Auto Accident FAQs
I've been injured in a car accident, what should I do first?
While a car accident can leave you flustered, it is important to remember
a few key details following the accident. First, never admit fault, even
if you believe that you were responsible for the accident. Remember, a
professional has not evaluated the situation. The other driver could be
at fault as well.
Secondly, it is important that you or another person does not move your
vehicle after the collision until law enforcement officers instruct you
to do so. You will want to leave the scene as accurate as possible so
that officers and reconstructionists can take precise records and measurements
of the accident.
In addition, it is crucial that you obtain the full name, address, and
license plate of the other driver, as well as the phone numbers and addresses
of any witnesses. These may become extremely important to preserve your
case in court.
It is crucial to contact the police and seek immediate medical care even
if you do not believe you have suffered harm. Often times, car accident
victims do no not notice injuries for days or weeks. By seeking medical
attention right away, you can rest easier knowing that your health and
body have been evaluated by a medical professional.
It is important to retain a car accident attorney immediately, as well.
The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner your case can be built.
Should I wait to contact an attorney about my motor vehicle accident?
No. If you have been involved in a car accident, it is crucial to contact
an experienced car accident attorney immediately. In most cases, the first
24-48 hours are regarded as the most important for several reasons. Depending
on the accident, it may be necessary for an investigator to examine the
scene. Additionally, an accident reconstructionist may be needed to determine
the cause and faults of the accident via witness interviews and photographs
of injuries and the collision scene. By seeking legal help right away,
you can best ensure that the most accurate details are recorded in order
to preserve your case.
Are pictures and witnesses important in motor vehicle accident cases?
In many cases pictures and witnesses can make or break a case. If you have
a camera or camera phone at the scene of the accident, be sure to take
pictures before the vehicles are moved. Also, it is extremely helpful
to photograph the damage done to the vehicles involved in the accident,
either at the scene or at a later time. Finally, pictures of any bodily
injuries such as bruising, swelling, bumps, scratches, and other visible
injuries are also vital.
Witnesses can sometimes be the most important factor in successfully pursuing
a case, particularly if the other driver disputes your version of how
the motor vehicle accident occurred. Moreover, you should always assume
that the other driver is not going to admit fault. Therefore, even if
you think the accident is clearly not your fault, always try to obtain
the names, address and phone numbers of the other driver and all witnesses
to the accident.
Should I go to the hospital or a doctor?
Your health should be your number one concern following a motor vehicle
accident. If you have any doubt about the status of your health, you should
go to the hospital or see your doctor immediately. Plus, insurance companies
and even judges and juries look for documentation and prompt treatment
of your injuries when it comes to evaluating your injury claim. The best
way that you can appropriately document your injuries is to have a medical
record of them.
Should I call my insurance company or the one for the other driver?
No. Let your attorney take care of contacting any insurance companies.
Even if you make a statement to your own insurance company, the other
driver's insurance company can obtain that statement and use it against
you. The only people you should discuss your case with are the police,
medical personnel, and your lawyers.
Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?
No. The only time you should give such a statement is when you have an
attorney who can assist you in determining whether to give such a statement
and represent you when giving one. While recorded statements are sometimes
helpful in resolving cases, many times they are taken while an injured
person is still under duress and not aware of the full extent of his injuries.
In addition, be aware that those who investigate motor vehicle accidents
sometimes assume guilt and take a criminalistic approach to questioning,
instead of simple fact-finding. The questions are sometimes phrased in
a manner that leads you into admitting you were at fault or not injured
in the accident, even if not true.
I already gave a recorded statement to the insurance company, do I still
have an accident case?
Absolutely. While we prefer that you not give a statement before contacting
us, in many cases we can and do obtain significant settlements for people
who already gave statements before contacting us. Again, while we advise
against this, it does not prohibit you from having a case. It may make
your case harder to settle, so having a good attorney will be even more vital.
I am making a claim with my own insurance company, why do I need an attorney?
While your own insurance company may claim to be on your side, like any
other insurance company, their primary goal is to pay as little as possible
on any claim. Thus, their interests may not be the same as yours, particularly
if you are making an uninsured motorist or property damage claim. It never
hurts to have a lawyer to look out for your interests.
We'll also assist you getting your car repaired. We do this as a service
to our clients and do not take any of the amount recovered. If we must
go to court to obtain a settlement, we may have to charge a legal fee.
This is a very rare occurrence and the fee would be a percentage of the
amount recovered, payable only if we obtain a recovery.
