We Serve Car Crash Victims with Care & Compassion
Whether it is a major crash or just a minor fender bender, every kind of car accident is an unfortunate incident, and pursuing compensation for your injuries may be a potentially arduous process. Unfortunately, car accidents are common occurrences in Baltimore and throughout the state. If you should happen to be the victim of a car accident caused by someone else’s recklessness or negligence, it is recommended that you obtain legal representation right away.
While it is possible to handle your case on your own, it is wise to retain an experienced lawyer who can help you navigate the process. At Ashcraft & Gerel, we have extensive experience representing car accident victims who are paying the price for someone else’s mistakes. You do not have to face this situation alone — our team is here to help.
We handle all types of auto accident cases, including those that involve:
- Drunk drivers
- Uber and Lyft drivers
- Commercial truck drivers
- Wrongful death
- Uninsured motorists
- Distracted drivers
- Hit-and-run collisions
- And more
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When Should I Contact an Attorney After a Car Accident?
The first thing you should do after an accident is, of course, to make sure that you, your passengers, and the other driver(s) are safe. The next is to ensure that you do not compromise your case in any way, even if you do not plan on taking the issue to your insurance company or to court.
It is an unfortunate truth that the at-fault driver could falsely claim that you were responsible for the accident and take legal action against you. Therefore, you do not want to give them any ammo to use in court. On the other hand, you may find that you sustained internal injuries or an injury that has turned out to be way worse than you initially thought, spurring you to change your mind and pursue compensation.
Thus, it is advised that you contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible to (a) ensure that the liable party does not take advantage of you and (b) learn about your legal options as the victim of the accident.
Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me 866-709-0505
Dealing with Insurance Matters
Perhaps the most frustrating part of a car accident is the back and forth you will inevitably go through with the car insurance companies. This process can be incredibly frustrating, but it does not have to be.
At Ashcraft & Gerel, we have extensive experience negotiating with insurers and assessing the intricacies of every case to ensure that our clients receive the fair compensation to which they are entitled. For your convenience, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means you owe us nothing unless we recover compensation on your behalf.
Maryland State Car Insurance Requirements
Though we all hope that we will never need to use our car insurance coverage, the state requires that all motorists have insurance in case of an accident. The legal minimum for car insurance coverage in Baltimore and throughout the state includes:
- At least $30,000 to cover the injury or death of one person — you or someone else — in a car accident. For example, if you hit someone and they need medical treatment for their resulting injuries, this minimum amount will cover their medical expenses.
- At least $60,000 to cover the injury or death of more than one person. For example, if you injure two people in a car accident, this coverage will go toward their medical bills.
- At least $15,000 to cover any property damage, most often to the vehicles involved in the accident. For example, if your or the other party’s vehicle is wrecked as a result of a collision, this coverage will help cover the cost of any required repairs.
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Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits
Maryland has a three-year statute of limitations on car accident lawsuits that starts once the accident occurs. The statute of limitations is essentially the deadline by which you must take legal action; any suit filed outside of this statute will be considered ineligible for review.
Because of the statute of limitations, it is important that you give the other driver’s insurance company notice that you are filing a lawsuit. Once you get a car accident attorney involved, they will follow up with a notice of their own. Generally, it is best that you do not provide any recorded statements to insurance companies until you have consulted an attorney. This will protect you from saying anything that may be used against you later.
Determining Fault: What Is Contributory Negligence?
In Maryland – a “fault” state – you can take legal action against any driver who hurts you or damages your car in an accident, so long as they are at fault.
The Old Line State is also one of the few states that follow the contributory negligence rule. With this policy in place, you cannot recover money if you are even 1% responsible for a car accident. Quite often, insurance companies will try to allege contributory negligence to avoid paying you the full amount you are owed.
Reckless versus Negligent Driving
Per state law § 21-901.1, reckless driving is defined as when a driver is acting without regard for anyone else on the road, such as if they are speeding or driving while under the influence of alcohol. Reckless driving is considered a misdemeanor and can carry a schedule fine of $510 or, if they go to court, a fine of up to $1,000.
Negligent driving is along the same vein, but it is considered a less severe offense and carries a schedule fine of $140 or a court-ordered fine of up to $500. The law defines “negligent driving” as acting in a manner that is “careless or imprudent,” which endangers others or their property.
The distinction between reckless and negligent driving can be difficult to discern; yet this distinction is important to know when pursuing your case. To determine whether reckless or negligent driving applies more to your case, reach out to a skilled lawyer at Ashcraft & Gerel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Questions Do Car Insurance Companies Ask After an Accident?
When you contact an insurance company or if one contacts you after a car accident, you may be asked the following questions about the crash:
- When did the accident happen?
- What is the year, make, and model of your vehicle?
- Were there any other vehicles involved? If so, how many?
- What type of damage, if any, was done to your vehicle?
- Does your vehicle need any repairs because of the accident?
- Was a police report filed?
These questions are generally fine to answer as long as you stick to the facts and do not provide any additional information. For instance, when they ask when the accident happened, only state the date and time that it took place; do not say something along the lines of, “It happened when I was crossing through the intersection — the light had just changed.” You do not and should not give them more information than they ask for, as it could compromise your case and be used against you.
Here are some examples of questions an insurance agent is likely to ask that are best to decline to answer:
- How did the crash occur?
- Did inclement weather have any role in the crash?
- Were you wearing a seat belt at the time?
- Could you have done anything to prevent the accident?
How Much Should I Expect from a Car Accident Settlement/Judgment?
Every car accident case is different. As such, state law does not mandate that a specific or even typical amount of money must be paid out to an accident victim. Instead, the victim (plaintiff) has the option to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover compensation for the full amount of damages that they have incurred as a result of the accident.
These damages may include but are not limited to:
- Pain and suffering
- Hospital bills/medical treatment
- Cost of disability
- Loss of earnings, present and future
- Loss of quality/enjoyment of life
How Do You Prove that a Car Crash Was Not Your Fault?
To win a lawsuit, you must prove that the car accident at the center of your case was not your fault.
To do this, the following elements must be established:
- The other party owed you a standard/duty of care;
- The other party acted outside of or violated that standard/duty; and
- This violation caused the accident in which you were injured.
Can I Sue an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist?
Uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance protects you should you be involved in an accident with someone who doesn’t have any or enough insurance to cover the extent of the damages incurred. Every driver in the state is required to have UM and UIM coverage, so it is likely that your insurance policy includes them. Thus, you will be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver regardless of their own insurance status.
Call a Baltimore Car Accident Lawyer at (410) 539-1122
At Ashcraft & Gerel, our Baltimore auto accident lawyers are ready to guide you through the complexities of your case. We understand how overwhelming a car accident can be. That’s why, for over 65 years, our firm has been representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases in Baltimore, MD. We are confident that we can represent you effectively.