Car accidents are a common occurrence in densely populated areas like Baltimore. Drivers’ negligent actions are the cause of collisions in many instances. Victims who are wrongfully injured and forced to deal with the ramifications of an incident they did not cause deserve justice. The Baltimore car accident lawyers at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC will stand up for their rights and pursue the compensation they need to recover.
Pursuing legal action can feel overwhelming because it is a complicated process. If you sustained injuries in a wreck you believe someone else caused, we are here for you. Our injury attorneys will handle the paperwork and negotiations so you can focus on recovery. To build a successful claim, it’s a good idea to have some background knowledge on collisions in Baltimore. You’ll also benefit from understanding how the legal process works. Let’s start by taking a look at Baltimore’s car accident statistics.
How Common Are Vehicular Collisions in Baltimore?
Every year, the Maryland Department of Transportation produces a statewide crash summary. The report discusses the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities that happened in the state. They break the statistics down by county. The following numbers are totals for Baltimore and Baltimore City in 2017:
- There were 20,764 vehicle wrecks in Baltimore.
- Baltimore City saw 19,797 accidents.
- Combined, nearly 37 percent of all collisions in Maryland took place in Baltimore and Baltimore City.
- 11,050 of those incidents resulted in injury.
- 108 crashes were fatal.
There are many different types of wrecks a driver could end up in, but there are certain ones that are more common in urban areas. Reduced road space, the increased traffic, and more people traveling on foot contribute to city accidents. The various car crash types include rear-end collisions, sideswipes, T-bone crashes, single vehicle wrecks, and low-speed accidents.
Rear-end collisions occur when the following driver isn’t paying attention to the road in front of them. If they are speeding or checking their phone, it’s likely they won’t notice when the driver in front of them slows down or stops. Low-speed wrecks are also likely to happen when drivers are not paying attention. They generally take place in parking lots, garages, or places where there are many obstacles to avoid. While a low-speed crash might not sound dangerous, victims can still be seriously injured. Single vehicle accidents are also likely to happen in areas like parking lots but only involve one driver.
Sideswipe and T-bone crashes happen for similar reasons but in different ways. A sideswipe happens when one car drifts into another lane and hits the side of another vehicle. This can cause either vehicle to lose control. Because of the tight lanes in the city, these accidents frequently happen when drivers neglect to check their blind spots. A T-bone, which can result in serious injuries or fatalities, happens when two vehicles collide while going in different directions. In Baltimore, these happen most often at traffic lights and intersections.
Reckless Driving Behaviors That Cause Car Crashes
Responsible drivers are aware of the traffic laws and abide by them at all times. Unfortunately, there are other drivers on the road who take reckless actions behind the wheel. It’s crucial for all drivers to be aware of the most common causes of car accidents. This awareness can help drivers to be on the lookout for others who could potentially cause a car accident.
In Maryland, there are thousands of people injured and hundreds killed when distracted drivers are traveling. According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, there are three types of distracted driving: visual, cognitive, and manual. Cell phones, GPS systems, daydreaming, and eating are all contributing hazards. Drunk driving is also a serious issue in Maryland. Drivers who get behind the wheel intoxicated are at a significantly higher chance of causing an accident. This is because of their inability to focus on the road and process their surroundings.
Reckless drivers are also likely to disobey traffic laws. They may speed, run red lights or stop signs, tailgate, turn improperly, merge without caution, or drive faster than conditions allow. Traffic laws are in place to protect the wellbeing of all travelers. Collision rates climb when drivers disregard those laws.
Our Baltimore car accident attorneys believe there is never an excuse for negligent driving. That is why we take a stand for crash victims. If you’ve been in a wreck, it’s likely you’ll be dealing with many burdens. We’re here to help you manage those issues.
The Many Consequences of an Auto Wreck
When you’re the victim of an automobile accident, the repercussions can be difficult to cope with. While the physical injuries are often the first to come to mind, crash victims will also need to manage the financial burdens and cope with any psychological trauma they’re dealing with. To understand how much effect a car accident can have on a person’s life, let’s break those consequence categories down.
There are a number of factors that affect how severe accident injuries are. The most common include the speed at which the wreck happened and the age and health status of the victims involved. The most common injuries include head injuries like concussions, neck injuries like whiplash, soft tissue damage like stretched or torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and broken bones. Many of these injuries require minimal medical procedures. Victims are likely to recover over the course of weeks or months.
More severe injuries, like burns, spinal cord damage, or traumatic brain injuries, have the potential to completely upend a person’s life. Some injuries are so severe that the body is not capable of returning to its previous state. As a result, the victim will likely need continued medical care and have to drastically change how they live their life. In the most serious of collisions, injuries can result in death.
After dealing with the physical consequences of a car crash, the next issue victims are likely to worry about is money. There are a number of financial burdens, like increased insurance premiums, medical expenses, and car repairs to deal with. It can be difficult to handle those expenses if it’s necessary to take time off work to recover from injuries.
Depending on your car insurance policy, your premium could spike. After making a single claim, the average premium has the potential to go up by 41 percent. You could also lose perks like good driver discounts. If the accident was minor, however, you may get a break—especially if your driving record is spotless.
Medical expenses are often the most expensive part of dealing with a car wreck. While a minor wreck may only require the injured parties to seek treatment from their primary care physician, a serious auto accident can rack up bills for ambulance rides, emergency room co-pays, doctor’s visits, medications, physical therapy, and necessary medical equipment.
After seeking medical attention and contacting the insurance company, victims will need to deal with having their vehicle repaired. The insurance company may not cover repairs depending on the policy and accident. Expenses can also add up in the event it’s necessary to obtain a rental car.