I need a rental car. Will you help with that too?
Absolutely. As part of the settlement of the property damage claim we generally
also assist you in obtaining a rental vehicle for your use while your
car is being repaired. Once again, this is a service for which we normally
do not charge our client's. The only exception is when we have to go to
court to obtain reimbursement of the rental costs, which happens very rarely.
The insurance company said my car is a total loss. What does that mean?
A total loss is often referred to as “totaled.” This is when
a vehicle would cost more to repair than to replace. In most cases, insurance
companies will declare a vehicle totaled when the estimated costs of repair
are equal to or more than 90% of the vehicle’s value. Most of the
time, insurance companies will account for the additional damages that
a mechanic might find once repairs have been initiated. If the insurance
evaluator declares your vehicle a total loss, you may receive payment
that should allow you to buy a replacement vehicle of equal value.
How does an insurance company determine the value of my vehicle?
The insurance companies will do a market survey to determine the value
of vehicles comparable to your vehicle. The insurance company contacts
dealers and checks ads to find out the selling price of vehicles which
are similar to yours. While no two vehicles are identical, the insurance
company will base its estimate on the vehicles that are most similar to
What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?
Personal Injury Protection, or "PIP" as it is sometimes called, is a type
of insurance to which you may be entitled to if you are injured in a car,
truck or motorcycle accident. PIP covers the occupants of a vehicle and
provides coverage anywhere from $2,500 to $100,000.
PIP only covers medical bills and a percentage of lost wages. It does not
include any payment for pain, suffering or inconvenience. PIP is a form
of no fault insurance. You may receive PIP if you were at fault in the
accident, as long as you elected the coverage when you took out your policy.
You may also be covered by someone else's PIP while operating or riding
in their vehicle.
Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia have different laws and
regulations regarding PIP. In the District of Columbia, making a PIP claim
can be a waiver of your right to pursue a claim against the person that
caused the motor vehicle accident. This is another complicated area of
law that you should leave to an experienced personal injury attorney.
For example, if you are a resident of one state and have an accident in
another, this type of situation is what attorneys refer to as a choice
of law problem. When a Maryland insured has an auto accident in the District
of Columbia, for example, an issue arises as to whether the law of the
District of Columbia or the law of Maryland apply with regard to the PIP
claim. These choice of law issues are often complex questions requiring
the analysis of an attorney.
Does the firm charge for handling PIP claims?
We do not take a percentage of the amount you recover from your PIP policy.
Instead, we charge a small administrative fee, not to exceed $150, to
cover our time and expenses in ensuring your application for benefits
is properly and fully filled out and submitted in a timely fashion, that
all of your medical bills are submitted, and that any disputes with the
insurance company are followed through and resolved in your favor. The
fee is taken at the end of your case and out of your recovery against
the person who caused your accident. If you are not eligible for PIP or
do not recover it, we do not accept any fee.
What damages are I entitled to for my auto accident?
Every accident must be handled on a case-by-case basis. However, if your
accident occurred due to the negligence of another driver, you may receive
compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Physical pains
- Emotional distresses
Often times, a spouse may be entitled to compensation for consortium damages
as the result of a spouse’s injuries. If the spouse is killed in
the accident, the surviving spouse and family members may be eligible
to recover compensation for pain, suffering, and emotional distresses
depending on the case. In many cases involving malicious conduct, family
members are entitled to punitive damages.
Of course, the best way to determine the amount of compensation you are
eligible for is to contact a seasoned car accident lawyer
What is contributory negligence and how does it relate to a car accident?
Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, and other jurisdictions,
adhere to the legal doctrine of contributory negligence. Under this doctrine,
if an injured person is negligent, which means they failed to exercise
the care of an ordinary and prudent person, and that negligence was a
cause of their injuries, they are barred from recovering any damages from
the other driver, even if the other driver was also negligent. There are
numerous exceptions to this doctrine and you should consult with us even
if you think you were partially at fault for your car accident so that
we can help you determine if you fall within the exceptions.
How much is my case worth?
This depends on the particular facts regarding your motor vehicle accident,
the physical injuries you suffered and your other damages, if any. Some
cases involve clear liability on the behalf of the defendant, but have
moderate damages. Other cases involve severe physical injuries, but a
significant dispute as to who is liable for the accident.
Once we have an opportunity to review the facts of your case and the injuries
you suffered, we can research similar cases and arrive at an estimated
range of values for your case. This is vital to negotiating a good settlement.
