurance company from raising your rates or canceling your policy

    7) Help resolve disputes quickly

    8) Obtain medical records promptly

    9) Get the insurance company to rule in your favor

    10) Help with recorded statements and filtering information to the insurance companies

    11) Submit a convincing and complete demand package

    12) Determine what a case is worth.

    13) Recover money even if the person who causes the accident does not have insurance

    14) Recover benefits from several sources in a motor vehicle accident

    15) Settle your claim promptly

    As you read along in the A-Z Auto Accidents, each one of these areas is fully explained.Each one of these steps must be carefully completed in order to ensure that your accident claim is handled in a professional and timely manner. If any of these steps are skipped, then it is more likely than not that either the insurance company will refuse to settle your claim or in the alternative, make you a settlement offer that you will be unhappy with.In addition failure to follow these steps will result in delay in payment of the damage to your car , reimbursement of lost wages, payment of medical bills and the settlement of your personal injury claim.

    How much does a lawyer charge to represent a victim in a car accident?

  • An Attorney Can…Find Medical Care

    If you have been injured and have not received medical treatment, an attorney can help you find the appropriate medical care. Specialists like orthopedic surgeons or neurologists have especially long waiting lists that cause patients to wait months before receiving care. Attorneys can help greatly with this lag time, as they can get specialist appointments for their clients in a relatively short period of time, allowing for adequate medical treatment in a much timelier manner.Documentation by the doctor is extremely important. One of the best way to prove your injuries is thru the documentation that your doctor keeps.Insurance companies often take the position, if it is not in the medical report , than it never happened.If you take time off from work, you will likely not be reimbursed unless you have an off work slip. If you testify you were in constant pain and you keep all of your doctor and therapy appointments, a trier of fact is more likely to believe your complaints then if you missed half of your doctor appointments.Doctors notes regard your complaints at each visit, will support your testimony regarding your complaints at the time of the accident.

    Doctors testimony is also important to support your contention that the injuries you are complaining about are related to the accident.Most doctors do not like to get involved in litigation.Often doctors will assert they can not testify that an injury is related to an accident since they were not there when you were injured.As ridiculous as this may sound, this is the doctors way of saying that they do not want to get involved. Lawyers work with Doctors who are willing to support their patient including testifying in court as part of their accident claim.

    Lawyers can usually find doctors who are willing to wait until insurance pays their bill or until their case is settled. Most regular physicians will not let you even make an appointment until you pay them up front or unless you have medical insurance. even with medical insurance, they want any deductibles paid up front. Often accident victims, do not have the funds to pay the up front deductible.

    Article on role of lawyer in clients pain management

  • An Attorney Can…Enlist Supportive Physicians

    To prove to an insurance company and/or jury that you were in fact injured, a doctor must provide detailed reports connecting your injuries to the accident. You will likely find that doctors try to avoid litigation because they do not like going to court and that many physicians refuse to dictate the lengthy reports demanded by the insurance companies. It is important, then, to select a doctor who is at least willing to complete 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 off of 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. Keep in mind when selecting a doctor that how well the doctor documents your injuries translates directly to how much money you may get from the settlement.

    Doctors seem reluctant to order physical therapy, MRI’s, x-rays, medical devices or to see the patient frequently because they are concerned about how they will get paid for their services. In addition some doctors are less sympathetic to the complaints of people involved in an accident. Doctors  can also be influenced by the insurance companies including health insurance carriers who are only interested in the bottom line and seem less interested in patient care.Lawyers usually have a list of Doctors who deal with accident patients all the time and are more likely to give the patient the attention they deserve.Every doctor has a specialty and that includes doctors who specialize in treating patients who have been injured in an auto accident.

  • An Attorney Can…Gain Insurer’s Support

    Sometimes insurance adjusters are lazy and unsupportive of their own insured. An attorney 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 attorney 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.

  • An Attorney Can…Prove Your Innocence To Other Insurance Company

    Your attorney will also report your claim to the individual at fault’s insurance company. If the faulty party admits fault from the very beginning, your attorney can make arrangements for the other insurance company to look at your car and provide a rental vehicle. If the other party disputes the liability in the case, your attorney must then 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 the injured party does not have to lay out any out of pocket money 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. Attorneys are also familiar with reputable body shops that can repair your car with competence and care.

    Attorneys know the traffic laws. attorneys are also familiar with the case law that interprets all types of traffic accident situations. Insurance adjusters are not usually attorneys and while they have some knowledge of the law, they do not have the same training as an attorney. Often mistaken beliefs of the adjuster can be corrected by the attorney sending a copy of a recent appellate case, with a set of facts similar to the facts in our case.

    A good attorney will also be very familiar with the area. Even if the attorney is unfamiliar with the area, he can quickly familiarize himself with the area by either going to the scene and taking pictures for the benefit of the insurance company or locating the scene of the accident on google maps. Often, an attorney after guiding an adjuster thru a review of pictures or a look at google maps can convince an insurance adjuster that despite what his insured said, the accident could not have actually happened that way.In the old days this time of evidence would not come out until trial.

  • An Attorney Can…Locate And Interview Witnesses

    If there is a liability dispute, your attorney contacts and makes arrangements to get recorded statements from your witnesses and then provides that information to both insurance companies. Your attorney may also be able to locate other witnesses and obtain the police report to contact the police officer for additional helpful information.When there is a dispute as to who is at fault, contacting the witnesses early is very important. Often witnesses leave only a name and phone number at the scene. Sometimes the witnesses leave no information and only talk to the parties at the scene and then leave.Once the client reports the accident to the lawyer, the lawyer should immediately attempt to contact the witness. Upon speaking to the witness the lawyer should get enough information from the witness so that if the case does go to trial several years later the witness can be located. Lawyers will usually get the name , address and telephone number of the witness. I always try to get emergency contacts for the witness like parents or place of employment. If the witness will provide it I will get their date of birth. All of the above information will make it easier to locate the witness in the future.I will then try to interview the witness immediately. I will go over the story with the witness and make sure they know as many details as possible. The insurance companies will only talk to the witness one time, so when they do give a statement , I want them to have the story straight with no confusion. By the time the witness gives a statement to the insurance company his testimony should be as polished as if he were ready to testify in court.

    In addition talking to the witness will also expose weaknesses in our case that either need to be strengthened or perhaps lead to the conclusion that the case should be dropped.

  • An Attorney Can…Gather Proper Medical Documentation

    It is extremely important to acquire all medical records and all medical bills related to your claim. Medical record can be difficult to obtain. Your attorney will know where to write in order to receive the records you need. In order to obtain most medical records a fee must be paid for preparation of the records and for photocopying. Your attorney can advance those costs and be re-imbursed when your case is settled. Medical bills are always a time consuming effort. When you are seen at a hospital there will likely be at least three bills. The three bills include the hospital bill, the doctor who treated you at the hospital and finally if you had x-rays there will be a bill from the radiologist. If you were taken by ambulance to the hospital, there will also be an ambulance bill.When you see the doctor he will generate bills and if he sends you for x-rays or physical therapy there will be additional bills.When your treatment has been completed and the doctor has discharged you, your attorney will determine the costs necessary for any treatment to be rendered in the future.After obtaining all of this documentation, your attorney will begin to evaluate your claim and will send your materials to the insurance company for further evaluation. As the insurance company handles millions of claims, it will evaluate your case solely on the quality of your medical documentation. Ensure that your case is given the care it deserves by providing your insurer with comprehensive medical documentation to back up your injuries. The more documentation you provide the insurance company, the more likely it is that you will get a larger settlement. Good documentation will result in good settlements; little or no documentation will result in little or no settlement. An attorney will make sure that you receive the proper documentation from your medical provider by sending the appropriate questions to the doctor. The attorney can also help you by contacting your employer for information regarding any lost wages you have suffered.

  • An Attorney Can…Persuade The Adjuster

    Sometimes your own insurance company wrongly decides to pay the claim for the other driver, believing you are at fault.Sometimes insurance adjusters are lazy and un-supportive of their own insured. Attorneys can challenge this attitude by feeding the adjusters useful information that will gain their support and help in investigating your claim. At times, the adjusters themselves will even hire experts to prove your version of the case. An attorney can help convince an insurance company that your position is the correct position and that you are in the right.

    You do not want your insurance company to pay the claim of the other party, for example, if you are not at fault. With the counsel of an attorney, you can avoid the wrongful premium raises or unfair cancellations that would result from this lack of support from your insurer.While adjusters normally go out of their way their way to accept their Insureds  version of the accident that will result in them not having to party the claim, there are times, especially with inexperienced or overworked adjusters where they make the wrong decision. Your lawyer can then step in to advocate on your behalf why the claim should not be paid. Usually, even if the adjuster thinks his client is a fault, he will talk to his insured attorney, to see why he took the case , before he ultimately pays the claim. This gives counsel another chance to explain the insured version of the facts.The attorney can then present again all of the evidence he has to prove that the insured was not in the wrong. law regarding fault in a roundabout case

    The attorney can get the witnesses on the phone with the adjuster, get the policeman on the phone to explain what he saw but did not put on his report. Sometimes it can be as easy as providing pictures of the damage to the cars and explaining why the accident could not have happened the way the other side is asserting.

     

  • An Attorney Can…Speak On Your Behalf

    Attorneys are also experienced in dealing with the other insurance company involved. The insurer may ask you to give a recorded statement, for example. An attorney knows to advise you that any statement you give an insurance company can be later used against you in court. Without this caveat from an attorney, you may not be aware how negatively a statement could affect your case.

    An attorney knows how difficult it can be to attest to the same event in exactly the same way each time you are called to discuss it. Your legal counsel also knows that each time you give a recorded statement it will likely vary from other statement you’ve given in the past, providing the jury with the impression that you have changed your story. This can result in an adverse-and unnecessary-verdict in court. While it is always a bad idea for you to give a recorded statement or speak directly to the other insurance company, an attorney can speak to the insurance company knowing that what he/she says cannot be used against you as it is not admissible in court.

    In addition, an attorney knows what information should and should not be given to an insurance company. People unfamiliar with the process sometimes 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.

    Insurance adjusters are trained to take advantage of people who are unrepresented. An insurance adjuster will never tell you about benefits you are entitled to but did not know to ask for.

    Adjusters know that if they say no to an attorney, the attorney knows how to take the case to court. The Insurance adjuster also knows that if he tells a person who does not have an attorney, no, that that person is unfamiliar with the steps to filing suit and going to court.

    Insurance adjusters are famous for not taking phone calls or not doing what they promised. Attorneys are trained to follow up with supervisors and to send letters confirming conversations with the adjuster.

  • An Attorney Can…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 injury exist versus complaints with no visible signs of injury.

    • 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.
    • Who is the attorney?
    • 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 weigh each one of these factors. As each case is different and multi-faceted, there is no way a lawyer can realistically appraise your case on the first day of your accident. The lawyer’s opinion of the value of the case can change drastically as more information accrues over time. Any lawyer who promises that he knows the value of your case based on your initial interview will most likely fail to deliver on the promise he/she has made.

  • An Attorney Can…Submit Demand Package

    After all of your medical treatment has been completed, an attorney can then submit a demand package to the insurance company. This demand package includes a favorable description of the client, summaries of the accident, a detail of medical treatments, and a description of the liability issues, injuries and total medical expenses or loss involved. A claim evaluation and demand for monetary compensation are also included in the demand package submitted to the insurance company. Serving as well-seasoned claim-evaluators, attorneys again are helpful in that they can set a demand value for their clients who would otherwise have no idea what their cases are worth.

    Sample demand letter

    Geico

    P.O. Box 9505

    Fredericksburg, VA 22304

    ATTN:  NATHANIEL PATTON

     RE:      Client:             Sherry Jones

    Claim No.:      040862917                                                  

               

    Dear Nathaniel:

     

                Enclosed please find the final medicals for the above named client.  Medicals include the following:

     

                            MEDICAL BILLS TO DATE

     

    EMPI                                                 $1416.84

    Advanced Radiology 2/19/15                 $77.00

    Franklin Square Hospital                       $479.19

    Multi-Specialty                                    $18285.00

    Med, LLC                                            $517.50

    MRImages                                          $4089.00

    Comprehensive Sports and Spine           $8990.00

    Quest Diagnostic                                    $124.78

    Harford ambulatory service                      $7855.00

    Total Medical expenses                           $41355.12

     

    Lost Wages 2/16/15 to 1/8/16

    Joes Nightclub                              $

     

    Property damage         $2,539.14

     

     

    2/16/15 Franklin Square Hospital, was in a motor vehicle accident complaining about right shoulder pain.

     

    2/19/15 Multi-Specialty with Dr. Kara  a chiropractor, complaining about neck, upper back, right elbow and right shoulder from the auto accident, says she was struck from behind and subsequently pushed into the vehicle in front of her.  She saw the impact in the rear view mirror and was bracing for impact and struck her right arm outstretched against the windshield and actually broke the windshield and she went to Franklin Square Hospital and no x-rays were ordered.  She also in addition to the complaints mentioned above she was having some right wrist pain and numbness and tingling of her digits on the fourth and fifth finger of her right hand.  Examination of the neck showed tenderness more on the right side than left and had full range of motion.  Examination of the right elbow showed tenderness as well as a positive tinels test, there was some puffiness noted at her elbow and she had limited range of motion.  Examination of her right shoulder revealed tenderness, range of motion was decreased.  She was referred to Advanced Radiology to rule out a fracture of her right elbow and also had x-rays of her shoulder and neck.  She was diagnosed with a neck strain, right elbow sprain/strain of the right shoulder which was related to the accident.  She was started on a course of physical therapy and she was placed off work.

     2/19/15 She had a x-ray done of her right shoulder which was normal.

     3/3/15              She had a MRI done of her right elbow which showed small elbow joint effusion and tunnel derangement

     3/11/15 Followed up at Multi-Specialty by Dr. Baba still complaining about neck, right shoulder, right elbow, as well as right upper arm numbness.  X-rays of the neck slowed a slight right lean, as well as reverse of the normal lordosis consisted with significant muscle spasm.  Right shoulder x-rays showed narrowing of the AC joint with sub-acrominal soft tissue edema and she remains off work and continues in therapy, has been using her medications but having trouble sleeping.  She is also noting now a headache.  Examination of the neck, right shoulder and right elbow show limited range of motion and tenderness, right shoulder examination showed mild to moderate impingement, right elbow showed improved range of motion with some limitation, right hand strength was normal and the bruising to her right index finger was resolved.  Diagnosis was continued neck, upper back, right elbow pain and dysfunction from her car accident.  MRI of the neck and right shoulder were ordered, nerve conduction studies were also ordered of the right extremity, she remained off work, given a prescription for Valium to help her sleep, as well as for anxiety.

