Have Questions About Auto Accidents?

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 your vehicle.

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 us immediately.

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 accidents?

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.