The time following a car accident can be confusing. It is likely that you have several questions about what you should do next and who you should talk to.
The team at Goldberg Finnegan understands the many questions car accident victims have. For this reason, our Silver Spring car accident attorneys have provided answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about car accidents.
Through our decades of experience helping car accident victims, we understand your frustration and can help guide you through the process after an accident. We can help you file a claim with your insurance provider and work to make sure you receive the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
The first thing you should do following an accident is get to a safe place. If you suffered injuries, contact local law enforcement and seek immediate medical care. Once the police arrive, you will be asked to provide your account of what happened. This is important for the officer to determine the cause of the accident and build an accident report. You should be careful, however, give the officer the facts, but do not offer your opinion as to whose fault the crash was. If you are able, you should attempt to collect as much information as possible, including:
- The names, phone numbers, addresses and driver’s license numbers of the other drivers involved
- Photographs of the accident scene, the involved vehicles, the road, any skid marks and your injuries
- The names, phone numbers and addresses of witnesses (get their email address too)
- Take notes about the accident
Should I Get Medical Treatment After an Accident?
Yes. Even if your injuries appear minor, it is a good idea to get checked out after a car crash. It is best to have your injuries checked immediately to ensure they are not more severe than you think. Some injuries may not appear immediately, so you should also seek medical care if you feel any kind of discomfort or pain in the days following an accident. Going to the hospital or seeing a doctor will establish a record of your injury that ties it to the accident. It will also document how seriously you were injured. These are important pieces of information that will be vital for supporting your injury claim.
Should I Notify My Insurance Company of the Accident?
Yes, you should always notify your insurance company after an accident. Most insurance providers require that policyholders report accidents soon after they happen, and It is important that you cooperate with your insurance company.
Do Not Give A Recorded Statement About The Accident, Even To Your Own Insurance Company, Until You Have Spoken To A Lawyer.
Most insurance policies require that you cooperate. Even so, it is fine to tell the adjuster that you want to speak to your lawyer before agreeing to a recorded statement.
You should provide the insurance adjuster with the necessary information about your accident and injuries. However, you should never forget that insurance companies are not on your side and can use anything you say against you to reduce the value of your claim or even deny it altogether.
If you are asked to provide a written or recorded statement, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced attorney about what you should and should not say prior to giving the statement.
Who Pays for My Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
Your Health Insurance
Your health insurance will likely cover your health care bills following an accident just as it would cover any other illness or injury you suffer. However, if you obtain a settlement for your accident claim, you generally will have to pay back most of what your health insurance paid (this is referred to as a health insurance lien or subrogation).
Most of the time we advise our clients to use their health insurance for accident-related treatment. This is counter-intuitive when the car accident was not your fault, but it will usually result in the client putting the most money in their pocket at the end of the day. This occurs because most health insurance policies contract with medical providers to pay less than the full billed amount. Then, the lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan will try to get the health insurance lien reduced further.
Personal Injury Protection Insurance / Med-Pay
Most insurance policies in Maryland are required to provide at least $2,500 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. Unless you waived these benefits when you purchased your policy, PIP can be used to pay for reasonable and necessary medical bills acquired within three years after an accident. It can also cover 85 percent of lost wages and funeral expenses. We generally suggest that our clients use their health insurance to pay for treatment and then also make a PIP Claim. This is a double recovery that is generally allowed under Maryland law.
These PIP benefits are available regardless of who caused the crash, and will usually cover the named insurer on the policy, family members of the named insured, passengers in the insured vehicle and pedestrians struck by the insured vehicle.
The Application for PIP Benefits generally must be filed within one year of the crash in Maryland.
The At-Fault Party
In addition to filing a PIP claim with your own insurance provider, Maryland law also allows injury victims to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company for all medical expenses and lost wages. This is because Maryland law states that PIP benefits are payable without regard to any collateral sources of benefits.
It is important to note, however, that the at-fault insurance company will only provide one full and final settlement. It will not cover your health care costs as they come. Because of this, you will not receive this payment until your injuries have healed and you have reached a final settlement with the insurer. That is why initially you should generally pay with your health insurance and/or PIP.
What if the At-Fault Driver Fled the Scene After the Crash?
In Maryland, hit-and-run accidents are treated as an uninsured driver. Fortunately, Maryland Insurance Code Annotated Section 19-509 requires that all insurance policies in the state provide uninsured motorist coverage. This also covers accidents involving motorists who remain at the scene but do not have any insurance coverage or do not have enough coverage to cover your claim.
This means that if a driver flees the scene of the accident, you will file a claim with your own insurance company for uninsured motorist benefits. You would also file a claim for uninsured motorist benefits if your uninsured coverage exceeds the amount of liability coverage that the at fault driver has (sometimes called an underinsured motorist claim).
What Should I Do if I was a Passenger in a Car Accident?
If you are injured in a car accident as a passenger, you will have a claim against the at-fault driver, whether that person was driving the vehicle you were in or the other vehicle that caused the accident. Often, passenger car accident claims are easier to file than those for a driver because the passenger had no control over the vehicle and therefore does not have to worry about proving liability, as one of the drivers will be liable. There is usually no “contributory negligence” defense against a passenger claim. However, if you were injured as a passenger in a multi-car accident, determining liability and who pays your compensation can become complicated. For this reason, you should consult a car accident injury lawyer.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim In Maryland?
The statute of limitations for negligence claims in Maryland is generally three years from the date of the injury/crash. Minors would have until their 21st birthday to file a negligence claim. There may also be shorter notice requirements for claims against governmental entities and/or the state. You should consult an attorney with regard to specific deadlines in your case, as every case is different.
If you are filing a PIP claim, you must file the PIP Application with the insurance company within one year of the date of the accident. However, you should file your claim as soon as possible.
If you need to file a personal injury lawsuit after an accident to obtain the compensation you deserve, you have three years from the date of the accident to do so.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule, including for claims against the government, which require you provide notice of an intent to file a claim within 180 days, and claims involving children, which may cause the statute of limitations to begin on the child’s 18th birthday.
Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
If you have suffered severe injuries or are having difficulty obtaining the compensation you need after an accident, you should always consult an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Our attorneys will investigate your accident, determine who was liable and what compensation you can recover. We will gather all of the necessary evidence to build and support your claim.
We will also handle all of the details of your claim for you, from working with the insurance company on your behalf to filing a lawsuit if it is in your best interest.
We will work tirelessly on your behalf in our attempt to recover the compensation you need for your injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation to learn more. Because we work on a contingency fee basis, we charge no upfront fees. We will only require payment if we recover compensation for you.