     3/16/15 Dr. Reisch EMG Nerve Conduction Studies which were normal.

     3/16/15 MRI of right shoulder says abnormal high signal of the posterior superior, and anterosuperior glenoid labrum from 10:00 to 3:00 position suspicious of slap tear.  MR arthrogram correlation is suggested, mild tendinopathy in the tendon and mesculotendinous junction of the supraspinatus, mild tendinopathy of the middle fibers of the supscapularis, no rotator cuff tear, mild degenerative changes in the cromioclavicular joint, undersurface of the joint indents with superior surface of the supraspinatus mesculotendinous junction, mild subacrominal – subdeltoid bursitis, mild narrow contusion in the anterior facet of the greater tuberosipy.

     3/16/15 MRI of the neck showed mild loss of reverse of cervical lordosis C2-3, mild desiccation at C2-3, C3-4, C4-5, diffuse asymmetrical, right sided broad based posterior disk budge at C3-4 causing mild right neuroforaminal .Stenosis

     3/25/15 Multi-Specialty by Dr. Baba still having some pain in right shoulder, neck and right elbow, although neck and right elbow are somewhat improved, she continues to have radiation of pain from her neck to her right elbow.  EMG done by Dr. Reisch shows no evidence of cervical radiculopathy with brachial plexus lesion with thoracic outlet syndrome, no peripheral nerve injury.  MRI of the neck showed significant reversal of normal lordosis consistent with deep myofascial injury.  MRI of the right shoulder showed normal high signal in the posteriosuperior and anteriosuperior glenoid labrum suspicious of a slap tear and suggested a MR arthrogram.  The doctor diagnosis her with a slap tear to the labrum with rotator cuff strain and post traumatic subacrominal impingement all consistent with the mechanism of injury when she struck the windshield with her hand as it slipped off the steering wheel and jammed her shoulder and elbow.  She was referred for orthopedic consultation, as well as aggressive pain management including a cortisone injection in the right shoulder and right elbow.  Examination of the neck and right shoulder and right elbow was tender with full ranges of motion.  Diagnosis significant injury to right shoulder, continue physical therapy, orthopedic consultation for the right shoulder.  Patient doesn’t want to have injections to her neck at this time, given some medications including Hydrocodone and Valium, told to remain off work.

     3/20/15 MRI of low back lumbar spondylosis and small left forminal disk protrusion of the L4-5, produced mild to moderate

     4/10/15 Dr. Jonathan Dunner patient gives the same history having difficulty rotating her right arm, complaining about pain in her shoulder and neck, physical therapy was stopped.  MRI is suspicious for slap tear.  Examination of left shoulder showed tenderness with limited range of motion.  Diagnosis right shoulder rotator cuff strain and he gave her an injection into the right shoulder and prescribed a Medrol-Dosepak and referred her back for physical therapy and strengthening to her rotator cuff, put her off work.

     4/15/15 Follow up with Dr. Baba and Dan Schech still having pain in the neck and right shoulder area, chiropractic physical therapy is helping and range of motion is still limited in the right shoulder, renewed her Hydrocodone, told her to continue physical therapy, continue out of work.

     5/6/15              Dr. Singh and Dr. Baba still complaining about right shoulder and right elbow, as well as numbness and tingling in the right third and fifth fingers.  Examination of the right shoulder showed tenderness, as well as slow range of motion, as did her right elbow, neck, continue taking medicine, stay out of work, follow up with the orthopedic surgeon, she prescribed Flexeril and Hydrocodone.

     5/19/15 Started aquatic therapy at Comprehensive Spine and Sport, Dr. Neil Cohen chiropractor, gave the same history, still having a lot of tightness in the neck, difficulty with her right shoulder including loss of range of motion, numbness, tingling and weakness in her little fingers.  Medrol-Dosepak has helped and the steroid injection gave some improved range of motion, having problems picking up things, driving or cleaning, she reports pain radiating in the right shoulder area to cough or sneeze, she is still not working, has significant tenderness, her biceps tendon as well her supraspinatus area, has a positive tinel sign at the elbow right side but is absent at the wrist, she has limited range of motion and his diagnosis is likely slap tear at right shoulder, cervical radiculopathy secondary to motor vehicle accident, he started her on aquatic therapy.

     5/27/15 Dr. Babaturk still having radiating pain in the neck, upper back, right shoulder, right elbow.  Injection done by Dr. Dunn helped moderately with the pain in the right shoulder.  Recent MRI showed a probably slap tear, as well as acromioclavicular degenerative joint disease, as well as extensive bursitis in that same shoulder, continues to take Flexeril and Hydrocodone.  She has had one week of aquatic therapy which has been helping.  Examination showed tenderness and spasm in the right shoulder, as well pain and limited motion of 100 degrees or more, right elbow showed normal pigmented swelling, has tenderness at the lateral epicondyle, she had a full range of motion however it was slow.  Diagnosis neck, mid back, right shoulder, right elbow pain, continue taking medication, continue aquatic therapy, stay out of work.

     6/5/15  Dr. Dunb still having numbness in the second and  third fingers on the right hand which is aggravated by right shoulder movement, feels she may need a second injection by Dr. Dunn, she is continuing aquatic therapy. Diagnosis right shoulder problem and renewed her Fiorinal, no work, continue with aquatic therapy and follow up with Dr. Dunn regarding injection.

     6/8/15  Dr. Reish EMG/nerve conduction studies were normal. 

     6/11/15 Dr. Cohen at aquatic therapy pain today is 3 out of 10.  Diagnosis right shoulder tendinopathy, as well as slap lesion and cervical radiculitis secondary to motor vehicle accident, continue aquatic therapy.

     6/19/15 Dr. Stern patient is still having neck, upper back, right shoulder and right elbow pain, patient continues physical therapy, continues to be off work.  Examination showed full range of motion in the neck, tenderness in the thoracic spine, limited range of motion in the right shoulder, tenderness in the right elbow.  Diagnosis neck, trapezius, right shoulder, right elbow strain/sprain and post traumatic headaches improved.  Continue off work, physical therapy to be placed on hold due to the fact that the client recently had plastic surgery.

     7/2/15              Dr. Dunn continued pain in the right shoulder, says she now has mild adhesive capulitis of the right shoulder, says she should do home exercises at this point, as well as stretching and if she doesn’t improve in the next couple of weeks she may need another injection and she can return back to work.

     7/17/15 Dr. Dunn still complaining about her right shoulder and clicking, she in aquatic therapy, given an injection in the right shoulder which resulted in her being able to do full range of motion, although there was some clicking on forward flexion.  Continue aquatic therapy, continue medications, follow up in three weeks.

     7/22/15 Dr. Cohen at aquatic therapy pain today is 4 out of 10, has tinel sign present at the elbow, continue therapy.

     7/22/15 Comprehensive Spine & Sports diagnosed her with a slap lesion of the right shoulder as well as cervical radiculitits and then she started aquatic therapy and regular therapy.

     8/13/15 Dr. Dunn still having pain in her right shoulder, discuss surgery, she had been offered an injection that was declined and she continued chiropractic physical therapy, as well as a compound of transdermal prescription for her inflammation in her right shoulder and follow up in two weeks.

     9/3/15              Multi-Specialty with Dr. Dunn she has failed conservative treatment, pain radiates upward to her neck, she has numbness and tingling in her index and middle finger, she has difficulty sleeping which is worse when she rolls onto the right side at night and any overhead activity, she has been in therapy for six months and feels that she has plateaued, she is currently not working.  Dr. Dunn recommended surgery at this point, including a right shoulder examination under anesthesia as well as an arthroscopic subacromial decompression with possible slap repair.

     9/22/15 Right shoulder surgery including a right shoulder examination under anesthesia, arthroscopic superior labial debridement and arthroscopic subacromial decompression.

     10/9/15 Dr. Dunn follow up after surgery still having pain 6 out of 10, still not working, recommending restarting physical therapy, do not lift anything heavy, gave her a new prescription for a new sling.

     10/14/15          Restarted physical therapy at Comprehensive Spine and Sport.

     11/6/15 Dr. Jonathan Dunn chief complaint of achy pain in the right shoulder 5 out of 10 six weeks post surgery, she is continue with her rehab with Dr. Cohen for physical therapy, continue aquatic therapy and land exercises, prescribed Meloxicam, cannot resume her regular work activities at this time and remain off work and follow up in four weeks.

     11/12/15          Dr. Cohen, physical therapist said to continue aquatic therapy, range of motion is still limited.

     12/11/15          Dr. Jonathan Dunn physical therapy is helping but she is still has a lot of pain on range of motion of the shoulder, having some numbness in the second and third fingers.  Dr. Dunn added Methocarbamol which can be used as a sleep aid, physical therapy is being transferred to the Dundalk office of Multi-Specialty and she was told to remain off work through 1/8/16.

     1/8/16              Dr. Jonathan Dunn, physical therapy has been completed at both Comprehensive Sports, as well as Multi-Specialty and seems to have no pain today although she does get a burning pain over the lateral aspect of the shoulder when she works out, she is not taking any pain medications, can return back to work full duty at this point.  She is presently doing bands with three pound weights, physical therapy is discontinued.

     4/19/16 Dr. Jonathan Dunn rating pain at this point is anywhere between 0 and 8 which is no pain at rest, she develops pain and difficulty when attempting overhead lifting and also has an occasional shoulder click, has difficulty with sleeping at times, also has difficulty when working and has to take frequent breaks at work, she also cuts hair and has to stop about every thirty minutes to rest, being in traffic increases her pain, when she does work at home it seems to get worse, she uses a lot of ice during the day, she is not taking any pain medications and has new injuries.  She has gone back to the gym like she did before the accident but she is only able to lift three to five pounds instead of the fifteen to twenty pounds she was lifting.  She can no longer walk her dog secondary to them pulling her.  She uses her other hand now for many tasks including gardening, pulling weeks, showering and shampooing her hair, she is back to her regular job working as a part time barber.  Examination showed mild crepitus and shoulder motion.  The doctor offered her a biceps tendon injection which she did not want to have at this point.  Dr. Cohen feels she has a permanent impairment caused by the accident and subsequent surgery and she is at maximum medical improvement, she will not need any other treatment in the future.

     Please be advised that a settlement in the amount of $200,000.00  would be fair and reasonable.

     

                Thank you.

     

                                                                                                                Sincerely yours,

                                                                                                                 MARC J. ATAS

  • An Attorney Can…Negotiate Settlement Offers

    After the demand package has been submitted to the insurance company, the attorney and the insurance carrier will begin to negotiate. Clients should never try to settle the case on their own.Attorneys who have settled thousands of cases and who have tried hundreds of cases obtain a good feel for what a case is worth. Evaluating a case for settlement is not a science, but is more of an art. there is no exact answer as to what a case is worth. Every case, no matter how similar it may seem to other cases the lawyers have tried, has some little nuance that will affect the value of the case. While the lawyer is only making an educated guess as to the value of the case, more often then not, a lawyer with years of experience, evaluation, is going to be close to what you are likely to obtain in court. Insurance adjusters can also be experienced. Some have settled thousands of claims. Even if the specific adjuster has not he will have coworkers with vast experience. If the adjuster and the layer know each other well enough then the adjuster will know that he cannot fool the lawyer.Through negotiations, both parties will reach a settlement offer that can be passed on to the client. The client is not bound by the insurance company’s settlement offer, as the settlement decision is left up to the client, not the insurance company and/or lawyer.

    It is important the client listens to his/her lawyer with regard to any advice concerning a settlement offer, whether favorable or not. Sometimes the insurance company makes offers that seem unacceptable to the attorney, however, the attorney is obliged to at least present that offer to the client. The attorney will then present the pros and cons of all offers to the client and will give his opinion whether the client should accept or reject the offer.

    After the attorney’s presentation, the client has the choice as to whether the offer is acceptable or not. Despite having this power of the final say, clients need to remember why they hire an attorney in the first place. Because attorneys have substantial experience in handling these claims, clients should give substantial weight to their attorney’s recommendations. Article on whether client can change mind after case is settled

    How long does it take to settle an accident case

    When we now settle a personal injury claim we must consider and protect medicare’s interests

Automobile Accident Frequently Asked Questions

Auto Accident Attorney Marc J. Atas has compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions. If your question is not answered here, please feel free to contact us the question and we will be happy to answer it.

  • How long for car accident claim to settle?

    Clients often ask how long does it take for a car accident claim to be settled. In fact, typically that’s one of the first questions that clients ask in the initial interview. I give clients the same answer each time. “It depends.” If the insurance company accepts responsibility immediately, and the if client’s injuries are relatively minor and if I receive all the medical bills in a relatively short period of time and if the insurance company is reasonable in negotiations and calls me back when I call, then the case can settle usually within 30 days after the client’s treatment has completed. However, there’s a lot if’s in this particular sentence and for that reason while some cases can settle within two months of the accident other cases can take years before the case is resolved by the courts. See attached blog for more detail.

     

  • What is a PIP waiver?

    A PIP waiver occurs when the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident does not have PIP coverage. 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.

    In order for a PIP waiver to be valid, the insurance company must send written notice explaining what PIP is and the cost. A pip waiver must be in writing and on a form approved by the insurance commissioner.When an accident happens and the insurance company can not produce a copy of the signed waiver form, then the insurance company can not prevent you from filing a PIP claim, even if you remember signing one.

    The PIP waiver is binding on all named insureds, the listed drivers on the policy, members of the insureds family residing in insureds household and who are sixteen years old or older.

    PIP waivers continue even when the policy is renewed.

    As a general, PIP waivers should not be signed unless you absolutely cannot afford the coverage. The medical and lost wage coverage provided is helpful if you are involved in an accident and relatively inexpensive.

  • I was in a car accident and the air bags in my car didn’t deploy. Do I have a case against the car manufacturer?

    That depends, as there are several factors that dictate whether an air bag will deploy in a collision. 65 to 90 percent of vehicles on the road in the U.S. have some degree of electronic data recorder (EDR). Contents of your EDR should be downloaded and preserved. If the circumstances of your accident were such that the airbags should have deployed, you very well may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer.