While your physician will assess our physical injuries, you should be aware of your mental state. There are emotional symptoms that could develop after an auto accident. These symptoms could include anxiety, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, nightmares, irritability, overwhelming feelings, compulsive or obsessive behaviors, or social withdraw.
Coping with those symptoms can be difficult when done alone. It’s best to seek guidance from a licensed mental health professional. Therapies and medication are common forms of treatment that can help victims move past what they went through.
Knowing When You Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been in an accident and are trying to deal with insurance companies, paperwork, and negotiations, you may feel in over your head. Protecting your rights is a crucial part of the process, so you know you’re receiving the compensation you deserve. You may be contemplating dealing with the issue by yourself to save time and money. Depending on your circumstances, a decision like that could be a major mistake. It’s important to know when you need to hire a lawyer, as they can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
You may think that the insurance company is on your side because you’re one of their policyholders. This is not the case. Insurance companies strive to protect their bottom line by offering accident victims the lowest settlements possible. With an attorney’s help, you’ll know what you are rightfully entitled to when they calculate your losses. There may also be damages you did not consider when thinking about handling the case on your own, like for lost wages or pain and suffering.
It can also be difficult to prove liability on your own. You may not have access to the evidence you need to show how the other driver caused the wreck that injured you. By hiring a car accident lawyer in Baltimore, they will be able to investigate your claim. They may call on expert witnesses, like an accident reconstructionist, to strengthen your case. They will also be able to analyze the police report and crash scene.
Settlement options may be confusing. If you do not have all the losses calculated when the insurance company offers you compensation, money could be missing. You may also want to accept the first offer to resolve the issue quickly. The first offer, however, is likely to be the lowest. You also give up your right to sue. With an lawyer at your side, negotiations can take place to ensure you are not taken advantage of.
You may not be in a condition to handle legal matters if your injuries are severe. With a personal injury lawyer, you can rest assured that we’ll look out for your best interests while you recover. They will also be able to determine how best to proceed based on your unique circumstances.
Understanding How Maryland Laws Apply to Your Claim
Your Baltimore car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options by explaining how state laws apply to your claim. The most common to go over include insurance requirements, the statute of limitations, at fault rules, and damage limits.
The state of Maryland requires drivers to have a certain amount of coverage on their vehicles. Requirements for liability coverage include:
- $30,000 for bodily injury or the death of one person
- $60,000 for total bodily injury or death liability
- $15,000 for property damage per accident
Liability coverage will pay for property damage, medical expenses, and other costs of drivers, passengers, or pedestrians who sustained injuries or incurred property damage. Once the policy limits have dried up, the at-fault party is responsible for the rest of the damages. Understanding your insurance policy and the coverage it provides you with is crucial when filing a claim.
A statute of limitations refers to the time limit you have to bring a lawsuit to court. This does not apply to insurance claims. According to Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code section 5-101, a claimant has three years from the date of the accident to take legal action. If your trial lawyer tries to file a lawsuit on your behalf after the three-year mark, the court can dismiss your case and your chances for compensation will be null. Statutes of limitations exist because evidence tends to deteriorate over time.
Like most states, Maryland follows an at-fault system for insurance claims. If someone is seeking compensation for a collision, they have to prove that the other driver was at fault. Unlike most states, however, Maryland follows a contributory negligence rule. Under this rule, if the person filing the claim is at fault in any way, they will not be able to recover any damages.
Once your injury attorney has filed your claim and proven how the other party caused your accident, you’ll likely be wondering about compensation. There are two categories of losses: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are calculable—like medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Noneconomic damages are abstract costs like physical pain, suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and loss of affection or companionship.
In many cases, a person can collect the total sum of their economic damages. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, have a cap. The amount changes every year, so your injury lawyer will need to explain what that amount is and how they apply to you.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?
It’s normal for car accident injury victims to wish to resolve their claims as quickly as possible. Depending on the situation, however, the process of filing a claim with the insurance company to accepting a settlement can take a few months up to a few years. Spending extra time on a case can improve the chances for fair compensation. There are a few factors that influence how long a claim will take to settle.
The state of a person’s injuries can put a claim on hold. A doctor may not know how long the recovery period will last or the full extent of the injuries. Your injuries will also have a maximum medical improvement (MMI). MMI refers to the state at which a person will no longer continue to recover. Some injuries, like whiplash or generalized pain, may raise questions with the insurance company. Adjusters are likely to scrutinize those injuries.
Once the insurance company makes an offer, the claimant can accept it or reject it. The claimant’s attorney can push for a better award. You can appeal a denied claim, which will continue the process. If the claimant rejects the offer, more negotiations will take place. If those negotiations fall through, the claimant can pursue a lawsuit. A discovery period and negotiations will take place. While most car accident claims do not end up at this point, it is a possibility.
Cases involving serious injuries, a potentially high settlement, or questionable liability will take longer to settle than the average claim because matters will not be as straightforward.
The Benefit of Seeking Legal Representation from a Reliable Law Firm
At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, our Baltimore car accident lawyers are prepared to help victims recover what they’ve lost. We understand how difficult it can be to cope with a traumatic event. We’ll strive to provide our clients with the support and guidance they need to make fully informed decisions that will benefit them and their families.
The law is complicated and not hiring a lawyer is likely to cost you more in the end. We know how to challenge evidence presented against your claim and will file the correct documents on time. Depending on the case, we may also have access to witnesses and experts to strengthen your claim.
If you’re ready to take legal action against a negligent party for your crash injuries and losses, we will provide you with a free case evaluation. This will help you decide how best to proceed. Contact our firm today to learn more.