Get Help From Our Experienced & Trusted Car Accident Lawyers
Car accidents are an unfortunate and all-too-common reality in our society. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 5.25 million auto accidents in the United States in 2020, which caused roughly 2.25 million injuries and 39,000 fatalities.
Car accidents are one of the most common types of injury cases we see. For more than 65 years, our car accident attorneys in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. have served these communities with diligent and highly personalized care. With dozens of skilled auto accident attorneys ready and willing to speak with you, Ashcraft & Gerel is highly capable of handling your case – large or small – with the skill and quality of service you expect. Call us today at (844) 680-0339 or request your free consultation online to get started.
Find Out More About Your Car Accident Case
What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
In the aftermath of a traumatic experience like a car accident, it may be difficult to stay calm and know what to do to protect yourself. Taking the following steps can help keep you safe and support any potential claims in the future:
- Call 911: Police and first responders will help secure a potentially dangerous accident scene and provide emergency care if needed. It’s also important to get a police report – be cooperative with officials, but keep the conversation fact-based and do not admit fault.
- Document evidence and gather information: If it is safe to do so, take photos of the vehicles involved, including the way they are positioned, any car damage, and license plates. Also, be sure to exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties and collect contact information for anyone that may have witnessed the accident.
- Get immediate medical attention: If you find yourself unable to move following an auto accident, don’t risk harming yourself even further. Instead, wait for emergency personnel to arrive on the scene. As soon as possible, get examined by a medical professional. Although you might seem physically fine, injuries to the musculature, blood vessels, or nerves may not be noticeable for weeks or even months. That’s why it’s so important to get examined by a health professional soon after your accident – one who is trained to recognize the symptoms and look for such injuries.
- Contact a car accident attorney: Finally, it’s important to talk with an attorney who has significant experience representing people involved in auto accidents – big and small – who can answer your questions, discuss your options, and advise you about next steps (or whether you even need a lawyer). At Ashcraft & Geral, our qualified car accident lawyers in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. understand that no two accidents are exactly the same. We are ready to examine the unique details of your accident with a free case review today.
Why Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
One of the most helpful things you can do after an auto accident is contact an experienced car accident lawyer who is deeply knowledgeable about the relevant laws and auto insurance claims processes.
A qualified car accident attorney will help ease the stress that arises from the aftermath of an accident. Beyond the emotional turmoil and possible physical injury, dealing with auto insurance companies, adjusters, and their legal representatives may be challenging. You may also be trying to assess and pay for car damages or repairs, including a total loss, as well as medical expenses from your accident. An auto accident attorney can help assess how much your car accident claim might be worth and work to recover other damages that may be rightfully owed to you, such as a fair reimbursement for medical or therapy expenses, lost work income, and pain and suffering.
When Should I Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
Things move quickly after a car accident, so you should not hesitate to contact an auto accident lawyer if you’ve been involved in an accident. Insurance companies and their lawyers also know they need to move fast once the claims process begins, so they will often try to reach accident victims before they secure legal representation. This allows them to throw out lowball offers, undervalue your claims, try to obtain recorded statements they can use against you, and try any number of tactics to undermine your case. Of course, all this may be happening while you are seeking medical treatment, trying to get a working vehicle, and processing the trauma of your experience.
A top car accident lawyer will work quickly to deal with insurance companies, establish who is at fault in the accident by gathering evidence, and make sure your medical needs are documented and treated properly to support any claims. They can assess the facts of your case, help weigh your legal options, and provide a more accurate picture of damages you may be owed. However, if you don’t contact a car accident lawyer in a timely fashion, their ability to help you will likely diminish.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Car Accident?
The term “statute of limitations” refers to a time limit set by each state that dictates how much time you have to file a legal claim in various situations, including car accidents. These time limits will vary depending on which state your accident occurred in and other specific details of your case. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C., it’s best to contact a qualified car accident lawyer to understand the time frame for your specific case.
What Are the Most Common Car Accident Injuries?
Unfortunately, injuries are a common outcome of car accidents, with the NHTSA reporting that nearly half of the 5.25 million car accidents in 2020 caused injury to one or more parties. While car accidents can cause harm in many ways, some of the most common injuries include:
- Whiplash: Most often seen in rear-end collisions, whiplash happens when a sudden movement stretches the ligaments and muscles in your neck or upper back.
- Back or spinal cord injuries: Car accidents are one of the leading causes of spinal cord injuries, especially herniated discs (also called “bulging” or “slipped” discs). Injuries from car accidents are frequently associated with chronic lower-back pain and other long-term back issues.
- Broken bones: The steering wheel or airbags can often cause fractures during a car accident, which can lead to pain, swelling, deformity, or even an inability to use the affected limb. Certain fractures may require surgery, casting, and a lengthy recovery process.
- Concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): Sudden blows to the head can cause these types of brain injuries, which can range from mild to severe. Less serious symptoms might include headache or nausea, while more serious brian injuries can cause hemorrhaging, permanent brain damage, and other long-term, life-altering problems.
- Psychological or emotional trauma, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): The impact of a car accident can continue to take a toll on your mental well-being after the incident. Some drivers may experience new forms of anxiety and mental distress, including PTSD, after being involved in an auto accident.
Who Is Liable for My Injuries in a Car Accident?
Liability can be a complex legal concept, especially when there are multiple parties involved. Generally, you will need to prove that other people’s negligence contributed to your car accident and subsequent injuries, financial loss, and any other relevant damages. The basic tenets of negligence are:
- The other driver owed you a duty of care. All states require that drivers operate vehicles with a duty of care, which just means that they agree to drive with a reasonable degree of care and safety.
- The other driver violated this duty. To establish negligence, your car accident attorney will need to prove that the driver violated this duty. Some examples include drinking and driving, texting while driving, or disregarding traffic laws or signs.
- Due to this violation, you suffered damages. The final step is connecting the other driver’s violation of their expected duty to the physical, mental, or financial damages you suffered. In other words, your car accident lawyer must prove that the accident would not have occurred if the other driver hadn’t violated their duty.
There are potential complications in some situations. For example, auto part manufacturers, government entities, and automobile owners (if different than the driver) may also share liability in certain cases.
Maryland and Virginia are at-fault states, which means that drivers are allowed to sue other drivers and their insurance companies to recover compensation after a car accident. These states also follow the doctrine of contributory negligence, which means that if you share any of the blame for an accident (even just 1% as determined by the court), it will be difficult to recover damages from another party (even if they are 99% to blame).
Washington D.C. is a no-fault state, which means that each driver’s insurance company is responsible for covering their policyholder’s medical expenses and certain other damages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This means that individuals involved in a car accident can typically seek compensation directly from their insurance provider, rather than pursuing a claim against the other driver’s insurance. No-fault laws aim to streamline the claims process, reduce litigation, and provide prompt medical coverage to accident victims.
Who Pays My Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
In Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., paying for medical bills is your responsibility. However, if you are able to prove that another party is liable for the accident, then the negligent driver’s insurance company should ultimately cover these costs (and uninsured drivers can be held personally liable). Unfortunately, it may take some time to recover compensation, and you may have to use your own insurance policy, your health insurance, or pay out of pocket while your claim is being resolved.
What Happens if I Don’t Have Auto Insurance?
In Maryland, a lack of insurance will not prevent you from filing a claim for the damages you suffered, but it can make your situation more complicated. If you lose your claim, there’s a good chance you will have no coverage at all for your losses and damages suffered. Since driving without insurance is illegal, you may also face other legal or financial penalties even if you win your claim.
In Virginia, driving without insurance is legal under certain conditions. If you choose not to purchase insurance, you must pay a $500 fee and prove you are able to cover a potential accident victim’s injuries with your own personal funds. However, a lack of insurance can complicate the claims process, and you may face additional fines and penalties if you have not paid your $500 fee and are subsequently involved in a car accident.
Washington, D.C. requires that drivers obtain auto insurance before registering and operating a vehicle. You may face fines and have your license suspended if you are caught driving uninsured. Those penalties are likely to be even more severe if you are involved in a car accident while being uninsured, and you may also be personally liable for thousands or even millions of dollars in damages.
What if the At-Fault Party Doesn’t Have Car Insurance?
In Maryland, your own insurance company will generally be responsible for covering the damages caused by an uninsured, at-fault driver. Minimum insurance requirements for Maryland include up to $30,000 of uninsured motorist coverage, which is designed to handle this exact situation. You can carry more than the minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage, but it cannot exceed your coverage for bodily injury liability and property damage liability (although you can work with your insurance company to raise these coverage limits as well).
In Virginia, you will still follow the typical auto claims process when the at-fault driver is underinsured or completely uninsured. Minimum insurance requirements for Virginia include uninsured motorist coverage, and it’s highly recommended that you carry underinsured motorist coverage to handle situations where an at-fault driver’s coverage is insufficient to cover all your damages. With these types of coverage, you should be able to work with your own insurance company to receive payment for your damages. You will need to explain to them that an uninsured driver caused the accident, and they can guide you through the claims process.
Washington, D.C. also requires that drivers carry uninsured motorist insurance for at least $25,000 per person ($50,000 per accident) in bodily injury coverage and at least $5,000 for property damage. If you are in an accident without a driver, your own insurance company can process your claim and compensate you through this type of coverage.
What Damages Can You Pursue After a Car Accident?
A qualified car accident lawyer can help you uncover the full scope of damages that you may be owed. Some common examples include:
- Medical expenses: These costs can stack up quickly after a car accident, so they are frequently at the center of negotiation and/or litigation. You may be able to recover compensation for costs related to ambulance service, rehab and physical therapy, surgery, treatment for permanent disability or disfigurement, in-home care, and other treatment.