    According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, an estimated 28 million vehicles in this country may have defective airbags that can explode when they deploy and spray passenger with metal shrapnel, causing severe injury and even death. A massive nationwide recall is now in effect for Takata airbags after years of partial and regional recalls.

    Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people. (Yu Nakajima/Kyodo News via AP)

    Takata’s inflators can explode with too much force when they fill up an air bag, spewing out shrapnel. Apart from the fatalities, they’re responsible for at least 180 injuries worldwide. So far 100 million inflators have been recalled worldwide, the largest automotive-related recall in U.S. history. That includes 69 million in the U.S., affecting 42 million vehicles.

     

    The process could take years. One of Takata’s lawyers, Nobuaki Kobayashi, said it was too early to estimate the total eventual cost of the recalls and would not confirm Japanese media reports that they exceeded 1 trillion yen ($9 billion).

     

    Takata and the automakers were slow to address the problem with the inflators despite reports of deaths and injuries. Eventually they were forced to recall tens of millions of vehicles. The scope of the recalls means some car owners face lengthy waits for replacement parts, meanwhile driving cars with air bags that could malfunction in a crash.

    The problems stem from use of the explosive chemical ammonium nitrate in the inflators used to deploy air bags in a crash. The chemical can deteriorate when exposed to hot and humid air and burn too fast, blowing apart a metal canister.

    Attorneys for those injured by the inflators worry that $125 million won’t be enough to fairly compensate victims, many of whom have serious facial injuries from metal shrapnel.

    The Takata bankruptcy should not affect the pending claims against the car manufacturers.

  • Can I still win my case if my memory of the accident now conflicts with things I might have said at the time of the accident?

    It’s very common for people to say things at the time of an incident that they later realize were inaccurate. Sometimes, a witness may misstate what you said about how the incident took place. You might have a hard time explaining how it is that you now remember things differently than you did at the time of the incident, but if you consult with an attorney, he or she will have experience handling such a situation, and can help find support for your side of the story.

    Often there is a dispute about how the accident happened. Both sides tell the story in such a way that if their story were true, then they would not be at fault. Most of the time when there are conflicting stories, it is not likely that both parties are correct in their assessment about what happened. While some people do lie in order to avoid being responsible for the other person’s damage, more often than not the parties just remember the facts differently. It is not unusual to have cases were each side differs in what happened and each side has independent witnesses who also differ as to what happened in a case. For these situations, that is why they have courts to try and resolve the situation. At trial a good Baltimore Injury lawyer, can through direct and cross examination, explore the:

    (1) the witness’s behavior on the stand and way of testifying;

    (2) the witness’s opportunity to see or hear the things about which testimony was given;

    (3) the accuracy of the witness’s memory;

    (4) did the witness have a motive not to tell the truth?;

    (5) does the witness have an interest in the outcome of the case?;

    (6)  was the witness’s testimony consistent?;

    (7) was the witness’s testimony supported or contradicted by other evidence?; and

    (8) whether and the extent to which the witness’s testimony in the court differed from the statements made by the witness on any previous occasion.

  • Can I pursue an accident claim against the Federal Government, State of Maryland, Local Counties or City of Baltimore, Post Office, Maryland Transit Administration or a local School Board?

    Answer: Claims against the Federal Government, State of Maryland, Local Counties or City of Baltimore, Post Office, Maryland Transit Administration or a local School Board can be complicated and have many built in traps for the unwary. Each branch of government has it own requirements as to when the deadline to receive notice accrues, who is to receive said notice, when suit can be filed if the matter is not resolved and the statute of limitations that applies to each cause of action. Each government entity has its own set of claim forms. Each government entity has its own set of steps that must be rigorously followed. Failure to follow these steps and time limits may result in your claim being denied or barred altogether. See the following blog articles:

    Injured in a car accident caused by a Howard County police officer or other Howard County employees

    Injured in a car accident caused by a Montgomery County police officer or other Montgomery County employees

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Frederick County Board of Education employee

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Harford County Board of Education employee

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a County Board of Education employee in Maryland

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Howard County Board of Education employee

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Baltimore County Board of Education employee

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Anne Arundel County Board of Education employee

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Baltimore City Board of Education employee

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Prince Georges County Board of Education employee

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Montgomery County Board of Education employee

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) bus, mobility bus, Marc Train, light rail, and or metro subway.

    TOP 20 FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN INVOLVED IN A CAR ACCIDENT WITH A STATE OF MARYLAND VEHICLE

    Injured in a Car accident caused by a Prince Georges County police officer or other Prince Georges County employees.

    Car Accident Caused by a Baltimore City Police Officer or Other Baltimore City Employees

    Can a Maryland State Employee Sue The State Of Maryland When Involved in a Car Accident?

     

  • How much do car accident lawyers charge?

    There is no standard fee that a car accident lawyer can charge his client in order to answer the question, How much do car accident lawyers charge? It is against the law, for lawyers to collude and agree that every lawyer in a State would charge the same fee for the same service. Under Maryland law while there is no minimum fee for a car accident case or automobile accident case, the Courts as well as the attorney grievance commission has made it clear that an attorney fee should not be unreasonable and seems to have defined unreasonable as any fee greater than 40% contingency fee plus expenses. Therefore, the answer to the question, how much do car accident lawyers charge? can be complicated

    Most people involved in a car accident want to know How much do car accident lawyers charge? Most people involved in a car accident cannot afford to pay an attorney by the hour to represent them in a car accident case. If the lawyer charged by the hour at the going rate of $20.00 per hour to as high as $450.00 per hour and asked for a Retainer up front (for instance $2500.00 up front), most clients would not be able to afford to pay the retainer or the cost per hour.

    In order to solve the problem of the little guy fighting the big insurance company, the contingency fee arrangement has answered the question How much do car accident lawyers charge? A contingency fee means that if there is no recovery in the client’s case then there will be no fee. If there is a recovery in the client’s case than the fee will be a percentage of whatever the client recovers. No money is paid by the client until the end of the case and only paid if money is won.

    How much do car accident lawyers charge? In addition to the contingency fee, most, if not all lawyers also expect    to be reimbursed, for expenses incurred in order to prove or win your case.

     

  • What is a wrongful death claim in a Maryland accident claim?

    When an accident results in the death of an innocent victim, there are two types of claims that can be filed by the family of the deceased, a wrongful death claim and a survival action. The wrongful death statute and the survival statute have different purposes. These causes of action are brought by different persons. The damages are recovered for different reasons. The causes of action, though growing out of the same wrongful act, are entirely different. The wrongful death statute purpose is to provide the decedent’s relatives with recovery for lost support or benefits that would have been provided to them had the decedent not died because of another’s negligence. The survival statute purpose is to provide for the recovery of damages incurred by the deceased during their life that would have been recoverable had they survived. A loss to the decedent’s estate in a survival action concerns only damages sustained by the decedent, not for damages sustained by the decedent’s relatives which are covered by a wrongful death action brought by a Baltimore wrongful death lawyer.

    Maryland’s wrongful death statute allows certain relatives of a victim who died to bring a cause of action for injuries to them as a result of the death. The damages recoverable under a wrongful death claim include pecuniary losses to the claimant as a result of the decedent’s death, such as medical and funeral expenses, emotional pain and suffering, and loss of support, as well as non-pecuniary damages. The wrongful death statutes purpose is to provide decedent’s relatives with an award for the lost support that they would have received had the decedent not died.

    Whereas, the purpose of the survival statute is to provide for the recovery of damages, sustained by the decedent in life, which the decedent could have recovered had he survived.

    Separate Causes of Action Under Each Claim· A wrongful death action and a survival action, though growing out of the same wrongful or negligent act, are two separate causes of action. An action for wrongful death is a cause of action, that can be brought by relatives of the decedent. A survival action is an existing cause of action that survives the decedent and can be pursued by the personal representative on the decedent’s behalf.

     

  • What Money Can I Recover As a Result of a Truck, Motorcycle Or Baltimore Car Accident?

    The first item of damage in a car accident is the damage to your motor vehicle. Motor vehicle damages has three parts.

    Actual physical damage to the vehicle. You have the absolute right to have your vehicle fixed at the shop of your choice. You have a right to require the shop to use parts that will not void your manufacturer’s warranty. If the parts the insurance company wants to use are of equal quality to manufacturers parts, you may require manufacturers parts but would have to pay the difference in costs.

    You are entitled to a rental car with a model comparable to the one you were driving at the time of the accident

    If as a result of the accident, even after your vehicle has been repaired, the value of the vehicle has diminished because it now has a history of being involved in an accident, thereby lessening of the value of the vehicle, then you can present a diminished value claim. In order to make a diminished value claim, it is necessary to obtain an expert in order to calculate what the diminished value is.

    The Second item of damage in a car accident is the damage to your body.

    You’re entitled to be reimbursed for any lost wages. If you miss any time from work as result of the accident because you are physically or mentally unable, then you can be reimbursed for the lost time. If you’re not able to get to work because you don’t have transportation due to the accident than you should be reimbursed for your lost wages. If you are permanently unable to return back to the type of work you were doing at the time of the accident, then damages should be awarded for any loss of earning capacity. If you lose your job because you are not able to return to work before the employer needs to replace you, then you should be compensated for the loss of the job.

    You’re entitled to be reimbursed for any medical expenses including medical expenses in the past incurred up to the time the case is settled including chiropractors in physical therapy any x-rays and doctors, etc.

    If you need treatment in the future on a periodic basis for chiropractors in physical therapy any x-rays and doctors, etc. as recommended by your doctor, then it would be necessary to retain a life care planner to calculate those future costs and attempt to collect them.

    The last piece of the puzzle is called pain-and-suffering. Pain-and-suffering is usually the biggest piece of a settlement. Pain-and-suffering is reimbursement for the physical and emotional pain incurred prior to the case being settled as well as physical and emotional pain incurred in the future. Pain and suffering can include any disability, scaring, loss of consortium, which is how it affected your marriage and inconvenience, how the accident changed your life during treatment time, and perhaps for the rest of your life.

     

  • What is My Maryland Car Accident Worth?

    How does a lawyer know what is my car accident or personal injury case worth? Does the lawyer just pick a number out of the air? Does the lawyer make it up? Can I just multiply the medical times three? What is the magic secret?

    I have been evaluating, settling, and trying auto accident and personal injury claims for over 38 years. The methods I have used has changed over the years as insurance company methods and verdicts have changed. Juries attitudes over the years change and tend to run in cycles. Juries can be very conservative for a period of years and then times may change. As a result, insurance companies as well as lawyers must change in order to adapt to the times. When I first started practicing law, insurance companies would add up the medicals and multiply the medicals by three and add in the lost wages.

    As insurance companies started having good success trying cases, they developed a computer system called Colossus. Colossus is a computer program with information from all of the country and the insurance companies use Colossus to evaluate a claim.

    Even though the insurance company uses Colossus to standardize their evaluation of the claim, a good car accident lawyer uses his own expertise and experience in order to evaluate the claim.

    There are so many factors that a good car accident lawyer will consider in order to evaluate a claim. Clients insist there must be a formula, but there is not. No one really knows what a judge or jury will award in a case if the case goes to trial. But an experienced trial lawyer will have a feel for what impresses a jury and what does not impress them. There are hundreds of factors to consider.

     

     

  • How do I get my vehicle repaired?

    If you are involved in an accident and 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.

    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.

    When your own insurance company fixes the vehicle under the collision section of your policy, this can result in your insurance rates going up in the future unless your insurance company is able to recoup the money they paid from the other insurance company.

    Decision regarding getting the vehicle repaired usually need to be made quickly.If the damage is relatively minor and the vehicle is repairable, then it would be prudent to wait until the at fault drivers insurance company has accepted responsibility. If the vehicle is not drivable, but it is not in a tow lot and you are not being charged storage, then you can either wait a reasonable period until the other insurance company accepts liability or proceed under your own insurance. While tho other parties insurance will provide a rental once they accept responsibility, your own insurance company will not provide a rental unless you purchased rental coverage. In addition if it is determined that the at fault driver has no insurance, then your insurance company will fix your vehicle under the uninsured motorist portion of your policy and will also provide a rental even if you do not have rental coverage under your insurance policy.

    If your vehicle is in a tow lot, then the decision about which insurance to use becomes more immediate. If the Insurance for the at fault driver takes to long to make a liability decision as to who was at fault or you cannot determine who was at fault because you need the police report or to contact witnesses, then if you have collision coverage under your own policy,let your own insurance can take care of the tow and storage charges, car damages as well as a rental if you have that coverage until the at fault parties responsibility can be determined. If you do not have collision coverage , then you need to  pay the tow bill and storage charges quickly yourself. The reason you should not wait more than a couple of days when the car is in a storage lot is because, even if the other insurance company accepts liability, they will only be resonsible for storage charges for a reasonable period of time which is usually a couple of days. If the car is left in storage for more than a few days, then you may be responsible for the balance of the storage bill. In addition if the vehicle is in a government run tow lot, it may be auctioned off after in is in storage for more than 30 days.

    Once the vehicle is in the shop to be repaired, normally the insurance company will authorize a rental car until the car is fixed.

     

  • How to Prove Uninsured Motorist In Maryland

    Md. COURTS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS Code Ann. § 10-921 (2011)

    § 10-921. Burden of proof in uninsured motorist coverage actions.
    (a) In general. — In an action against an insurer or the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund under a policy providing uninsured motor vehicle liability coverage, the person asserting the uninsured status of a motor vehicle shall have the burden to prove that status. (more…)

  • HOW DOES THE INSURANCE DETERMINE THE VALUE OF A TOTAL LOSS ?

     When your vehicle is involved in a serious accident, you may find out that the insurance company has decided to declare your vehicle a total loss. Whether an Insurance Company declares a vehicle a total loss is governed by Maryland law and is not arbitrarily left up to the Insurance Company. A vehicle is a total loss according to Maryland Law if [(9) “Total loss” means the condition of a motor vehicle for which:(a) The cost of repairs equals or exceeds:(i) The actual cash value of the motor vehicle as calculated in accordance with Regulation .04 of this chapter; or(ii) A percentage of the actual cash value of the motor vehicle established by the insurer and calculated in accordance with Regulation .04 of this chapter; or(b) The total cost to repair the motor vehicle, plus the estimated cost of potential repairs from hidden damage, plus any anticipated rental coverage, may equal or exceed:(i) The actual cash value of the motor vehicle as calculated in accordance with Regulation .04 of this chapter; or(ii) A percentage of the actual cash value of the motor vehicle established by the insurer and calculated in accordance with Regulation .04 of this chapter.

