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From Crash to Court: The Essentials of Car Accident Lawsuits

car accident scene - auto accident lawsuit

Navigating the Road to Recovery: Essentials of Car Accident Lawsuits


When you're searching for answers about an auto accident lawsuit, you likely need quick and reliable information without wading through complicated legal jargon. Here's what you need to know upfront:


  • Time is critical: You have a limited period to file a lawsuit, usually set by state-specific statutes of limitations.

  • Liability matters: Determining who is at fault is often the first step in a lawsuit.

  • Types of damages: You're entitled to seek compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and emotional distress.

  • Settlements vs. Trials: Most cases settle before going to trial, but understanding both pathways is essential.


Getting involved in a car accident can change your life instantly. From medical issues to understanding complex legal rules, managing an auto accident lawsuit can be overwhelming. That's where we come in. At Brewer Law Firm, we strive to simplify the journey from crash to court, ensuring you get the support and compensation you deserve.


My name is Nate Brewer, ESQ, and I've dedicated my career to helping personal injury victims like you. With years of experience navigating auto accident lawsuits, I know how crucial it is to have the right guidance and advocacy.


Let’s dive deeper into understanding the essentials of car accident lawsuits and how Brewer Law Firm can help you each step of the way.


Essential Steps in Auto Accident Lawsuit Infographic - auto accident lawsuit infographic infographic-line-5-steps

Understanding Car Accident Lawsuits


Car accident lawsuits can be confusing, but understanding the basics can help you navigate the process more smoothly. Let's break down the essentials, from the types of damages you can claim to proving negligence.


Types of Lawsuits


Car accident lawsuits are typically civil suits filed by the injured party (plaintiff) against the at-fault party (defendant). These lawsuits fall under personal injury claims, where the goal is to recover financial compensation for losses incurred due to the accident.


Types of Damages


When you file an auto accident lawsuit, you can claim several types of damages:


General Damages


These are non-monetary losses that are harder to quantify. They include:

  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress.

  • Loss of Enjoyment: If your injuries prevent you from enjoying daily activities.

  • Emotional Distress: Anxiety, depression, or PTSD resulting from the accident.


Special Damages


These are monetary losses that can be calculated precisely. They include:


  • Medical Expenses: Costs for hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and future medical care.

  • Lost Wages: Income lost due to your inability to work, both past and future.

  • Property Damage: Costs to repair or replace your vehicle.


Medical expenses - auto accident lawsuit

Proving Negligence

To win your car accident lawsuit, you must prove the other driver was negligent. This means showing they failed to act with reasonable care, leading to the accident.


Negligence Claims

Negligence claims rely on demonstrating that the other driver did something wrong, like running a red light or not paying attention.


Traffic Laws

Maryland traffic laws can help establish negligence. For example, if the other driver violated a traffic law, that can be strong evidence of negligence.


Evidence

Gathering solid evidence is crucial. This can include:

  • Police Reports: Officers often determine fault in their reports.

  • Witness Statements: Eyewitnesses can provide valuable accounts of the accident.

  • Medical Records: Documentation of your injuries and treatment.

Police report - auto accident lawsuit

Proving negligence and understanding the types of damages you can claim are just the first steps. Next, we'll look at the immediate actions to take after a car accident and how to file a claim.


Steps to Take After a Car Accident


Right after a car accident, your safety is the priority. Move to a safe location if possible and check for injuries. Call 911 to report the accident and get medical help if needed.

Stay calm and avoid admitting fault. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Gather names and contact details of any witnesses.


Gathering Evidence


Collecting evidence at the scene can make a big difference in your auto accident lawsuit. Take these steps:


  • Photographs: Capture pictures of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries.

  • Police Reports: Obtain a copy of the police report once it's filed. This can be crucial in determining fault.

  • Witness Statements: If there are witnesses, ask them for their contact information and a brief statement of what they saw.


Contacting Insurance

Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Many insurers allow you to file claims via mobile apps, making the process quicker.


