Let Our Laurel Accident Law Firm Help You with Your Injury Claim or Insurance Negotiations
One often hears the phrase, “but I didn’t mean to…it was an accident!” In the normal course of everyday life, the act of causing someone minor harm — stepping on someone’s toe, knocking someone’s bag out of their hand , etc. — can be excused if it was accidental. The same rules do not necessarily apply in the legal world, where the harm is often much greater and the accident was the result of a serious lack of judgment. Most personal injury claims that arise out of accidents are based in the law of negligence, which is the legal theory that assigns blame and assesses damages. Below, we will cover the basics of legal fault and its remedies. For more information about how we can help with your case, please contact our Laurel accident law firm.
The Basics of Fault for Maryland Liability
A personal injury claim can arise in a host of accidents. At the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles, we have over 30 years of experience in handling all types of personal injury claims including the following:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Bus accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Wrongful death claims
- Medical malpractice claims
- Slip and fall accidents
- Premises liability claims
- Nursing home abuse and neglect cases
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Dangerous or defective products
No matter what type of accident, an experienced Laurel personal injury lawyer can help you get fair compensation if you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence.
Under the law of negligence, individuals expose themselves to legal liability (i.e., fault) when they cause others injury by engaging in conduct that falls outside certain socially-expected norms. To prove negligence, a plaintiff must prove each of its four elements:
- Duty: The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care (i.e., the duty to refrain from causing harm by behaving as a reasonably prudent person would in the same or similar circumstances)
- Breach: The defendant breached that duty by engaging in conduct that fell below the defendant’s duty of care
- Causation: The defendant’s breach actually caused the plaintiff’s injury
- Damages: The plaintiff suffered harm (i.e., damages) due to the defendant’s breach
An experienced Laurel accident law firm can evaluate your accident in light of the law of negligence and help to determine the strength of your case. Readers should note, however, that Maryland is a contributory negligence jurisdiction, meaning that plaintiffs who were partially at fault for their own injuries can’t recover damages. It is thus essential for plaintiffs in Maryland to prove that the defendant was 100% at fault to recover.
Winning Compensation in Personal Injury Cases
After determining that the defendant was legally at fault for the accident, the next step is to quantify the victim’s damages that the defendant will pay to the plaintiff. There is no fixed amount of damages that an injured plaintiff is entitled to receive. Rather, the goal of awarding damages in personal injury cases is to make the plaintiff “whole, ” or to put the plaintiff in the same position he or she would have been in had the accident not occurred. To do so, courts award two main types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are designed to compensate the victim for discrete categories of economic losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and property damages. Compensatory damages can also include damages for non-economic injuries such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life. Punitive damages, meanwhile, are designed to punish the defendant if the court finds that his or her conduct was particularly vicious or intentional.
3 Ways to Recover Financial Compensation After an Accident in Maryland
1. Filing a Claim for Negligence
Most personal injury claims involve negligence claims. If someone else made a mistake that led to your injury, then you may be able to file a negligence-based claim. Some of the most common examples of negligence in Southern Maryland include:
- Driving while distracted, drunk or high
- Speeding, tailgating, or running a red light or stop sign
- Failing to clean up a spill
- Failing to treat or remove snow or ice
- Providing substandard care at a nursing home or hospital
- Failing to diagnose an illness or injury accurately
- Hiring inexperienced or untrained workers
To file a personal injury claim based on negligence, you need to be able to prove that someone else’s mistake led to your injury. As a result, it is important that you hire a Laurel injury lawyer to conduct an investigation as soon as possible.
2. Filing a Claim Based on the Law of Strict Liability
In some instances, proof of negligence is not required. If the law of “strict liability” governs your claim, you can seek compensation without evidence of negligence. In Maryland, if a defective product injured you, an experienced Laurel accident lawyer can help you pursue a strict liability claim against the product’s manufacturer.
3. Filing a No-Fault Insurance Claim
The third way to recover financial compensation after an accident is to file a no-fault insurance claim. This applies specifically to car accidents. If you have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage under your auto insurance policy, then you can file a claim regardless of who was at fault in your collision.
How the Personal Injury Claim Process Works in Maryland
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. In order to receive compensation, however, you will need to pursue a monetary claim for your injuries and other losses.
Step 1: Submitting an Insurance Claim
When you are injured in an accident, the first step is to report your accident to the insurance company. They will ask you several questions about the accident such as when and where the accident occurred. You should be very careful not to speculate as to who may be at fault. In addition, you should be careful not to make any definitive statements as to the extent of your injuries until you receive a thorough medical examination and are certain.
The insurance company may require you to submit various documents in order to prove your claim, such as an accident report, your medical records, or proof of your lost wages. This can be a lot to manage when you’re injured. A Laurel personal injury lawyer can help you submit your claim to the insurance company.
Step 2: Settling Your Claim
Once the insurance company has all of the information it needs, it may then attempt to settle your claim. It is important to understand that it is up to you to determine whether you accept their offer. You are free to reject it and attempt to negotiate for a higher amount. It is quite common for insurance companies to attempt to settle your claim for less than what it is actually worth. This step in the process can be quite challenging for non-lawyers, but a Laurel personal injury lawyer can ensure that you get a fair settlement of your claim.
Step 3: Litigation
Some claims aren’t able to settle. This may be because there is a fundamental disagreement over the facts or it could be because the insurance company is refusing to make a fair settlement of your claim. At this point, your only option to receive compensation is to file a lawsuit and go to court.
Unfortunately, the legal process is complex and difficult for non-lawyers to navigate. Failing to follow the proper procedures, missing a deadline, or failing to submit documents can result in your claim being dismissed. Rather than risk your claim, we recommend that you speak with a Laurel personal injury attorney before going to court.
How Do You Know When It is Time to Settle Your Injury Claim?
As an accident victim, it is up to you to decide when to settle. If you hire a Laurel injury attorney to represent you, your lawyer will help you understand how much you are entitled to recover, and your lawyer will help you make an informed decision about when (and if) to settle your personal injury claim.
Contact a Laurel Accident Law Firm Today
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you should speak to an attorney to evaluate your case. To get started, contact the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles — a Laurel accident law firm — by calling 301-723-7076 or filling out our online form.