- Lost income: Depending on the injuries you suffered in your car accident and the type of work you do, you may be unable to earn an income for an extended period – or permanently. You may be entitled to compensation under those circumstances.
- Pain and suffering: Car accidents can be incredibly painful and traumatic events with potentially life-altering effects. You may be able to claim damages related to the pain you experienced during your accident as well as the potential for extended or chronic pain in your future.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?
It is difficult to provide an average settlement for a car accident, because each incident involves unique circumstances that will affect the final outcome. Generally, the settlement amount is determined by the relevant medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. When your injuries are serious (and require expensive care) and the impact on your future well-being is severe, the figures involved are likely to get larger.
The best way to get a better idea of your expected settlement amount is to contact a car accident attorney to review your case. The car accident lawyers at Ashcraft & Gerel have earned millions for their clients by holding negligent drivers and their insurance companies accountable.
How Long Does It Take To Settle a Car Accident Case?
The amount of time needed to settle your car accident case will depend on the circumstances of your case. Cases that are simpler from a liability perspective or involve less serious injuries can often be resolved in as little as six months, but more complex and severe incidents could take up to a year or longer to reach a settlement. Overall, most cases are settled before reaching a trial. Here are a few factors that can influence the settlement timeframe:
- The extent and nature of your injuries
- The length of treatment time
- The number of parties involved
- Whether liability is disputed (or how much it is disputed)
- The level of cooperation from other parties
- Whether or not a trial is needed
How Do I Get a Temporary Rental Car After an Accident?
Trying to live, work, and potentially recover from your injuries after a car accident can be even more stressful if your car was damaged or totaled in the accident. In an ideal scenario, the at-fault party’s insurance company will immediately assume liability and cover the costs of a comparable rental car while the affected vehicle is repaired or replaced.
However, if your claim is disputed, the process of getting a rental car can become more complicated, and you may have to front the costs while your claim is being negotiated. It’s always a good idea to have rental coverage through your own insurance company because this coverage can provide a rental car during negotiations. But if that’s not an option, the best way to apply pressure against any delaying tactics is to contact a car accident attorney that will represent your best interests and hold insurance companies accountable.
What if I’m in an Accident in a Rental Car?
Overall, the claims process for an accident involving a rental car is very similar to the typical claims process, where the at-fault party’s insurance company will pay for relevant damages. However, many rental drivers purchase additional insurance from the rental company, which can add some slight wrinkles to the process.
Depending on the type of rental insurance purchased and the specific details of your crash, damages may be covered by the other driver’s insurance company, your rental company’s insurance provider, or your own insurance.
What Causes Most Car Accidents?
There are more cars on the road than ever before. That also means there’s more traffic jams, more frustrated drivers, and more distractions that you must contend with. Some of the most common causes of car accidents include:
- Distracted driving: Between texting, talking on the phone, checking directions, or scrolling TikTok, it can be difficult for some drivers to keep their full attention on the road.
- Driving under the influence: While nearly everyone knows it is dangerous and illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, it continues to be a major cause of accidents. In 2020, almost 12,000 people were killed in alcohol-related car accidents (NHTSA).
- Speeding: Driving too fast reduces the amount of time you have to react and make good decisions. It can also increase the severity of damages and injuries in a car crash.
- Reckless driving: At one point or another, we’ve all been frustrated on the road. However, aggressive behaviors like tailgating, committing improper or unexpected lane changes, or cutting off other drivers increase the likelihood of an accident.
- Mechanical failures, including tire blowouts: It can be difficult to react quickly and properly when something goes wrong with you or another driver’s car. These unexpected developments can often lead to car accidents.
Contact Our Experienced Car Accident Attorneys for Help
The Beltway area features major traffic arteries like I-90, I-64, and I-70, drawing many drivers on a daily basis and making it a hotbed for car accidents. For more than 65 years, our car accident lawyers in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have served their communities with high-quality, attentive service.
No matter how large or small a case may be, we treat each client with the respect they deserve. If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are looking for a top car accident lawyer in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C., contact us today at (844) 680-0339 or request your free consultation online to get started.
Types of Car Accident Cases We Handle
After operating for nearly seven decades, our firm has seen it all. The car accident attorneys at Ashcraft & Gerel are well-versed in all types of auto cases and claims, including:
- Car Diminished Value Claims
- Distracted/Texting While Driving
- Drowsy Driving
- DUI/Drunk driver accidents
- Fatal Car Accident
- Head-On Collision
- High-Speed Crash
- Hit and Run
- Passenger Injuries
- Pedestrian Accident
- Rear-end Accident
- Rental Car Accident
- Rideshare Accidents
- Road Rage Accident
- Rollover Accident
- Teen Driver Accident
- Unsafe Lane Change Accident
- Wrong Way Driver Accident