Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer Frequently Asked Questions

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Questions

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question I

What determines who is responsible in an automobile accident?

For Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers 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 For Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers, telling people how they are supposed to drive and providing guidelines by which liability may be measured. Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers  know 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.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question II

How do I get my vehicle repaired?

For Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers if you are involved in a car accident and the car accident was not your fault, then you may get your car repairs paid for either by the insurance company for the person who caused the particular car accident or you may be able to get the car or truck repairs paid for under your own insurance policy. If the person who caused the accident, admits fault quickly then Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers say it is always best to get the vehicle fixed under their insurance policy.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers  know once the vehicle is in the shop to be repaired, normally the insurance company will authorize a rental car until the car is fixed. If the person at fault does not admit that they are at fault quickly, then  Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers  know 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.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question III

What is PIP?

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers know 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. Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers will insure 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.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers  WILL INSURE 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.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question IV

Do Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers have to pay medical bills or my health insurance company

Do Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers 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 Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers 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 Baltimore Personal Injury 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 Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer 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 Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers dishonor the lien, then  Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers will be personally liable to the plan.  See Hoffman v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., 232 Md. 51, 56-57 (1963).Your Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer would also be in ethical trouble.  See Maryland Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15(d) & (e).Therefore, a Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer should 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 the Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers, 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 Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers 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 Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers not to pay the health care provider.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question V

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 every Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer  knows 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 driveable  Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers knows 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 driveable 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.”  NaughtonMulgrew 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.

 

WEISHAAR ET AL.v.CANESTRALE ET AL. 241 Md. 676 (1966),217 A.2d 525

 

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.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question VI

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

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers  knows 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 for example, the primary seat belt law went into effect October 1, 1997 and the non-use of a seat belt is NOT admissible evidence in injury cases filed before that date, and IS admissible evidence in cases filed after that date.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question VII

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

No. Medical record releases should only be signed under limited circumstances and after consulting with Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers. If your medical information gets into the insurance adjuster’s hands, it could potentially hurt your case.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question VIII

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 Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers 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.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question IX

If I file a personal injury claim, do I have to go to court?

If another driver’s insurance company agrees to pay what  Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers believes your case is worth, and you wish to settle for that amount, then your case will not go to court. This is what happens in most situations. Some cases do require a formal trial proceeding, however, in either situation, hiring Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers with experience in handling personal injury cases is critical.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question X

What if I believe the accident was partly my fault?

You are probably not in the best position to assess how or why the accident happened. Defective equipment in your vehicle, a malfunctioning traffic signal, or another driver’s intoxication are among many possible causes of an accident, which your attorney can investigate and evaluate. Accepting blame and apologizing to another driver may be used as evidence against you at trial. Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers  will leave it to a judge or jury to decide who is at fault.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question XI

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 Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers, he or she will have experience handling such a situation, and can help find support for your side of the story.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question XII

What is a PIP waiver?

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers  know 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.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question XIV

Will my insurance company rates go up if I collect under the collision portion or PIP portion of my policy?

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers know if your property damage is fixed under the collision portion of your own policy, then your insurance company may raise your rate or may cancel you, unless they are able to get their money back from the person who was at fault in this particular accident. The insurance company cannot cancel you or raise your rates if you collect PIP benefits no matter who is at fault.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question XV

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

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers know if the person who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance, then you can collect under the uninsured motorist portion of your policy. Under the uninsured motorist portion of your policy, your insurance company will step into the shoes of the person who was at fault as if they had insurance coverage with your insurance company and will pay everything that you are entitled to receive through the uninsured motorist portion as if they insured the person who was at fault. When benefits are claimed under the uninsured motorist coverage, your own insurance company cannot cancel you or surcharge you or raise your rates.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question XVI

What benefits can I collect in a motor vehicle accident?

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers know  there are many different benefits that you can collect in a motor vehicle accident. The first benefit you can collect is personal injury protection benefits which will pay medical expenses and lost wages up to $2,500.00. Personal injury protection benefits are paid under the insurance policy of the vehicle that you were in.

In addition Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers know  you can collect for the damage to your car, as well as for the cost of a rental car. Finally, you can collect from the person that is at fault medical expenses for the past, present and future, lost wages for the past, present and future, an additional amount for pain and suffering, and damages for loss of consortium which means any loss to your marriage. These benefits are in addition to any benefits paid by your personal injury protection carrier. In effect you can be paid twice for medical expenses and lost wages.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question XVII

How long does it take to settle an automobile accident claim?

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers know  times vary on how long it takes to settle an automobile accident claim, although it can be divided into two categories. Category one would be cases that are quickly accepted by the insurance company and typically these cases involve the client going to the doctor and completing their treatment. Then usually thirty to forty-five days after the client has completed the treatment the case can be settled by the Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyer.

Category two are the cases that cannot be settled by Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers. In category two there are also two types of cases. Cases that are small and worth less than $10,000.00 usually involve filing suit in the District Court. These cases can take anywhere between three to six months after your treatment is completed. Cases that have to be filed in the Circuit Court which are typically worth more than $10,000.00 usually take anywhere from one to three years.

Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers Frequently Asked Question XVIII

What if I cannot afford a lawyer to represent me for an automobile accident?

The attorney fee in an automobile accident is based on a percentage of any recovery and there is no requirement that any costs be paid up front. If the case is lost, then there will be no fee charged to the client by Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers.

For more information on how a lawyer can help you in an auto accident claim



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