    What happens if I do not want my vehicle totaled?

    The process seems arbitrary when dealing with the Insurance Company on the issue of the value for the total loss of your vehicle. However it should not be arbitrary and there is a specific procedure and formula spelled out in the Code of Maryland Regulations. Rather than following the requirements of the State regulation the Insurance Companies have been hiring outside vendors who allegedly go on the internet and find similar vehicles for sale. Often if you follow up on their paperwork you realize that few if any of the alleged vehicles are actually for sale. In addition  state regulations do not recognize the insurance company outside vendor method of evaluating total losses.

    The Code of Maryland Regulation Maryland Insurance administration section:31.15.12.02B9 defines when a vehicle is a total loss:

    (9) “Total loss” means the condition of a motor vehicle for which:

    (a) The cost of repairs equals or exceeds:

    (i) The actual cash value of the motor vehicle as calculated in accordance with Regulation .04 of this chapter; or

    (ii) A percentage of the actual cash value of the motor vehicle established by the insurer and calculated in accordance with Regulation .04 of this chapter; or

    (b) The total cost to repair the motor vehicle, plus the estimated cost of potential repairs from hidden damage, plus any anticipated rental coverage, may equal or exceed:

    (i) The actual cash value of the motor vehicle as calculated in accordance with Regulation .04 of this chapter; or

    (ii) A percentage of the actual cash value of the motor vehicle established by the insurer and calculated in accordance with Regulation .04 of this chapter.

                    In laymen’s terms a vehicle is a total loss when the value of the vehicle is less than the cost to repair the vehicle.

    Code of Maryland Regulation Maryland Insurance administration section:31.15.12.03 thru 31.15.12.07 provide regulations on how to determine the value of a total loss and Insurance Companies must follow these regulations or be subject to penalties from the Insurance Commissioner. 1. An offer on a total loss must be made within 10 days of an Insurance company accepting liability. 2. The insurer’s minimum offer, subject to applicable deductions, shall be: A. The total of: (1) The retail value for a substantially similar motor vehicle from a nationally recognized valuation manual or from a computerized data base that produces statistically valid fair market values for a substantially similar vehicle as defined in Regulation .02B(7) of this regulation; and (2) Regardless of whether the claimant retains salvage rights, the applicable taxes and transfer fees pursuant to COMAR 11.11.05; or B. The total of: (1) A quotation for a substantially similar motor vehicle obtained by or on behalf of the insurer from a qualified dealer at a location reasonably convenient to the claimant; and (2) Regardless of whether the claimant retains salvage rights, the applicable taxes and transfer fees pursuant to COMAR 11.11.05.

    Insurance companies regularly violate this provision by refusing to use Kelly Blue Book or NADA evaluations or failing to at least take these into consideration when valuing a total loss. They say they are complying by using an outside service that represents a computerized data base that produces statistically valid fair market values for a substantially similar vehicle, however it does not appear to be a data base but a system that compares values by making calls. Further rarely is a quotation from a qualified dealer at a location reasonably convenient to the claimant.

    1. Once a total loss offer is made the Insurance company must provide you the basis for the offer including any deductions made for the condition of the vehicle and mileage deductions.
    2. You as the Owner of the vehicle have a right to reject the Total loss offer and make a counter offer based upon the following factors: (a) Dealer quotations for a substantially similar motor vehicle; (b) Advertisements for a substantially similar motor vehicle; or (c) Any other source of valuation for a substantially similar motor vehicle.
    3. If an insurer rejects a claimant’s counteroffer for the total loss made pursuant to §A(2) of this regulation, the insurer shall, within 5 business days, send to the claimant a written explanation in clear and understandable language of why the information relied on by the claimant in the counteroffer does not provide a more accurate valuation than the information relied on by the insurer in its offer.

    If you are not happy with the Insurance Company offer for your total loss claim than you should contact dealers in your area for a written estimate asking them what they would sell a car just like yours was before the accident if they had one on their lot. If the dealer has a similar car in similar condition and mileage on their lot, than that would be the best evidence of total loss value. Finally if all else fails, you can look in the newspaper or on the internet for vehicles similar to yours in mileage and conditions and present them to The Insurance Company.

    .03 Duties of Insurer Following Determination of Total Loss of Motor Vehicle.

    1. The deadlines set by §§B—D of this regulation do not apply to a claim for damage that results in the total loss of a motor vehicle if:

    (1) There is a good faith dispute as to the obligation of the insurer under the contract; or

    (2) There are factors beyond the control of the insurer that prevent the insurer from complying with the deadlines set by §§B—D of this regulation, including a vehicle that is limited in production, specialty in nature, or older than 10 model years at the time of the total loss.

    1. First-Party Claimants—In General. Except as provided in §C of this regulation, within 10 business days after an insurer determines that a motor vehicle of a first-party claimant is a total loss, the insurer shall:

    (1) Make an offer of a cash settlement pursuant to Regulation .04 of this chapter; or

    (2) If authorized by the policy, replace the motor vehicle pursuant to Regulation .07 of this chapter.

    1. First-Party Claimants—Unrecovered Theft Loss. In the case of an unrecovered theft loss of the motor vehicle of a first-party claimant, an insurer shall make an offer for the total loss within the later of:

    (1) 30 days after receipt of notification of a claim; or

    (2) The time provided in the policy.

    1. Third-Party Claimants. Within 10 days after an insurer determines that a motor vehicle of a third-party is a total loss, the insurer shall make an offer of a cash settlement pursuant to Regulation .04 of this chapter.

     

    Total loss

    Code of Maryland Regulation Maryland Insurance administration section:31.15.12.04

    .04 Cash Settlement.

    If an insurer elects to make a cash settlement for the total loss of a motor vehicle pursuant to Regulation .03 of this chapter, the insurer’s minimum offer, subject to applicable deductions, shall be:

    1. The total of:

    (1) The retail value for a substantially similar motor vehicle from a nationally recognized valuation manual or from a computerized data base that produces statistically valid fair market values for a substantially similar vehicle as defined in Regulation .02B(7) of this regulation; and

    (2) Regardless of whether the claimant retains salvage rights, the applicable taxes and transfer fees pursuant to COMAR 11.11.05; or

    1. The total of:

    (1) A quotation for a substantially similar motor vehicle obtained by or on behalf of the insurer from a qualified dealer at a location reasonably convenient to the claimant; and

    (2) Regardless of whether the claimant retains salvage rights, the applicable taxes and transfer fees pursuant to COMAR 11.11.05.

    Code of Maryland Regulation Maryland Insurance administration section:31.15.12.05

     

    Code of Maryland Regulation 31.15.12.02B7

    (7) “Substantially similar motor vehicle” means a motor vehicle that, in comparison to a damaged motor vehicle:

    (a) Is the same make and model as the damaged motor vehicle;

    (b) Is the same year as, or a more recent year than, the damaged motor vehicle;

    (c) Contains at least the same major options as the damaged motor vehicle;

    (d) Is in a condition substantially similar to or better than the condition of the damaged motor vehicle immediately before the damage occurred; and

    (e) Has mileage that is within the greater of 4,000 miles or 10 percent of the mileage on the damaged motor vehicle at the time that the damage occurred unless the vehicle is limited in production, specialty in nature, or older than 10 model years at the time of total loss.

     

    .05 Contents of Settlement Offer.

    1. In General. A settlement offer made by an insurer pursuant to Regulation .04 of this chapter shall:

    (1) State the amount being offered;

    (2) Inform the claimant that, on request from the claimant, the insurer shall provide the claimant in writing:

    (a) A copy of the settlement offer;

    (b) The method used to arrive at the value of the motor vehicle, including identification of any books, manuals, or databases used;

    (c) A detailed explanation of the insurer’s calculation of the motor vehicle’s total loss value, including the calculation of any value added to the motor vehicle by options;

    (d) A list of all deductions that will be made from the value of the motor vehicle; and

    (e) A copy of the inspection guidelines relied on by the insurer to determine the condition of the vehicle at the time of the loss; and

    (3) Inform the claimant that the claimant may, in writing, reject the settlement offer and make a counteroffer in accordance with Regulation .06 of this chapter.

    1. If a claimant makes a request under §A(2) of this regulation, the insurer shall provide a response within 7 business days of the date of the request.

     

    Code of Maryland Regulation Maryland Insurance administration section:31.15.12.06

    .06 Response by Claimant to Settlement Offer.

    1. In General. After receipt of a settlement offer, a claimant may:

    (1) Accept the offer; or

    (2) In writing, reject the offer and make a counteroffer based on:

    (a) Dealer quotations for a substantially similar motor vehicle;

    (b) Advertisements for a substantially similar motor vehicle; or

    (c) Any other source of valuation for a substantially similar motor vehicle.

    1. Duty of Insurer. If an insurer rejects a claimant’s counteroffer made pursuant to §A(2) of this regulation, the insurer shall, within 5 business days, send to the claimant a written explanation in clear and understandable language of why the information relied on by the claimant in the counteroffer does not provide a more accurate valuation than the information relied on by the insurer in its offer.

    Code of Maryland Regulation Maryland Insurance administration section:31.15.12.07

    .07 Replacement of Motor Vehicle.

    If an insurer elects to replace a motor vehicle pursuant to Regulation .03B(2) of this chapter and the insurance policy provides authority for the replacement as an acceptable method of settlement, the insurer shall provide the claimant with a motor vehicle that is:

    1. A substantially similar motor vehicle;
    2. Immediately available; and
    3. Subject to any deductible, paid for by the insurer.

     

     

     

     

     

  • CAN I MAKE A DIMINISHED VALUE CLAIM?
    1. What is a diminished value claim?

    If your car is in a serious accident, which requires substantial repairs, and despite those repairs, the car is worth less after successful repairs, than the car was worth before the accident took place you may be entitled to make a diminished value claim. Obvious examples include frame damage done to a new car. A purchaser of a used car is not willing to pay as much for a used car with previous frame damage even if repaired as they would for the same used car with no prior accident history. While it seems logical that this would be true for all cars that have previously been in an accident, the diminished value claim is the exception rather than the rule.

    1. Will the Insurance Company automatically offer the diminished value claim as part of the offer for your property damage?

    The simple answer is no!  An insurance company will never bring up the issue of diminished value unless asked. More likely even if suggested, they will deny the remedy applies. However more insurance companies now have a specific unit that now deals exclusively with diminished value claims. For the Insurance companies that do not have a diminished value claim unit, it can be difficult to negotiate the diminished value claim.

    1. How do you prove a diminished value claim?

    The best way to prove a diminished value claim is to hire an automobile appraiser who has an expertise in evaluating diminished value claims. The insurance company has appraisers who do these estimates for the insurance company and you should have an appraiser that does the same thing for your side. Just like any other injury this is not an agreed upon science and each side is likely to have a different opinion. The insurance company opinion is likely to be favorable to the insurance company so you need an appraiser likely to be favorable to your position.

    1. When should I make a diminished value claim?

    Hiring an expert can be costly ($350.00 or more), so you need to make sure the claim is not frivolous. Factors favorable to a successful diminished value claim include:

    1. The newer the car the more likely prior damage will affect the future value of the car
    2. The more extensive the damage
    3. Body damage vs. frame or mechanical damage
    4. Make of car
    5. The most relevant Maryland case on diminished value claims is William Kruvant v. Christopher Dickerman ,18 Md App 1,  305 A.2d 227(1973)

    The measure of damages applied to a motor vehicle which has not been entirely destroyed has been clearly enunciated. In Taylor v. King, 241 Md. 50, 54-55, 213 A.2d 504, 507 (1965), the Court of Appeals said:

    “… the rule in Maryland with respect to the measure of damages for injury to a motor vehicle, which has not been entirely destroyed, is the reasonable cost of the repairs necessary to restore it to substantially the same condition that it was in before the injury, provided the cost of repairs is less than the diminution in market value due to the injury. And when the cost of restoring a motor 3*3 vehicle to substantially the same condition is greater than the diminution in market value, the measure of damages is the difference between its market value immediately before and immediately after the injury.” (Footnote omitted.)

    While Taylor establishes the standard by which we measure damages, it is silent as to burden of proof. It tells us that in order to determine the amount of recovery it is necessary to know at least three facts: the cost of repairs, the value of the vehicle immediately before the injury, and the value of the vehicle immediately after the injury. But it does not tell us whether the owner of the damaged vehicle or the party who caused the damage must prove those facts.

    Supported by the concurrence of textwriters and other state courts, we conclude that the appropriate rule with respect to the burden of proof in a case involving damage to a motor vehicle which has not been destroyed is that the owner of the damaged vehicle has the burden of proving his damage, and may do so by proving either the cost of repairs or the diminution in the value of the vehicle after the damage in order to establish a prima facie case. The party causing the damage then has the burden of showing that the plaintiff’s evidence is not the proper measure of damages by offering evidence that the option not pursued by the owner would cost him less.

    The appellee contends that certain language in Fred Frederick Motors v. Krause, 12 MdApp. 62, 277 A.2d 464 (1971), has determined the issue and has placed the burden 7*7 of proving both the cost of repairs and the value of the vehicle immediately before and after the collision on the plaintiff. We do not agree. In Krause, this Court recognized that the language of the Taylor requirement, that the repairs restore the automobile to “substantially the same condition” that it was in before the injury, neither defined nor described fully that condition. The Court noted that the phrase was susceptible to two interpretations: either the car could be restored to its previous physical appearance and mechanical function, or it could be restored to its market value before the injury. In an effort to clarify Taylor, the Court said,

    “Therefore, if the plaintiff can prove that after repairs his vehicle has a diminished market value from being injured, then he can recover in addition to the cost of repairs the diminution in market value, provided the two together do not exceed the diminution in value prior to the repairs.” 12 MdApp. at 66-67, 277 A.2d at 467. (Emphasis added.)

    In Krause, the Court was concerned only with an explication of the measure of damages enunciated in Taylor and not with an assessment of the burden of proof.

    While the Krause rule does require the owner of the damaged vehicle to prove diminuted market value after repairs, it contains no such requirement with respect to proof that the cost of repairs coupled with the diminution in market value does not exceed the diminution in value prior to the repairs. Indeed, in our view, for the reasons set forth above, when a plaintiff has established a prima facie case by proving his damage, according to one acceptable measure of damage, it becomes the obligation of the defendant to offer evidence that the damage would be less under a different acceptable measure of damage.