Medical Attention

Even if you feel fine, seek medical attention immediately. Some injuries might not be apparent right away. Keep records of all medical treatments, as these will be important for your claim.


Filing a Claim


Insurance Claims

Start your insurance claim promptly. Most policies require you to file within a certain timeframe, often 30 days. Provide all necessary documentation, including:


  • Accident Reports: Police and medical reports.

  • Photographs: Images of the scene and damages.

  • Receipts: Bills for medical treatments and repairs.


Documentation

Accurate documentation is key. Keep a file with all related documents, such as:


  • Medical Bills: Include all treatments and medications.

  • Repair Estimates: For vehicle and property damage.

  • Correspondence: Any letters or emails from insurance companies or other parties.


Deadlines

Maryland has a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit, which is three years from the date of the accident (Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-101). Missing this deadline means you lose the right to sue.


Settlement Process


Negotiations

Once your claim is filed, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case. They will investigate and may offer a settlement.


Insurance Adjusters

Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company, so their goal is to minimize the payout. Be cautious and consider consulting with a lawyer before accepting any offers.


Settlement Timeline

The timeline for settling a claim can vary. Minor claims might resolve quickly, but complex cases can take months or even years. Always ensure that any settlement offer is fair and covers all your expenses.


Average Settlement Amounts


When it comes to auto accident lawsuits, understanding the average settlement amounts can help set your expectations. Let's break down the factors that influence these amounts and look at some specific statistics for Maryland.


Factors Influencing Settlement

Several elements impact the settlement amount you might receive after a car accident. Here's a quick rundown:

  • Injury Severity: The more severe the injury, the higher the settlement. Serious injuries like broken bones or spinal damage lead to higher compensation.

  • Medical Expenses: These include immediate costs like emergency care and long-term treatments like physical therapy.

  • Lost Income: If you miss work due to your injuries, you can claim lost wages. This includes future lost income if you can't return to your previous job.

  • Pain and Suffering: This compensates for emotional distress and reduced quality of life. It's often a significant part of the settlement.


Maryland Specifics

Contributory Negligence: Maryland follows a strict contributory negligence rule. If you're even 1% at fault for the accident, you might not get any compensation. This makes it crucial to gather solid evidence and possibly seek legal help.


Uninsured Motorist Law: If the at-fault driver doesn't have enough insurance, you can file a claim under your own uninsured motorist policy. Maryland requires minimum coverage of $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $15,000 for property damage.


PIP Insurance: Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is no-fault insurance that covers medical expenses and lost wages regardless of who caused the accident. Maryland requires insurers to offer PIP, but you can waive it in writing.


Settlement Amounts by Injury Severity

Here's a look at average settlement amounts based on injury severity in Maryland:

  • Minor Injuries: These include soft tissue injuries like sprains and whiplash. Settlements typically range from $15,000 to $25,000.

  • Moderate Injuries: These involve more serious conditions like broken bones or organ damage. Settlements usually fall between $50,000 and $125,000.

  • Severe Injuries: These are catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries or permanent disabilities. Settlements can range from $200,000 to $500,000 or more.


Maryland Statistics: According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average compensation for a car accident involving bodily injury was $20,235 in 2020. However, this can vary widely based on the factors mentioned above.


Understanding these elements can help you better navigate the settlement process. Next, we'll dive into the legal procedures involved in an auto accident lawsuit.


Legal Process of an Auto Accident Lawsuit

Understanding the legal process of an auto accident lawsuit can make a daunting situation more manageable. Let's break it down step-by-step.


Statute of Limitations

In Maryland, you have three years from the date of your car accident to file a lawsuit. This is known as the statute of limitations and is outlined in Maryland Code Section 5-109.


Exceptions:

  • Minors: If the accident victim is under 18, the three-year period starts once they turn 18.


  • Discovery Rule: Sometimes, injuries or damages are not immediately apparent. The clock starts ticking when the injury is discovered, but this is rare in auto accident cases.


