The number of cars on the road is constantly growing, and not all drivers are as careful as they should be. Car accidents happen for plenty of reasons and most could be avoided if drivers were more careful. In total, Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) reported more than 110,000 car crashes in 2018, and 22,613 of those crashes were in Baltimore alone. Statewide, about 70% of car crashes caused property damage, and almost 30% caused injuries.
When you’re injured in a collision that was caused by a negligent driver, you’ll need legal representation to advise you through what you need to do next. Hiring an attorney will help you prove who was at fault for the accident and get you compensation for your damages. A Baltimore car accident lawyer will fight for you while you focus on healing.
Causes of Car Accidents
Many car accidents are a result of negligence in some form. Here are some of the most common factors that contribute to a car crash in Baltimore and other cities:
- Distracted driving. Cell phones aren’t the only reason for distracted driving. In 2018, MDOT reported over 57,000 distracted driving-caused crashes. Anything that causes your attention to turn away from the road is also considered distracted driving. Even hands-free devices can be dangerous and distract you. Driving a car is dangerous and requires your undivided attention at all times.
- Drunk driving. Everybody knows that alcohol impairs your judgement and that drunk driving is deadly, but for some reason, people still do it. In Maryland, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) legally cannot exceed 0.07% when driving a vehicle. It only takes two drinks in an hour for an average person to reach the BAC limit.
- Speeding. Speeding caused over 10,000 accidents in Maryland in 2018, according to MDOT. Nearly half of those crashes caused injuries. Adhering to the posted speed limit can reduce accidents, which keeps you and other drivers safer from injuries.
- Reckless driving. Reckless driving can generally be described as disregarding Maryland traffic laws and other rules of the road. Some examples are not wearing seat belts, failing to maintain a safe distance, and passing other cars unsafely and in prohibited areas. Another consideration that contributes to reckless driving is the weather and traffic conditions. Drivers should always adjust their driving to the conditions around them to maintain safety.
The best way to reduce car accidents is to practice defensive driving. Defensive driving means that you never assume another driver is going to follow the law or drive perfectly. Instead, you are on the defense, and expect that they are not paying attention and will not drive their best. You can’t control other drivers on the road, but you can anticipate what their next move is. This helps you avoid accidents because you saw them coming and were prepared to react.
What to Do Immediately Following a Collision
When you’ve just been in a car accident, you might be overwhelmed and in pain. If the pain is serious, it’s best to not move, but if the pain is manageable, you should start working on handling the situation. Here are the steps you should take immediately following a car crash:
- Assess the situation. You don’t want to spend too long doing this step, but it is important to assess the scene before calling 911. This way, you have an idea if anyone is hurt and how severely. When talking to anyone at the scene, do not apologize to any other drivers or victims. This can be considered an admittance of guilt for the accident, whether you caused it or not.
- Call 911. Once you figure out your situation, call 911. This ensures that police and medical services will dispatch immediately and provide care for anyone in need. Getting police there also helps with your car accident claim because they will file a report about your accident. This gives you solid evidence of the accident and their interpretation of who is responsible just by seeing the scene.
- Exchange information. You’ll want to go to any other driver involved in the car collision and exchange information with them. Write down their license plate number and vehicle information. You should also ask for contact and insurance information as well as provide your own. This ensures that you will be able to reach them if you decide to file a claim. Remember not to apologize.
- Take Pictures. Photographs of the scene and any damage can help you in your case. Not only does this give you proof of damages to show to insurance, it could also help you prove liability depending on the damages and position of the scene.
- Talk to witnesses. If anyone was around and saw the scene, ask them if they would be willing to provide a statement about what they saw. Make sure to get their contact information in case you need to talk to them for your claim.
- Contact your insurance. You should contact your insurer and let them know that you’ve been in an accident. Let them know that it is still under investigation. If you aren’t at fault, your insurance might not have to be involved, but you should still keep them in the loop. If the driver at fault’s insurer contacts you offering a settlement, that is not always your best option. Don’t let them pressure you into settling and follow the next step.
- Contact us. When you’ve got all of the above covered, then you can decide if you want to take legal action. Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz can provide you with solid representation for your Baltimore car accident claim. Contact us and we can discuss your legal options and possible compensation.
Types of Injuries from Car Crashes
Car accidents can cause anywhere from minor to serious injuries. While some are felt immediately after impact, others don’t develop until hours or days later. Stress and adrenaline from the accident can cause you to suppress the pain and not feel it right away. Whether you think you are injured or not, you should seek medical treatment immediately after a collision because you could have or develop:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Lacerations and burns
- Brain injury
- Spinal injury
While all of these injuries listed are physical, it is important to remember that emotional trauma is also a common result of a collision. A car crash is a traumatic experience for anyone involved. While you know to seek medical treatment for physical injuries, you might not know to seek emotional help as well. Seeking out professional help could be a critical step toward your healing after a car accident.
Injuries from a car wreck can lead to stress from medical bills, time off work, lost wages, and a long road to getting back to normal life. All of this can make it hard to provide for yourself and your family, which can cause even more stress. A Baltimore car accident lawyer can relieve part of that stress by fighting for justice in your case. We can also resolve your financial hardship by getting you the compensation you deserve.
Determining Car Accident Liability in Maryland
Before getting compensation, responsibility for the accident must be determined. When it comes to liability, Maryland law functions on a tort liability system with contributory negligence. This means that if you were the smallest bit responsible for the accident, even if the other person was almost fully responsible, you cannot receive damages.
If you can prove that the other driver is totally responsible, you have three options for seeking compensation. You could file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance, file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver directly, or file a claim with your own insurance company. This is where your photographs of the scene and witness statements come in. These can help prove that the other driver was completely responsible for the car accident and ensure that you will receive compensation for your damages.
Maryland drivers are legally required to carry liability insurance that covers up personal injuries for up to $30,000 if one person is injured and property damage for up to $15,000. This is the minimum requirement, so drivers could have insurance that covers more than that. The at-fault driver’s insurance should cover your injuries and property damage, but they might not cover your pain and suffering. That could end up being an out of pocket cost for them.
Damages You Can Recover
After a car accident, you can recover different types of damages depending on your situation. The most common category is compensatory damages, which cover economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages can be monetarily measured. Some examples are medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Noneconomic damages are for losses more difficult to measure, like mental anguish or pain and suffering.
Punitive damages are the other category of damages, and unlike compensatory damages, these are not to reimburse you for money lost in the accident. The purpose of these is to financially punish the at-fault party for their recklessness or negligence beyond the damages they caused. For example, punitive damages would be appropriate if the at-fault driver was travelling at an excessive speed.
When making a claim in Maryland, the statute of limitations is three years for personal injury and property damage lawsuits. This means that you have three years after a car accident to file a claim. Additionally, the limit on non-economic damages you can recover in a case is currently $860,000 but this value increases by $15,000 every October 1.
Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz are Here to Help
A car accident can change your life. With all of your new physical, emotional, and financial struggles, you’ll need extra support in your time of need. Our Baltimore car accident lawyer can give you legal backing to help you return to your life before the accident. Contact us today for a free zero-obligation personal injury consultation with our legal team.