    In the instant case, the appellants sued for the cost of repairs, loss of the use of the vehicle, and a decrease in the value of the vehicle after repairs. The appellee admitted negligence, and the sole issue of damages was tried to a jury with Judge James F. Couch, Jr. presiding. It appears from 8*8 the record that the appellants had purchased their 1960 Mercedes Benz 220 SE coupe on May 22, 1969, approximately three weeks prior to the accident. They paid $2,400 for it, which was assumed to be its value immediately before the accident. After the accident, the appellants were charged $1,820.29 for repairs associated with the accident, an amount which a qualified expert testified was fair and reasonable. They paid $60 for rental of a car during the twelve days the car was being repaired, also an amount which a qualified expert testified was fair and reasonable. The appellants introduced no evidence as to the market value of the automobile immediately after the accident and before the repairs. They unsuccessfully attempted to qualify an expert to testify as to the value of the car after repairs. At the conclusion of the appellants’ case, Judge Couch ruled that the appellants had not established a prima facie case with respect to damages for injury to the vehicle or diminution of the value of the car after repairs and directed a verdict for $61: $60 for loss of use of the vehicle during the period of repair and $1 nominal damages. We remand the case for retrial as to the amount of damages for injury to the vehicle under the principles set forth herein.

    With respect to appellant’s claim for damages for the diminution in the value of the vehicle after repairs, one further issue should be resolved for the guidance of the lower court. Maryland Rule 1085. The question concerns the qualification of the expert witness offered by the appellants to testify on the diminuted value after repairs.

    In Pennsylvania Thresherman and Farmers’ Mutual Casualty Insurance Co. v. Messenger, 181 Md. 295, 302, 29 A.2d 653, 656 (1943), the Court of Appeals said:

    “It is a general rule of evidence, quite liberally applied by the courts of this country, that anyone familiar with the value of property is competent to testify as to its value. If a person shows that he has sufficient personal knowledge of motor vehicles to make relevant his opinion regarding the value of the motor vehicle in question, the credibility and 9*9 weight of his testimony are for the consideration of the jury. Alabama Power Co. v. Armour & Co., 207 Ala. 15, 92 So. 111.”

    In commenting upon the type and degree of knowledge which a witness must possess in order to be entitled to testify on the value of property, Wigmore states:

    “The uncertainty arises from the fact that observation or knowledge of a thing involves, in these instances, two elements: acquaintance with the object or article itself, and acquaintance with the class of things into which it is desired to put the object. For example, knowledge of the value of a horse involves, first, a knowledge of the values of the different grades of horses, and, secondly, knowledge of the appearance and qualities of the particular horse, and the operation of estimating its value consists in comparing it with the several possible classes or grades and then placing it in one of them. It follows that the observation or knowledge necessary in such cases is twofold, — knowledge of values generally or the conditions affecting values, and knowledge of the thing to be valued.” Wigmore on Evidence, § 558 at 638 (3d ed. 1940).

    In the instant case, Mr. Samuel Ladden, the owner and operator of the automobile repair shop at which appellants’ car was repaired, qualified as an expert in the repair of automobiles and testified as to the cost of repairs. The appellants then attempted to qualify him as an expert to testify on the value of the vehicle after repairs. Mr. Ladden testified that in addition to having been in the repair business for some 21 years, he also was a licensed used car salesman and had run a used car lot for 13 years. He said that at the time of the trial he had about 20 cars for sale, including a number of Porsches and Volkswagens, a number of Chevrolets “ranging from 1956 through 1969,” a 1971 Dodge Coronet and “a couple of MGs.” He stated that 10*10 incidental to the type of work he did, he had become involved in the inspection and appraisal of certain types of unique and classic automobiles and that he had himself purchased and resold such cars on a number of occasions and had assisted his customers in obtaining such automobiles. He indicated that he thought he was familiar with the market values of used motor vehicles in his locality. On cross-examination, Mr. Ladden was asked when he had last had a 1960 Mercedes Benz 220 SE coupe on his lot for sale. He replied, “I have never had one on my lot for sale, and they are very, very rare.” Immediately thereafter, Judge Couch sustained appellee’s objection to the witness’s qualification as an expert to testify to the diminution in the value of appellants’ vehicle after repairs.

    We feel that Mr. Ladden was qualified to offer his opinion as to the value of the vehicle after repairs. His testimony established that the 1960 Mercedes Benz 220 SE coupe was a rare and unique automobile; that he had knowledge of and acquaintance with the class of unique and classic automobiles and their values generally in the locality; and that, having repaired the vehicle in question, he had intimate knowledge of the condition of the specific automobile to be valued. The fact that he himself had neither purchased nor sold a 1960 Mercedes Benz 220 SE coupe properly affects the weight accorded his opinion, but it does not affect his competency as an expert and should not have disqualified him. Smith v. Armstrong, 121 Mont. 377, 198 P.2d 795 (1948)Leider v. Pitock, 15 N.J. Super. 592, 83 A.2d 796, 797 (1951)Wigmore on Evidence, § 714 at 46, § 716 at 54 (Chadbourn Rev.); Jones on Evidence, § 14:50 at 730 (6th ed. 1972). Nor should his failure to indicate knowledge of comparable sales bar his testimony. First National Realty Corp. v. State Roads Comm’n., 255 Md. 605, 613-14, 258 A.2d 419, 423-24 (1960)Turner v. State Roads Comm’n., 213 Md. 428, 433, 132 A.2d 455, 457 (1957). In our view, the experience and knowledge of Mr. Ladden was such that he was entitled to testify. We have no doubt that his opinion would aid the trier of fact. Consolidated Mechanical Contractors Inc. v. Ball, 263 Md. 328, 338, 283 A.2d 154, 158 (1971)Sun Cab Co. 11*11 v. Walston, 15 MdApp. 113, 141-43, 289 A.2d 804, 820-21 (1972), aff’d, 267 Md. 559, 298 A.2d 391 (1973).

     

    241 Md. 50 (1965)

    213 A.2d 504

    TAYLOR
    v.
    KING

    [No. 7, September Term, 1965.]

    Court of Appeals of Maryland.

    Decided December 21, 1965.

    51*51 The cause was argued before PRESCOTT, C.J., and HAMMOND, HORNEY, OPPENHEIMER and McWILLIAMS, JJ.

    Hugh A. McMullen and William H. Geppert, with whom were Gunter & Geppert on the brief, for the appellant.

    Fred H. Anderson, with whom were Anderson, Mullen & Bowen on the brief, for the appellee.

    HORNEY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

    This appeal, arising out of a suit for damages resulting from a collision of motor vehicles, presents a question as to which method should be used in computing the amount of damages for injury to an automobile which was not completely destroyed.

    The automobile operated by a son of William R. King (the appellee) was struck in the rear and extensively damaged by a motor vehicle operated by George N. Taylor (the appellant). Since no defense was made by the appellant as to his liability, the only question before the lower court was the amount of damages to be awarded the appellee for the injury to his automobile.

    It appears from the record that the appellee had purchased a new automobile about two months prior to the accident for $3192.49 and that at the time of the accident it was worth $3127.43. The only estimate obtained as to the cost of repairing the automobile totaled $1118.21, but the appellee decided not to repair the automobile and sold it for salvage for $975 which was the highest of several offers he received. The lower court entered a judgment of $2182.43 — the difference between the value of the automobile prior to the accident and its value after the accident established by deducting the salvage price from the depreciated value and adding the towing charge of $30.

    The main contention of the appellant is that the lower court erred in awarding damages in that the award should only have been $1148.21 — the estimated cost of repairs plus the towing charge. The appellant asserts that “where a motor vehicle is damaged but can be fully repaired for less than the market value of the automobile after it is repaired, then the true measure of 52*52 damages is the cost of repairing the motor vehicle.” The appellee contends that “the basic rule for the measure of damages for partial destruction of or injury to [an automobile] is the difference in value of the [automobile] immediately before and after the injury but an alternative measure is reasonable cost of repairs necessary to restore it to its former condition.”

    Although the parties have stated different rules, the point of disagreement between them, on the question of the measure of damages, is not which rule should be applied but rather the issue is whether the automobile of the appellee could reasonably have been restored, by repairing it, to substantially the same condition that it was in before the accident. The measure of damages advanced by the parties is said to be the difference between the market value of the automobile immediately before the injury and its market value immediately after the injury if the automobile cannot be “fully repaired,” as the appellant phrased it, or “restored to its former condition,” as the appellee expressed it.

    On the question as to whether the damaged automobile could reasonably have been restored by repairs to substantially the same condition that it was in before the accident, there are insufficient facts to make a determination. The only evidence in the record which is even close to being relevant to the issue is the testimony of the appellee who, in reply to a question as to why he did not have the automobile repaired, stated that “in the case where a frame and body structure have to be straightened to the extent that this car would have to be straightened [he] felt that by straightening those members the car would have been weakened more and would not have been put in a safe acceptable condition for future use.” Although it appears that the appellee was possibly qualified to testify as an expert witness, in view of the fact that he had been for many years the supervisor of maintenance, repairs and purchasing for the trucking division of a trucking company and had had responsibilities in respect to repairing and maintenance of the company vehicles, his testimony was not sufficient positive evidence of whether the automobile could or could not be restored by being repaired to substantially the same condition that it was in before the accident, at reasonable costs. Evidence should have been presented 53*53 as to how extensively the frame and body were damaged and whether these conditions could or could not have been corrected. Since we cannot make a determination of the question of fact, we shall, pursuant to Maryland Rule 871 a, remand the case without affirmance or reversal for the taking of additional evidence limited to the question of whether the automobile could have been substantially restored at reasonable cost by repairing the injury sustained as a result of the collision.

    Although this might be a sufficient disposition of the case under ordinary circumstances, we think that the parties, having asserted conflicting rules of law, are entitled to a concise statement of the law when there is a question as to which method should be used in computing the amount of damages for injury to an automobile which was not completely destroyed. See Rule 885.

    In Western Maryland R.R. v. Martin, 110 Md. 554, 73 Atl. 267 (1909), where injury had been done to household furniture by water which the defendant negligently caused to overflow on to the property of the plaintiff, this Court promulgated the rule that the measure of damages would be the cost of repairing the furniture if it was merely damaged and would be its value at the time of its destruction if it was entirely destroyed.

    In the subsequent case of W.B. & A. Ry. v. Fingles, 135 Md. 574, 109 Atl. 431 (1920), an action brought for damage to an automobile, the Court, in considering a question as to the measure of damages for the injury, said at p. 579 (citing Corpus Juris) that “the measure of damages for injury to personal property, which has not been entirely destroyed, * * * is the cost of repairing the property together with the value of the use of the property during the time it would take to repair it.”

    In Fisher v. City Dairy Co., 137 Md. 601, 113 Atl. 95 (1921), where suit was also brought to recover damages for injury to an automobile, the Court reiterated the rule stated in the Fingles case, as the applicable law, and specifically rejected an instruction which informed the jury “that the true measure of plaintiffs’ damages in this case,” where, as the Court pointed out, the automobile was not destroyed by the collision, and the car was capable of being repaired, at a reasonable cost, was “the 54*54 difference between the value of the plaintiffs’ automobile immediately preceding the accident complained of and its value immediately thereafter.”

    And in Mullan v. Hacker, 187 Md. 261, 49 A.2d 640 (1946), where the action concerned the recovery of damages to an automobile garage as a result of an excavation on adjoining property, it was said that the measure of damages was the cost of repairing the garage if it could be restored to the condition it was in before the injury without cost disproportionate to the injury and that when the cost of restoration is greater than the diminution in market value, the measure of damages is the difference between the value of the property before and after its injury. The rule is as applicable to personal property as it is to real property. See Superior Construction Co. v. Elmo, 204 Md. 1, 102 A.2d 739 (1954).

    Until now, we have not had to consider a case in which there was a possibility that the injured automobile could not be restored to its prior condition.

    The various statements in Martin, Fingles, Fisher and Mullan make it clear that the rule in Maryland[1] with respect to the measure of damages for injury to a motor vehicle, which has not been entirely destroyed, is the reasonable cost of the 55*55repairs necessary to restore it to substantially the same condition that it was in before the injury, provided the cost of repairs is less than the diminution in market value due to the injury. And when the cost of restoring a motor vehicle to substantially the same condition is greater than the diminution in market value, the measure of damages is the difference between its market value immediately before and immediately after the injury. In addition, the measure of damages may include a reasonable allowance for loss of use of the vehicle.

    Remanded without affirmance or reversal for the taking of additional evidence and a redetermination of the amount of damages in conformity with this opinion; the costs to abide the outcome.

    [1] The courts are far from being in accord as to what the rule in this area ought to be. There are several rules and numerous variations of some of them. To discuss them at length and compare the difference between them would require a footnote considerably longer than this opinion which in the end would probably serve no useful purpose. Most of the cases decided prior to 1956 are referred to in the footnotes (70 through 89) to an article on the subject by James Fleming, Jr., entitled DAMAGES IN ACCIDENT CASES, published in 41 Cornell Law Quarterly, at p. 593. Other cases not referred to in the article or decided since publication, include Wright v. Capital Transit Co., 35 A.2d 183 (D.C. Mun. Ct. Appls. 1943)Hemminger v. Scott, 111 A.2d 619 (D.C. Mun. Ct. Appls. 1955)Knox v. Akowskey, 116 A.2d 406 (D.C. Mun. Ct. Appls. 1955)Teitsworth v. Kempski, 127 A.2d 237 (Del. 1956)The Nyland, 164 F. Supp. 741 (D.C. Md. 1958)Falter v. City of Toledo, 158 N.E.2d 893 (Ohio 1959)Alber v. Wise, 166 A.2d 141 (Del. 1960)Sanft v. Haisfield, 178 A.2d 791 (Pa. Super. 1962); and Brewer v. Drain, 192 A.2d 532 (D.C. Ct. of Appls. 1963).

    DIMINISHED VALUE CLAIM IN A CAR ACCIDENT?

     

  • What is PIP?

    PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection and is insurance coverage which is paid by the insurance company for 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. PIP pays medical expenses and/or lost wages up to $2,500.00 unless in your policy PIP benefits exceed $2,500.00. These benefits are paid no matter who is at fault, as long as your policy carries the coverage. If your medical expenses or lost wages exceeds $2,500.00 PIP will not pay anything over the $2,500.00 limit.