Court Procedures

Once you decide to file a lawsuit, several key steps follow:


Filing

You start by filing a complaint with the appropriate court. In Maryland, if you seek less than $30,000, you file in a District Court. For $30,000 or more, you go to a Circuit Court. Make sure to include all relevant details about your case, including the amount you're seeking in damages.


Discovery

After filing, the discovery phase begins. Both parties gather evidence, which may include:

  • Depositions: Sworn statements from witnesses.

  • Interrogatories: Written questions that must be answered under oath.

  • Document Requests: Exchange of relevant documents like medical records and police reports.


Example: If you claim $50,000 in medical expenses, you’ll need to provide all related medical bills and records.


Trial Process

If your case doesn’t settle during discovery, it moves to trial. Here’s what to expect:

  1. Jury Selection: If it's a jury trial, the jury is selected first.

  2. Opening Statements: Both sides present their version of events.

  3. Presentation of Evidence: Witnesses testify, and documents are presented.

  4. Closing Arguments: Both sides summarize their case.

  5. Jury Deliberation: The jury considers the evidence and reaches a verdict.

  6. Verdict: The court announces the decision.


Example: In a recent Maryland case, the plaintiff’s medical bills and expert testimony convinced the jury to award $100,000 in damages.


Maryland Specifics

Maryland follows a contributory negligence rule. If you’re even 1% at fault, you can be barred from receiving any compensation. This makes it crucial to gather robust evidence proving the other party's full liability.


Conclusion

Navigating the legal process of an auto accident lawsuit in Maryland involves understanding the statute of limitations, court procedures, and the specific rules that apply. Next, we’ll address some frequently asked questions about auto accident lawsuits to clear up any lingering doubts.


Frequently Asked Questions about Auto Accident Lawsuits


How much to expect from a car accident settlement in Maryland?

The amount you can expect from a car accident settlement in Maryland varies widely based on the severity of your injuries and other factors.


Minor injuries such as back strains or soft tissue injuries might settle between $10,000 to $50,000.


Moderate injuries like a broken leg or ruptured spleen could see settlements from $50,000 to $200,000.


Severe injuries including death or brain injuries can result in settlements ranging from $200,000 to $10,000,000.


These are averages. Your specific case might be higher or lower depending on the details of your claim. For more information on how settlements are calculated, refer to our detailed guide on settlement amounts.


How much compensation for whiplash?

Whiplash is a common injury in car accidents and can range from mild to severe. Compensation for whiplash in Maryland usually falls into the minor injury category.

Mild whiplash cases might settle for $10,000 to $20,000.


Severe whiplash cases, especially those involving long-term pain and suffering, can go up to $100,000 or more.


The exact amount depends on medical expenses, lost wages, and the impact on your daily life. Consult our whiplash compensation guide for more details.


What is the average settlement for a drunk driving accident in Maryland?

Drunk driving accidents often result in higher settlements due to the reckless nature of the behavior. In Maryland, settlements for these cases can be substantial.


Minor injuries in a drunk driving accident might settle for $50,000 to $100,000.


Moderate to severe injuries can see settlements from $200,000 up to several million dollars.

These amounts consider not just medical expenses and lost wages, but also punitive damages aimed at punishing the drunk driver. For more information, check our drunk driving accident settlements.


Next, we'll summarize the key points and provide contact information for Brewer Law Firm, ensuring you know how to reach out for personalized help.


Conclusion

Navigating an auto accident lawsuit can be challenging, but understanding the essentials can make the process smoother. From gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance companies and understanding Maryland-specific laws like contributory negligence, being informed is crucial.


At Brewer Law Firm, we specialize in personal injury cases, including car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents. Our mission is to prioritize people over profits, ensuring you get the best possible outcome for your case.


If you've been injured in an auto accident and need expert legal help, don't hesitate to reach out.


Contact Us Today for a free consultation and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.


Brewer Law Firm PA

We look forward to assisting you.

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