One of the reasons insurance companies do not want you to seek legal counsel
is that you will learn the true, full value of your case.
Is it worth my time to pursue a case for minor injuries?
In most instances, it is advisable to have an attorney, even if your injuries
are minor. Sometimes you will not know the full extent of your injuries
until you complete your medical treatment. It is better to prepare the
case properly, rather than to hope your injuries turn out minor.
Moreover, the amount of your time that is required in assisting us with
your claim is minimal. The majority of our clients settle their cases
without going to court. In all cases that we accept, we are responsible
for the vast majority of work to be performed, and we provide you with
plenty of notice before you need to be involved in the case. We also make
every effort to reduce the disruption to your schedule. Plus, our fee
is a percentage of your recovery, so for smaller cases you will pay a
smaller legal fee.
The person who hit me has no insurance, what should I do?
You may still be entitled to full compensation for your injuries, just
as if the other driver had insurance. This depends on the insurance coverage
available for you from other sources. Don't give up and assume you cannot
recover. Instead, call us and let us investigate available sources of
coverage. There is no cost and no obligation for such a consultation.
Someone ran me off of the road but there was no contact between our cars,
can I make a claim against them?
Absolutely. There is no requirement that there be contact between vehicles
in order for you to make a claim against someone. If the actions of another
driver force you to take evasive maneuvers which result in you getting
in an accident, you have a right to recover against that driver.
We have recovered money on behalf of persons who were run off the road
by drivers switching lanes, pulling in front of them in traffic, and making
illegal turns. In these types of situations, we suggest that you contact
the police immediately after the accident in order to document the happening
of the accident.
In addition, some insurance contracts have requirements that accidents
such as these be reported either to them or the police within a certain
period of time. Accordingly, it is very important that you consult with
I was in a hit-and-run vehicle accident and don't know who hit me, what do I do?
As in cases where the other driver had no insurance, you may still be entitled
to a full recovery for your injuries, depending on the insurance coverage
available to you from other sources. Also, in these types of case, there
may be additional steps you need to take to make such a claim. Again,
the best thing to do is to call us as soon as possible after the accident
so that we can see if we can assist you. There is no cost and no obligation
for a consultation.
What is Underinsured Motorist coverage?
Sometimes the person who hits you doesn't have enough insurance coverage
to cover the damage that he did. If you have underinsured motorist coverage,
you may recover money from your own insurer to cover the amount of your
damages that exceeds the other driver's insurance coverage. For example,
if you have $50,000 in underinsured motorist coverage and you are struck
by someone with $25,000 of insurance, once you exhaust the other driver's
$25,000 in insurance, you may be entitled to an additional $25,000 more
in coverage from your underinsured coverage. There are numerous exceptions
and specific procedures that must be followed to make an underinsured
motorist claim, so speaking to experienced counsel is the best first step.
I have an uninsured motorist claim with my own insurance company, why do
I need an attorney?
When you are seeking recovery from your own insurance company, you will
not deal with your agent, but with an adjuster who will seek to pay as
little as possible (and preferably nothing) on your claim - even though
it's your own insurance company. We frequently are forced to sue our clients'
own insurance companies because they fail to make fair offers in uninsured
motorist claims or simply try to avoid their contractual obligations altogether.
Once you make a claim, your insurance company is looking out for itself
and its bottom line, even with a policy holder (like you) making a claim.
Are cases involving tractor-trailer trucks different from other auto accidents?
Although many car accident attorneys do handle tractor-trailer accidents
as well, there are specific factors that may play an important role in
your case. Like car accidents, truck accidents must be handled on a case-by-case
basis. However, due to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,
specific rules and regulations have been placed on truck drivers and their
vehicles such as the weight of loads, the hours drivers can operate, and
many other factors. By hiring a lawyer who is experienced and skilled
in the area of truck accidents, you can rest easier knowing that your
case is reviewed in detail. Additionally, since many truck accident cases
result in catastrophic injuries and death, accident reconstructionists
are often called to establish liability of the truck driver.
Are cases involving drunk or intoxicated drivers different from other automobile
Yes. In many cases, a toxicologist is called to provide indications in
regard to the other driver’s level of impairment and alcohol consumption.
Many of these types of cases allow the injured victims to pursue punitive
damages from the drunk driver. Additionally, cases involving drunk drivers
will include a criminal case. In such cases, you may be needed to participate
as a witness.