    PIP coverage normally covers , if not waived, the owner of the vehicle, any resident relatives of the owner, drivers of the vehicle who have permission of the owner to use the vehicle, guests in the vehicle, passengers in the vehicle, pedestrians struck by the insured vehicle, and persons getting in or out of the vehicle or in close proximity to the vehicle and having a nexus to vehicle.

    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. If you need to collect your lost wages immediately, then inform your Baltimore auto accident attorney that you would like the PIP benefits to be used for your lost wages first, instead of paying the doctors first.

    Not every automobile Insurance policy has PIP coverage.There is no PIP coverage for state owned or local government owned vehicles, taxi cabs and buses.

    In addition PIP coverage can be waived meaning you can tell the insurance company you do not want to but PIP coverage and if you sign a waiver, then there will be no PIP coverage covering your vehicle for the owner of the vehicle and anyone who is a resident relative of the owner of the vehicle.

    Finally there is no pip coverage when the vehicle driven by someone who is involved in an accident that was intentional by the driver, the driver stole the vehicle, the driver had an accident while committing a felony, or the driver was fleeing and eluding the police.

    Medical expenses covered must be reasonable, must be causally related to accident, must be incurred within three years of the accident and must be for healthcare or funeral expenses.

    PIP claims must be presented in writing to the insurance company on PIP forms provided by the insurance company within one year. Failure to file the written claim on the proper form within the one year will result in denial of your PIP claim.

    Pip claims must be paid within 30 days or incur interest charges.Presentation of lost wage or medical claims can easily take 30 days, so if you need the lost wages , you should file for them as quickly as possible.

     

  • Does my lawyer have to pay medical bills or my health insurance company

    Does my lawyer have to pay my medical and hospital bills or my health insurance company from my accident case.

    You may also want to read Rule 1.15(d) of the Rules of Professional Responsibility, which requires an attorney to safeguard property in which the client or a third party has an interest. If the rule applies to your case, you may be hearing from the attorney grievance commission if you comply with the client’s request.

    Check MLRPC 1.15 and the annotations thereto.  AGC v. Mungin, 439 Md. 290, 96 A.3d 122 (2014) is on point, stating that a lawyer violates that rule if, among other things, the lawyer fails to pay a client’s debt from settlement funds.  The word “debt” is far broader than “lien” or “subrogation claim”.  Tell client that if you obey her wishes, your license is in jeopardy. Interpleader is the proper procedure

    You would indeed be “on the hook” if you remit the funds to your client without paying Rawlings or the plan.  The FEHBA plan’s subrogation claim comes from the health insurance contract.  See 5 C.F.R. § 890.106.  Moreover, the subrogation claim is governed by federal law, and not state law.  Id., subsection (m).

    “[I]t is one of the familiar rules of equity that a contract to convey a specific object even before it is acquired will make the contractor a trustee as soon as he gets a title to the thing.”  Barnes v. Alexander, 232 U.S. 117, 121 (1914).  Therefore, your client’s contractual promise to reimburse the health insurer from the tort recovery creates an equitable lien on the recovery to the extent of the insurer’s valid subrogation claim.  See Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic Medical Services, Inc., 547 U.S. 356, 363-68 (2006).

    If you dishonor the lien, then you will be personally liable to the plan.  See Hoffman v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., 232 Md. 51, 56-57 (1963).You would also be in ethical trouble.  See Maryland Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15(d) & (e).Therefore, tell the client that absolutely cannot remit the funds to her in disregard of the Rawlings’s and the plan’s claims.

    Besides, as others have stated, if the client breaches the subrogation contract, the health insurer may dispense with suing the client or you, and may instead simply electronically retract all of the payments that it made to the health care providers in the case, or put your client’s future health benefits in “retention” until it recoups the amount that it claims to be owed.  But neither one of those things will happen, because you will not remit the funds to the client.

    A client should always be advised, if possible, what he or she will “net” from an offered settlement.

    There has been some language in recent Court of Appeals decisions which said that an attorney must pay a client’s “debts” out of a tort recovery, including amounts owed to health care providers.  See, e.g., Attorney Grievance Commission v. Mungin, 439 Md. 290, 308 (2014); Attorney Grievance Commission v. Roberts, 394 Md. 137, 163-64 (2006).  But the language in those cases must be read in context.In those cases, the attorney was supposed to pay the health care providers out of the recovery because the client had instructed or authorized the lawyer to do so.  The attorney then did not do so or unduly delayed in doing so.  Obviously, that behavior is a problem, particularly if the lawyer converts for his own use the money that the client had instructed him to pay to the health care providers.

    But that is a different situation from one in which there is no lien or letter of protection for a particular health care provider, and the client instructs the lawyer not to pay the health care provider.

    Medicare must always be paid back for any medical expenses it paid that are related to the accident

     

     

  • What type of rental car and how long can I keep It?

    What type of rental car am I entitled to and for how long am I entitled to a rental car?

    The simple answer is under Maryland law you are entitled to a replacement vehicle ( rental car) while your vehicle is being repaired comparable to the vehicle you had at the time of the accident. It is not acceptable to provide a compact car when you were driving an SUV at the time of the accident. When your car is involved in a Maryland automobile accident and is not drivable you are entitled to be reimbursed for the cost of a rental car immediately and your right to a rental car shall continue until your car has been repaired. Most insurance companies in the alternative provide a rental car because they are able to provide them at a reduced rate. The length of time for the rental car depends upon the reasonable period of time it will require to fix the vehicle. If it takes time to order parts than that time is included in the period for using a rental car. If your car is drivable then the parts should be ordered in advance by the shop and once the parts have been obtained then the car should be left with the shop for repairs. Issues often arise when the shop provides faulty work or the delay in repairs is due to the fault of the shop. When the delay in repairs is due solely because of the fault of the shop as when the vehicle takes twice as long to repair because the shop has poorly trained workers or too much work and not enough help, than the insurance company may no longer be responsible for the delay and at that point a remedy should be expected from the shop.

    It has long been the assumption, as reflected in the applicable Maryland Civil Pattern Jury Instruction, that “[t]he measure of damages for loss of use is the reasonable rental value of comparable property.”  Maryland Civil Pattern Jury Instruction 10:21(d) (emphasis supplied).  As a New York intermediate appellate court said nearly a hundred years ago, “The practice has obtained in these damaged vehicle cases of allowing the cost of the actual hire of another vehicle similar to that damaged; and this custom has prevailed, we think, largely because the measure of damage is rarely objected to.”  Naughton Mulgrew Motor Car Co. v. Westchester Fish Co., 173 N.Y.S. 437, 438 (N.Y. App. Div. 1918).

    That practice is supported by Maryland’s case law.  Specifically, the requirement that the rental vehicle be “comparable” stems from the general rule that “the measure of damages for injury to personal property, which has not been totally destroyed, ‘is the cost of repairing the property together with the value of the use of the property during the time it would take to repair it.’”  Hopper, McGraw Co., Inc. v. Kelly, 145 Md. 161, 167 (1924) (parentheses omitted), quoting Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Railway Co. v. William A. Fingles, Inc., 135 Md. 574, 579-80 (1920), in turn quoting 17 Corpus Juris, page 877.

    In Weishaar v. Canestrale, 241 Md. 676 (1966), the plaintiff, immediately after the accident, ordered a replacement for his truck that had been “destroyed” in the accident.  Id. at 684.  “Because the body had to be specially fabricated for his use, delivery was not accomplished until five weeks later, during which time, in order to continue his business, he was obliged to hire a truck.”  Id.  During those five weeks, the plaintiff paid $875 to rent a truck.  The defendant contended that the plaintiff was not entitled to recover those expenses.  The Court of Appeals disagreed.  See id. at 684-86.  Quoting a comment to § 927 of the First Restatement of Torts (1939), the Court said that “’damages can properly include an amount for expenses in procuring a necessary substitute or for the value of the use of a substitute until a replacement of the subject matter can be made.’”  Id., 241 Md. at 684.

    One of the cases which the Court cited in its discussion was the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Co. v. Elk Refining Co., 186 F.2d 30 (4th Cir. 1950), in which the court said: “We think that the expense to which the refining company was put in hiring another tractor-trailer unit to take the place of that which had been damaged until the tractor could be repaired and another trailer obtained should have been allowed as an element of damages.”  Id. at 32.

    Courts in other jurisdictions have held that the loss of the use of a motor vehicle is measured by the reasonable rental cost of a comparable motor vehicle.  See Lenz Construction Co. v. Cameron, 674 P.2d 1101, 1103 (Mont. 1984) (the “general measure of loss-of-use damages” is “the reasonable rental value of a comparable machine for the period of time necessary for replacement, regardless of whether another machine is actually rented”); Husebo v. Ambrosia, Ltd., 283 N.W.2d 45, 47 (Neb. 1979) (“the correct measure” of “the reasonable value of the use of the motor vehicle injured while it is being repaired with ordinary diligence” is “that amount which does not exceed either the fair rental value of a vehicle of like or similar nature and performance for a reasonable length of time, or the amount actually paid, whichever is the least”); Roberts v. Pilot Freight Carriers, Inc., 160 S.E.2d 712, 718 (N.C. 1968) (“Ordinarily the measure of damages for loss of use of a business vehicle is not the profits which the owner would have earned from its use during the time he was deprived of it; it is the cost of renting a similar vehicle during a reasonable period for repairs.”); National Dairy Products Corp. v. Jumper, 130 So.2d 922, 923 (Miss. 1961) (“In short, loss of use of a repairable vehicle is measured by the reasonable rental value of a similar unit.  There is one exception, where the owner can show that no substantially similar unit was available for rent.  The burden of proof to establish the exception is upon the person seeking damages. . . .  This measure of damages for loss of use has the virtue of certainty and fairness, in that there can ordinarily be determined specifically the value of the loss of use, by ascertaining the rental value of a similar vehicle.”); Lamb v. R.L. Mathis Certified Dairy Co., 359 S.E.2d 214, 216 (Ga. Ct. App. 1987) (“plaintiff would be entitled to reasonable rental value of a comparable car for a reasonable length of time to have the body repairs completed”); Conley v. Kansas City Railways Co., 259 S.W. 153, 154 (Mo. Ct. App. 1921) (“The measure of damages for the use of the car in plaintiff’s livery business was the cost of hiring such a machine in the market for the period during which the plaintiff was deprived of the use of his own machine.  Plaintiff was not entitled to recover the profits derived from the use of his car in the absence of proof that a similar machine could not be hired in the market at the time.”)

    He is not entitled to recover the rental cost of a more valuable vehicle.  The Court of Appeals said in Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Railway Co. v. William A. Fingles, Inc.supra, 135 Md. at 581:

    If there had been evidence that the automobile hired by the plaintiff was more valuable than the car that was damaged,

    or that the rental value of the hired car was greater than the rental value of the damaged car, or that the rate paid by

    plaintiff for the use of the hired car was unreasonable or excessive, there would have been more ground for complaint.(Emphasis in original.)  In the same sense, the plaintiff here is rightfully entitled to complain if the vehicle with which he is provided is less valuable than the SUV that was damaged, or if the rental value of the hired car is less than the rental value of the SUV.In fact, the plaintiff is not required actually to rent a vehicle in order to recover the reasonable rental cost.  See King v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., 501 N.W.2d 24 (Wis. 1993); Cress v. Scott, 868 P.2d 648 (N.M. 1994); Holmes v. Raffo, 374 P.2d 536, 540-42 (Wash. 1962); Camaraza v. Bellavia Buick Corp., 523 A.2d 669, 671-72 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1987); Warren v. Heartland Automotive Services, Inc., 144 P.3d 73, 78-79 (Kan. Ct. App. 2006); Meakin v. Dreier, 209 So.2d 252 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1968); NaughtonMulgrew Motor Car Co. v. Westchester Fish Co.supra, 173 N.Y.S. at 438-40.  As the Supreme Court of Washington said in this regard:

     

    If we were to hold that a plaintiff who has lost the use of his pleasure automobile, which itself does not have a market

    rental value or pecuniary value to a business, but which does have a usable value to the plaintiff, cannot be compensated

    because he has not hired a substitute automobile, we would be placing upon recovery a condition of financial ability to hire another automobile to take the place of the injured automobile.The law cannot condone such a condition.  He would be denied compensation for his inconvenience resulting from the defendant’s wrongful act.Holmes v. Raffosupra, 374 P.2d at 542.

    241 Md. 676 (1966)

    217 A.2d 525

    WEISHAAR ET AL.
    v.
    CANESTRALE ET AL. (Three Appeals in One Record)

    [No. 171, September Term, 1965.]

    Court of Appeals of Maryland.

    Decided March 11, 1966.

    Immediately after the accident Canestrale ordered a replacement for the truck which had been destroyed. Because the body had to be specially fabricated for his use, delivery was not accomplished until five weeks later, during which time, in order to continue his business, he was obliged to hire a truck. He was permitted, over objection, to show that this cost him, at $175 per week (conceded to be reasonable) a total of $875, which amount the jury included in its verdict under the instructions of the court. Weishaar argues this is reversible error on the part of the trial judge.

    Barnes v. United Railways Co., 140 Md. 14, 116 Atl. 855 (1922) is cited in support of the proposition that when a motor vehicle is totally destroyed, and there is a recovery for its full value, there can be no recovery for loss of use. There was dictum to that effect in Barnes and, generally speaking, it is a correct statement of the law but there is a well recognized exception, which, while we seem not to have had occasion to consider it in the past, is, nevertheless, applicable in the case at bar. In the comment to § 927 of the Restatement, Torts (1939) it is said that “damages can properly include an amount for expenses in procuring a necessary substitute or for the value of the use of a substitute until a replacement of the subject matter can be made * * *.”

    Guido, et al. v. Hudson Transit Lines, 178 F.2d 740 (3rd Cir.1950), in the words of Judge Goodrich, who wrote the court’s opinion, “is an almost perfect moot court case,” and, we might add, singularly apposite to the instant case. The plaintiff there, because of post-war shortages, was not able to buy a new truck for two years. There was no attack upon the reasonableness of plaintiff’s conduct nor the accuracy of his testimony. The same is true in respect of Canestrale. We think the language of Judge Goodrich, which we quote below, states the proper rule to be applied in the case at bar:

    “The rule is well established that the measure of damages for the conversion or destruction of a chattel is the market value of the chattel at the time and place of the conversion or destruction. While this is sometimes 685*685 stated as though it were a rule applicable to vehicles it is a general rule applicable to all kinds of chattels. The justification for it is that this provides a convenient rule of thumb and, in case the article is readily replaceable on the open market, compensates the owner for his loss.

    “The difficulty comes when this convenient rule of thumb is sought to be applied to every case regardless of the circumstances. This the defendant would have us do here and cites authorities which have taken this ironclad view of the matter. [Citing cases.] The fear of allowing `speculative’ damages has scared some courts into applying what Mr. Justice Christiancy years ago called `the certainty of injustice.’ [Allison v. Chandler, 1863, 11 Mich. 542, 555.]

    “The general principle which should govern the matter is quite clear. Damages are supposed to compensate the injured person for the wrong which has been done him. [Restatement, Torts, § 910.] If his loss is greater than the market value of the chattel at the time of its destruction, an owner should, on principle, be allowed additional items which will adequately compensate him unless some of those claimed items are so speculative as to create danger of injustice to the defendant.

    “Here we have the perfect case for the allowance of the additional element of damages. As pointed out above, the plaintiffs’ case removed the possibility of speculation by careful proof which showed not only the possibility of profitable use but an actual contract for that use. This case, therefore, fits perfectly into the statement of the measure of damages set out in Section 927 of the Restatement of Torts.” Id at 742.

  • What if I was not wearing a seat belt at the time of my accident? Can I still recover damages?

    In some states, not buckling up can negate or reduce any potential compensation for damages, on the basis that people suffer more severe and expensive injuries when they’re not wearing seat belts. In other states, this is not the rule. In Maryland the non-use of a seat belt is NOT admissible evidence in injury cases.However Maryland does require the use of a seat belt for any one in the vehicle who is age 16 or above.See the below Maryland seat Belt law.

    Md. TRANSPORTATION Code Ann. § 22-412.3  (2017)

    § 22-412.3. Mandatory seat belt use


       (a) Definitions. —

       (1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

       (2) (i) “Motor vehicle” means a vehicle that is:

             1. Registered or capable of being registered in this State as a Class A (passenger), Class E (truck), Class F (tractor), Class M (multipurpose), or Class P (passenger bus) vehicle; and

             2. Required to be equipped with seat belts under federal motor vehicle safety standards contained in the Code of Federal Regulations.

          (ii) “Motor vehicle” does not include a Class L (historic) vehicle.

       (3) “Outboard front seat” means a front seat position that is adjacent to a door of a motor vehicle.

       (4) (i) “Seat belt” means a restraining device described under § 22-412 of this subtitle.

          (ii) “Seat belt” includes a combination seat belt-shoulder harness.

    (b) Seat belts required. — A person may not operate a motor vehicle unless the person and each occupant under 16 years old are restrained by a seat belt or a child safety seat as provided in § 22-412.2 of this subtitle.

    (c) Passengers. —

       (1) The provisions of this subsection apply to a person who is at least 16 years old.

       (2) Unless a person is restrained by a seat belt, the person may not be a passenger in an outboard front seat of a motor vehicle.

       (3) (i) Unless a person is restrained by a seat belt, the person may not be a passenger in a rear seat of a motor vehicle.

          (ii) A police officer may enforce this paragraph only as a secondary action when the police officer detains a driver of a motor vehicle for a suspected violation of another provision of the Code.

    (d) Physically disabled persons. — If a physician licensed to practice medicine in this State determines and certifies in writing that use of a seat belt by a person would prevent appropriate restraint due to a person’s physical disability or other medical reason, the provisions of this section do not apply to the person.

    (e) Certification of disability. — A certification under subsection (d) of this section shall state:

       (1) The nature of the physical disability; and

       (2) The reason that restraint by a seat belt is inappropriate.

    (f) U.S. Postal Service and contract carriers. — The provisions of this section do not apply to U.S. Postal Service and contract carriers while delivering mail to local box routes.

    (g) Violations not moving violation. — A violation of this section is not considered a moving violation for purposes of § 16-402 of this article.

    (h) Failure to use seat belt. —

       (1) Failure of an individual to use a seat belt in violation of this section may not:

          (i) Be considered evidence of negligence;

          (ii) Be considered evidence of contributory negligence;

          (iii) Limit liability of a party or an insurer; or

          (iv) Diminish recovery for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle.

       (2) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (3) of this subsection, a party, witness, or counsel may not make reference to a seat belt during a trial of a civil action that involves property damage, personal injury, or death if the damage, injury, or death is not related to the design, manufacture, installation, supplying, or repair of a seat belt.

       (3) (i) Nothing contained in this subsection may be construed to prohibit the right of a person to institute a civil action for damages against a dealer, manufacturer, distributor, factory branch, or other appropriate entity arising out of an incident that involves a defectively installed or defectively operating seat belt.

          (ii) In a civil action in which 2 or more parties are named as joint tort-feasors, interpleaded as defendants, or impleaded as defendants, and 1 of the joint tort-feasors or defendants is not involved in the design, manufacture, installation, supplying, or repair of a seat belt, a court shall order separate trials to accomplish the ends of justice on a motion of any party.
  • What determines who is responsible in an automobile accident?

    Figuring out who is at fault in a traffic accident is a matter of deciding who was careless. And for vehicle accidents, there is a set of official written rules telling people how they are supposed to drive and providing guidelines by which liability may be measured. These rules of the road are the traffic laws everyone must learn to pass the driver’s license test. Complete rules are contained in each state’s Vehicle Code, and they apply not only to automobiles but also to motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.

    Figuring out who is at fault in a traffic accident is a matter of deciding who was careless. And for vehicle accidents, there is a set of official written rules telling people how they are supposed to drive and providing guidelines by which liability may be measured. These rules of the road are the traffic laws everyone must learn to pass the driver’s license test. Complete rules are contained in each state’s Vehicle Code, and they apply not only to automobiles but also to motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.

    Car accident claims involving Uber and Lyft.

    The rules of the road are complex. Clients often tell me well he hit me so he is at fault. Who hit whom is usually irrelevant. Clients should never try to handle the case without a lawyer.

    While there are thousands of traffic laws that deal with drivers’ obligations to each other, there are some basic traffic rules which repeatedly appear relevant in determining liability and which a good Baltimore Injury lawyer will know.

    1. Negligence is doing something that a person using reasonable care would not do, or not doing something that a person using reasonable care would do. Reasonable care means that caution, attention or skill a reasonable person would use under similar circumstances.
    2. A reasonable person changes conduct according to the circumstances and the danger that is known or would be appreciated by a reasonable person. Therefore, if the foreseeable danger increases, a reasonable person acts more carefully.
    3. The violation of a statute, which is a cause of plaintiff’s injuries or damages, is evidence of negligence.
    4. Striking a stopped car or a moving car in the rear
    5. If you change lanes and hit another car in the lane you are changing into
    6. If you run a red light and collide with a vehicle that has a green light
    7. If you run a stop sign and collide with a vehicle that did not have a stop sign
    8. If you fail to yield the right of way at a yield sign and collide with a vehicle that did not have a yield sign
    9. If you make a left turn, in front of traffic going in the opposite direction
    10. If you pull from a park position and hit another vehicle on the boulevard
    11. If you pull out of a parking lot or side street and collide with a car on the boulevard
    12. If you stop at a red light and make a right turn on red or go straight after you stop while the light is still red and collide with a vehicle that has a green light
    13. If you stop at the stop sign and then proceed and collide with a vehicle that did not have a stop sign
    14. Crossing the center line
    15. roundabout  road law
    16. speeding

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Should I release my medical records to the driver’s insurance adjuster?

    Insurance companies will usually ask the injured party to sign a release of medical records. Signing a medical release authorizing an insurance company to obtain your medical records is almost always a bad idea. As part of your injury claim for personal injury protection benefits under your own insurance policy, an uninsured motorist claim under your own insurance policy or a liability claim against the at fault drivers insurance company, it will be necessary to provide the insurance company all medical records and medical bills that are related to your case.If you have an attorney who will be representing you in this matter, than the attorney will have you sign a medical authorization allowing your attorney to obtain those records so that there is no reason why the insurance company would also need a release of records.

    If you do not have an attorney for your injury claim, you could allow the insurance company to obtain those records but that is not a good idea.Once you sign a release they may be able to receive any medical record about you whether related to the accident or not.Why would you want an insurance representative who you do not know, having authorization to look at all of your medical history. The better practice would be that if you do not have a lawyer, then again, you should obtain those records and bills and forward them to the insurance company.

    Once you or your lawyer receives those records, they should be read to make sure they are related to the accident and do not contain information unrelated to the accident and that you do not want the entire world to know.

    In addition medical records are notorious for having false information in them. It is important that the records be closely scrutinized before sending to the insurance company.

    If you give a blank authorization to the insurance company then they can obtain all of your medical history whether that is related to the accident or not.

     

  • What happens if the cause of the automobile accident is not clear?

    It is sometimes difficult to say that one particular act caused an accident. If you can show that the other driver made several minor driving errors or committed several minor traffic violations, then you can argue that the combination of those actions caused the accident. Almost half the states have some form of no-fault auto insurance, also called personal injury protection.In those states , the claim is paid no matter who is at fault, but the recoveries may be limited to medical expenses and lost wages.Maryland is not a no fault state. Maryland requires proof of fault in order to recover.

    Often there is a dispute about how the accident happened. Both sides tell the story in such a way that if their story were true, then they would not be at fault. Most of the time when there are conflicting stories, it is not likely that both parties are correct in their assessment about what happened. While some people do lie in order to avoid being responsible for the other person’s damage, more often than not the parties just remember the facts differently. It is not unusual to have cases were each side differs in what happened and each side has independent witnesses who also differ as to what happened in a case. For these situations, that is why they have courts to try and resolve the situation. At trial a good Baltimore Injury lawyer, can through direct and cross examination, explore the:

    (1) the witness’s behavior on the stand and way of testifying;

    (2) the witness’s opportunity to see or hear the things about which testimony was given;

    (3) the accuracy of the witness’s memory;

    (4) did the witness have a motive not to tell the truth?;

    (5) does the witness have an interest in the outcome of the case?;

    (6)  was the witness’s testimony consistent?;

    (7) was the witness’s testimony supported or contradicted by other evidence?; and

    (8) whether and the extent to which the witness’s testimony in the court differed from the statements made by the witness on any previous occasion.

Uninsured Motorist Cases From A to Z

According to Andrew Janquitto, author of Maryland Motor Vehicle Insurance,(Copyright 2007, Matthew Bender and Co. Inc) “The purpose of uninsured motorist coverage ( UM) is to place the insured in the same position he or she would have occupied had the at fault party maintained liability limits equal to the claimant’s own UM coverage.” Uninsured motorist coverage provides the insured an opportunity to secure a full recovery for his or her injuries.

What if the person who causes the accident does not have insurance?”

  • What is an Uninsured motorist claim?

    What is an Uninsured motorist claim?

    When you are involved in an accident that is the fault of another driver who either has no insurance or not enough insurance or has statutory immunity, you may be able to file a claim with your insurance company. If you are successful, then your insurance company will step in and pay some or all of your claim as if they insured the at fault vehicle. You will not be penalized for filing the uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company. Your rates cannot be raised and you will not be cancelled for claims paid under this portion of your policy. Even if your insurance company pays under the uninsured motorist portion of your policy, the at fault party will still be responsible, as your insurance company will likely sue the uninsured motorist to collect back the money they had to pay to you.

    How Do You Collect Uninsured Motorist Benefits?

    The injured insured has three alternatives when pursuing a claim involving an uninsured motorist:

    1. He or she may sue the at fault party in tort, obtain a judgment and then enforce the judgment against the UM insurer.
    2. The injured insured may sue the UM insurer and, as part of his or her case, prove that the at fault party’s negligence proximately caused his or her injuries.
    3. The injured insured may combine the tort and contract claims in a single action.

     

    Proving the vehicle is uninsured

    Proving that a vehicle has no insurance can be difficult, and basically akin to proving a negative. The claimant’s burden, is to prove that it is more likely that the vehicle had no insurance. To satisfy this burden usually requires testimony from the at fault party that he or she did not maintain insurance on the vehicle is certainly sufficient, or testimony of that nature from a spouse or other close relative. Testimony from an insurance agent showing that the insurance policy had been canceled before the accident would also be compelling, and evidence from other sources, such as insurance adjusters and the Motor Vehicle Administration, may be sufficient.

  • Elements to prove uninsured motorist claim

    Elements to prove uninsured motorist claim

    An uninsured motorist claim may be pursued when an

    1)insured

    2) motor vehicle accident

    3) Arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the “uninsured motor vehicle

    4) liability of the uninsured at fault party is established

    5) must meet one of the many definitions of uninsured motor vehicle

    6) The person must be entitled to recover damages from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle.

    7) The person must be entitled to recover the damages because of bodily injury or death (or property damage).

    8) The person must not be excluded or otherwise precluded from recovery.

    Who Is Eligible?

    The person must be an insured

    Coverage is extended to the named insured, the named insured’s resident spouse, the named insured’s resident family members, persons driving or riding in the insured vehicle, persons getting in or out of the insured vehicle, and persons who have derivative claims because of injuries to other insureds.

    Motor vehicle accident

    Section 19-501(c) defines “motor vehicle accident” as “an occurrence involving a motor vehicle that results in damage to property or injury to a person” and “does not include an occurrence that is caused intentionally by or at the direction of the insured.” This broad definition encompasses intentional torts. From the language of the statute, it is clear that when an insured is injured because of someone else’s intentional conduct, the injuring act is an accident. However, if the insured intentionally caused his or her own injury, there is no accident.

    Arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the “uninsured motor vehicle”

    Motor vehicle liability policies often limit the insurer’s indemnity obligation to liability “arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use” of a motor vehicle. “Ownership” is fairly self-explanatory. “Maintenance,” refers to “any activity designed to preserve or repair a motor vehicle.” “Use” means “all proper uses of a motor vehicle.” It is not necessary for a motor vehicle to have proximately caused the injury. In McNeill v. Maryland Insurance Guaranty Association, the Maryland Court of Special appeals reiterated this notion. There, McNeill was injured when the battery of the car he was standing next to exploded. In determining that the incident arise out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the motor vehicle, the court stated that “ownership, maintenance or use clauses do not limit recovery solely to injuries that are caused by direct physical contact with the insured vehicle; nor is it necessary that the damages be directly sustained or inflicted by the operation of the motor vehicle.” As McNeill demonstrated, the “arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use” provision is broad. Under certain circumstances, it may include intentional torts. Clearly, when an insured is assaulted, and the motor vehicle acts as the instrument of the assault, the insured’s injuries arise out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle.

    However, a non-vehicular assault requires that the insured demonstrate a close connection between the vehicle and the intentional tort. This requirement was demonstrated in Harris v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. There, Harris was injured when a man in a car attempted to steal her purse. The purse thief drove his or her car next to Harris, grabbed her purse and sped off. Harris’s arm, however, became entangled in the purse’s strap and she was dragged to the ground as the purse thief’s car accelerated away. Since the purse thief was never caught or identified, Harris made an uninsured motorist claim against Nationwide, which denied coverage.

    After deciding that “Harris’s injuries did not arise out of the ownership or maintenance of the purse’s thief’s vehicle, the court held that Harris’s injuries were directly related to the use of the ”uninsured motor vehicle.” In contrast to the purse snatching in Harris, there are a variety of assaults that incidentally or tangentially involve motor vehicles. The most notable include drive-by shootings, fights following collisions, and car-jackings. In these situations, “the injuries generally do not arise out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the “uninsured motor vehicle.” The general view is that the “uninsured motor vehicle” must be intrinsically involved in the intentional act in order for the injuries to arise out of the ownership, maintenance of use of an “uninsured motor vehicle.” Incidental involvement is insufficient. Whether the “uninsured motor vehicle” is intrinsically or incidentally involved must be determined on a case-by-case basis.”

    UM coverage is based on a showing of fault.

    The insurer does not pay benefits to its insured unless and until the liability of the uninsured at fault party is established. (the negligent conduct of a third party) Moreover, the insurer has the right to defend the insured’s claim for UM benefits by asserting all the defenses that an at fault party possesses.

  • Must meet one of the many definitions of uninsured motor vehicle

    Must meet one of the many definitions of uninsured motor vehicle

    An inadequately insured motor vehicle

    The second definition of “uninsured motor vehicle” in the Maryland UM Endorsement addresses the situation where the tortfeasor’s (at fault party) vehicle has insurance from another state but that insurance does not meet the statutory minimum limits. Thus, a vehicle insured in a state other than Maryland having liability limits less than Maryland’s statutory minimum coverage requirement is considered an “uninsured motor vehicle” even though it has insurance. Assume that the vehicle has liability limits of $ 10,000/$ 20,000/$ 10,000. If the injured claimant has UM limits of $ 20,000/$ 40.000/$ 15,000 (the Maryland statutory minimum), the tortfeasor’s vehicle is an “uninsured motor vehicle.” In that situation, the claimant is entitled to collect an additional $ 10,000 from the UM insurer for his or her bodily injury ($ 20,000 UM limit – $ 10,000 liability limit = $ 10,000 collectible UM available).

    An underinsured motor vehicle

    If the tortfeasor’s liability limit equals or exceeds Maryland’s statutory minimum limit ($ 30,000/$ 60,000/$ 15,000), that vehicle can still be an “uninsured motor vehicle” if the claimant’s UM limit is greater than the tortfeasor’s limit. Hence, if the claimant has UM coverage of $ 30,000/$ 60,000/$ 15,000, the tortfeasor’s vehicle is not an “uninsured motor vehicle” On the other hand, if the claimant’s has UM coverage of $ 50,000/$ 100,000/$ 15,000, the tortfeasor’s vehicle is an “uninsured motor vehicle”

    A vehicle whose liability limits are diminished because of payments to multiple claimants

    Suppose a tortfeasor, has liability limits of $ 50,000/$ 100,000, and injures five people. The five persons divided the $ 100,000 five ways, with each receiving $ 20,000. One of the injured persons has an insurance policy that provides UM coverage of $ 25,000/$ 50,000. Under the new law, that claimant should be able to collect $ 5,000 in UM benefits because the tortfeasor’s vehicle qualifies as an “uninsured motor vehicle”

    A phantom or hit-and-run vehicle

    This type of claim encompasses what are commonly called phantom vehicles or hit-and-run vehicles. ”Hit-and-run” is somewhat of a misnomer: the vehicle need not “hit” anything. That is, physical contact with the phantom vehicle is not necessary.

    A vehicle with no liability insurance because of an insurer’s denial of coverage

    Liability insurers often deny coverage to their insureds, or putative insureds, based on a policy provision such as an intentional act exclusion or a non-permissive use exclusion. A disclaimer of coverage is not, however, the functional equivalent of a denial of coverage. A disclaimer exists when there is insurance, but the insurer can escape its obligation because the insured has breached some policy provision, most notably the notification and cooperation clauses. In contrast, when an insurer denies coverage, it is asserting that coverage never existed. The definition does not state that the liability insurer must rightfully deny (or disclaim) coverage. For instance, suppose the liability incorrectly insurer denies coverage based on non-permissive use. This should not matter, and the claimant should not have to prove that the liability insurer denied coverage properly. All the claimant should have to prove is that the denial occurred. And this is easily done, with the denial (or disclaimer) letter as the prime piece of evidence. Should the UM insurer dispute the validity of t he liability insurer’s denial (or disclaimer), the UM insurer can bring a declaratory judgment action to litigate the matter. This can be done before or after the UM insurer has paid UM benefits to the claimant.

    A vehicle operated by a non-permissive user when the claimant is a passenger

    In such a situation, the passenger would be left to seeking UM benefits from his or her own personal policy.

    A vehicle owned or operated by a person protected by a tort immunity

    An issue that occasionally arises on is whether an insured motor vehicle is converted into an ”uninsured motor vehicle” because the owner or operator is protected by a tort immunity. This issue has been considered by the court of appeals on two occasions. A motor vehicle does not become an ”uninsured motor vehicle” because the owner or operator is cloaked with immunity is evidently limited to instances involving parental immunity.

    Recently, the Maryland court of appeals held that a vehicle whose operator and owner were protected by sovereign immunity, qualified as an “uninsured motor vehicle” Popa, was killed when his vehicle was struck by a speeding Maryland state police car. At the time of the accident, the Maryland State police and the State of Maryland had only $50,000 of liability insurance and were immune under the Maryland Tort Claims Act above that insurance. At the time of the accident, Jonathan was insured under a motor vehicle policy issued by West American that provided $ 300,000 of UM coverage. The court of appeals determined that West American’s argument that the immunity that applied to the state trooper barred them from recovering UM benefits.

    A non-insured vehicle operated or owned by a person who is a joint tortfeasor with the operator or owner of an insured vehicle

    When both the negligence of an uninsured motorist and the negligence of an insured motorist jointly cause an injury, the claimant must recover, first, from the liability policy covering the insured vehicle. Then, if the limit of available liability coverage is less than the limit of the claimant’s UM coverage, the claimant can seek indemnification from the UM insurer. If the claimant’s UM coverage is less than or equal to the available liability insurance, then the claimant is not entitled to recover any UM benefits.

  • Exceptions To Uninsured Motorist Coverage

    Exceptions To Uninsured Motorist Coverage

    1. State-owned vehicles: The State of Maryland does not have to maintain UM insurance on its vehicles.
    2. Vehicles owned by political subdivisions: Baltimore City is exempt from the requirement of UM coverage. The general rule is “that neither the State nor its subdivisions are included in legislation imposing obligations to provide UM coverage”
    3. Buses: UM coverage is not mandatory.
    4. Taxicabs: The owners of taxicabs are not required to maintain UM coverage on those vehicles.
    5. Off-road vehicles: UM coverage is not required for certain vehicles not registered for use on a highway or vehicles exempt from registration.
    6. A vehicle furnished or available for the regular use of the named insured or the named insured’s resident spouse or relatives. The Maryland UM Endorsement also excludes from its definition of “uninsured motor vehicle” a vehicle which furnished or made available for the regular use of the named insured or the named insured’s resident spouse or relatives. In Young v. Allstate Ins. Co., the court of special appeals ruled that such a regular use exclusion as it applied to a clause 1 insured was invalid and unenforceable.
    7. A vehicle owned by the named insured or named insured’s resident spouse or relatives. One of the exceptions to the definition of ”uninsured motor vehicle” contained in the Maryland UM Endorsement is where the putative ”uninsured motor vehicle” is owned by the named insured or the named insured’s resident spouse or relatives. The court of special appeals has enforced this exception, based on the “owned-but-uninsured” exclusion allowed by the UM statute, which.
    8. A vehicle owned by any governmental unit or agency. The court of appeals has invalidated this exception.
    9. A vehicle owned by a self-insurer. Another exception to the definition of ”uninsured motor vehicle” contained in the Maryland UM Endorsement is a vehicle that is ”owned or operated by a self-insurer under any applicable motor vehicle law.

Once treatment is complete, the procedure followed by the Law Office of Marc Atas and Associates in order to try and settle the case is outlined below

  • Pre-Trial Procedures

    After the demand package has been submitted to the insurance company, negotiations will take place between the attorney and the insurance carrier. After negotiations, it is hopeful that a reasonable settlement offer will be obtained. At that point, the settlement offer is conveyed to the client.

    The client is not bound by a settlement offer made by the insurance company. Ultimately, the decision on settlement is up to the client and not up to the insurance company and/or lawyer.

    It is important that the client listens to the lawyer with regard to any advice he gives concerning a settlement offer, whether favorable or not. Sometimes the insurance company makes offers that seem unacceptable to the attorney, however, it is the obligation of the attorney to at least present that offer to the client.

    The attorney will then present the pros and cons of all offers to the client and will give his opinion whether the client should accept or reject the offer. After the attorney’s presentation, the client has the ultimate decision as to whether the offer is acceptable or not. Despite having this power of the final say, clients need to remember why they hire an attorney in the first place.

    Because attorneys have substantial experience in handling these should give substantial weight to the recommendations of their attorney. The attorney will then make his recommendations with regard to those offers as well, however, ultimately the client can make a decision on whether they want to accept the money or not.

If your case can not be settled without filing suit, then it will be necessary to file a law suit and it may be necessary to actually have a trial and enable a judge and or jury determine who is at fault and the value of your case. Below are the procedures once suit is filed

  • Pre-Trial Procedures

    After the demand package has been submitted to the insurance company, negotiations will take place between the attorney and the insurance carrier. After negotiations, it is hopeful that a reasonable settlement offer will be obtained. At that point, the settlement offer is conveyed to the client. The client is not bound by a settlement offer

  • Trial Proceedings

    A Circuit Court trial is similar to the District Court trial with the same questions. The main difference between a District Court trial and a Circuit Court trial is that Circuit Court trials usually involve a jury and the medicals records are usually deemed inadmissible unless the doctor comes in to testify. At a typical

  • Trial Testifying

    On your trial date in District Court your case will be scheduled along with five or ten other cases. Your case is a public trial, meaning anyone is entitled to view its proceedings. At least several people will be in attendance to hear your case, as other individuals will be waiting for their cases to

  • Prepare For District Court!

    If it turns out that the case cannot be settled, a Baltimore auto accident attorney can be extremely helpful in pursuing the rest of a claim. The next part of the process, filing the claim in court, is done so that a judge and/or jury can determine the value of the claim. Baltimore auto accident

  • Prepare for Circuit Court!

    If the initial claim that is filed in Court is for more than $30,000, then the case must be filed in the Circuit Court. In addition, all jury trials are in the Circuit Court. In the Circuit Court, trial dates are typically 1 year to 18 months away, which allow the parties ample time to

  • Possible Verdicts

    Possible verdicts After you testify, the rest of your witnesses will be called to testify, to help bolster your case and, to be cross-examined by the defense attorney. At the end of your case the Defendant’s attorney will make a motion to dismiss your claim. If the Judge feels that you have presented a prima

  • Dealing with Defense Attorneys

    These are the typical questions asked in a District Court case and these questions may also be asked in a Circuit Court case. After your Baltimore auto accident attorney asks you questions on direct examination, the defense attorney will then ask you questions on cross-examination. The job of a good defense attorney is to try

  • Auto Accident – Sample Complaints

    What does a typical complaint look like? There are many different types of auto accident complaints. The link below contains a couple of examples. Sample Complaints

  • Depositions – Understanding Motives

    When the lawyer is asking you a question, keep in mind the question itself may seem irrelevant, but the question’s importance lies in whether the question is relevant and could lead to relevant material. Questions that may seem irrelevant to you may seem pertinent to the lawyers involved in the case and may lead to

  • Depositions – Dos and Don’ts for Depositions

    After Interrogatories are exchanged between the parties and answers are given, depositions may be taken. In a deposition, the other attorney discusses the circumstances of the case and takes a statement from any party involved, either at his/her office or at your attorney’s office in front of a court reporter. Depositions can be taken from

  • Depositions – Giving Your Story To The Other Side

    After Interrogatories are exchanged between the parties and answers are given, depositions may be taken. In a deposition, the other attorney discusses the circumstances of the case and takes a statement from any party involved, either at his/her office or at your attorney’s office in front of a court reporter. Depositions can be taken from

  • Discovery – Interrogatories- Questions

    Interrogatories—establishing basic information After the Defendant has filed an Answer, Interrogatories, or thirty questions exchanged between the parties, are typically exchanged. Click to see a typical list of questions filed by the Defendant:   State your full name, home address, date of birth, marital status and social security number. By whom were you employed and

  • Interrogatories – Sample Questions

    A typical list of questions filed by the Defendant: State your full name, home address, date of birth, marital status and social security number. By whom were you employed and what were your duties and wages at the time of the occurrence? State the reason for termination of any employment during the last five (5)

  • Interrogatories – Establishing Basic Information

    After the Defendant has filed an Answer, Interrogatories, or thirty questions exchanged between the parties, are typically exchanged.

  • Independent Medical Evaluations – Tips for Success

    Keep your appointment: Please make sure that when you have a medical evaluation scheduled with the insurance company, you keep the appointment. Failure to keep the appointment can result in suspension of your workers’ compensation benefits, refusal of the insurance company to pay your medical bills and/or you being held responsible for the doctors’ fee

  • Independent Medical Evaluations – Reasons Why They’re Requested

    Insurance companies usually schedule independent medical evaluations when they are skeptical of the claimant or plaintiff’s injuries, when they feel that the property damage of the car in the accident is not consistent with the medical treatment that been provided to date, when they want to get the injured party back to work, when they

  • Independent Medical Evaluations – About Independent Evaluations

    In a personal injury or a worker’s compensation claim, insurance companies typically set up the plaintiff or claimant for an evaluation to be done by the insurance company doctor. Insurance companies call this an independent medical evaluation; however, this is actually an insurance company’s medical evaluation. The insurance companies carefully and deliberately pick what doctors

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