How Should I Handle a Personal Injury Claim in Baltimore?
Personal injuries arise from accidents in which the victim could not have anticipated such an event. In Baltimore, there are countless locations where clients could be injured through no fault of their own, and they deserve representation from a Baltimore personal injury lawyer.
Cases such as these require a lawyer who has dealt with accidents of this nature in the past. Accident victims also need to know how to respond when an accident occurs. Families could be severely affected by the financial and emotional toll of these accidents. Someone could be killed, and the family must file suit to recover damages and move on with their lives. Victims should allow a lawyer to step in and seek the restitution that should be paid to the victims.
Which Personal Injuries are Compensable?
Many victims who have been hurt do not know that they could be compensated for their injuries. Victims often assume that they have bad luck or that there is no legal recourse for their injuries. This is simply not the case. Injuries fall into the following categories:
Recreational injuries: Recreational injuries occur outdoors or in places that are meant to be fun, relaxing, and/or exciting. For example, amusement parks are wonderful places to take the family, but the rides at theme parks can be dangerous. Slippery ground can cause injuries when someone falls, and it only gets worse when it is raining or snowing. The same is true if a family visits a local park where the playground has not been maintained properly or the grounds cause slip and fall accidents. Something as simple as an exposed sprinkler on a ball field could cause a severe injury.
Boating accidents are common in Maryland. Someone who is on their boat and is struck by another boat has grounds for a lawsuit. The same is true if someone is sitting on a dock or pier and is struck by a wayward vessel. Boats must be properly maintained by their owners because equipment and lighting malfunctions can leave the vessel in a dangerous situation. Carbon monoxide leaks from the motor could sicken or kill passengers, and intoxicated pilots should be held accountable when they cause accidents.
Dog bites can occur when owners do not control their pets. Dogs are to be kept on leashes no longer than eight feet, and their owners must be in control of their pets when not inside a dedicated dog park.
Hoverboards often malfunction and cause major falls. The motors or batteries could start a fire, or the hoverboard might accelerate without any prompting. The manufacturer of the hoverboard or its parts can be held accountable for any injuries.
Construction accidents: A construction worker could be hurt on their worksite, and they should be covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance. These workers, however, are not the only people who could be injured by construction equipment, tools, vehicles, or debris. Construction in the middle of a bustling city, such as Baltimore, will bring innocent people close to the action. Therefore, someone who is walking past a large building project could be injured by falling debris. Tools could malfunction and throw debris at a passerby, or all the debris that has fallen to the ground could make the sidewalk or road surface so slick that pedestrians slip and fall.
Additionally, standing water near a worksite might be electrified by a frayed wire or faulty outlet. Cranes could fall over in the middle of the city, construction vehicles could strike pedestrians or passenger vehicles, and construction companies might expose the public to toxic chemicals or fumes. When a construction accident occurs, victims should reach out to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Complaining or threatening the construction company will not settle the case. These corporations are staffed with in-house lawyers, and victims should have a legal team on their side.
Failure to uphold the duty of care: The duty of care is most often applied to medical malpractice cases because doctors take the Hippocratic Oath in which they pledge to do no harm. At the same time, manufacturers, businesses, building managers, government authorities, and even homeowners have a duty of care to their guests or customers.
Slip and fall accidents demonstrate a breakdown in the duty of care when floors, sidewalks, or roads were not maintained appropriately. Manufacturers shirk their duty of care to drivers and passengers when they do not recall defective vehicles or use quality parts. Homeowners and business owners must also maintain their properties to prevent injuries. If the property is a dangerous place to go, the duty of care has not been met and someone could get hurt. A personal injury lawyer should review these cases to determine who was negligent because several parties could be held liable for a single incident.
Prolonged exposure to toxic substances: Prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals or substances is a hidden problem for which workers and the public may not even be aware. A business might expose its employees to toxic substances for years without knowing the ramifications of said exposure. Also, the public might be exposed to toxic chemicals or substances without their knowledge.
Employees exposed to toxic chemicals may file suit for their injuries or damages. Members of the public can do the same if they were exposed to chemicals that were buried underground, contaminated water, or noxious fumes improperly released from a worksite.
Asbestos exposure is a major issue for employees in the manufacturing and construction industries. Although a business that is still in operation can be sued for malicious or hidden exposure to asbestos, corporations that have since gone bankrupt or closed their doors are still liable for asbestos exposure and mesothelioma diagnoses.
A trust was likely set up when the business folded or was subject to a class action lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer can help the affected party file a claim against an existing asbestos trust. The trust needs documentation that a lawyer can draw up and present with the claim.
Medical malpractice: Medical malpractice cases occur any time the duty of care breaks down between the doctor, nurse, or other medical professional and the patient. A doctor might ignore complaints of pain, headaches, a lingering cough, joint pain, muscle weakness, or anything else that points to a potential medical condition.
Doctors and nurses could easily test the patient to determine the cause of the condition, but they might rush through the patient’s examination instead. Someone who is already in the hospital or a medical clinic might be ignored when they need emergent medical care, and someone who is in the emergency room might wait for a long time because their condition has not been prioritized.
Medical malpractice can, in some cases, involve a surgical tool that is left inside a patient. Other examples of malpractice include surgeries that are performed on the wrong person and unnecessary procedures. Doctors who write the wrong prescriptions or do not prescribe necessary medications can also be held liable for medical malpractice. If a doctor knows a patient has asthma and does not prescribe a rescue inhaler, that doctor is clearly not upholding their duty of care to the patient.
Birth injuries are also a serious matter that parents should not accept. A child could be disabled during birth, and the doctor or midwife may have been negligent. Some doctors use far too much force when delivering a baby, or they use medical equipment improperly. The mother’s cesarean section may have been performed in a dangerous or ill-advised manner, or the baby might not have been tended to properly after the birth. Aside from a range of palsies and deformities that could occur, the child might need a lifetime of medical care. Patients and their families should reach out to a lawyer when they know or suspect that medical malpractice has occurred.
Vehicle accidents: Car accidents are common across Baltimore. Truck accidents also occur quite often because drivers are stuck in the truck driver’s blind spot. Massive loads on these trucks might also spill or tip over because they are not secured properly. Passenger vehicles collide because of driver distraction, intoxication, or poor road or weather conditions. Large trucks are even more difficult to drive than cars, and drivers are advised to keep clear of trailers or cargo vehicles.
Leaving a wide berth for a large truck helps protect everyone, and drivers should leave a larger stopping distance to prevent pileups or rear-end crashes. Motorists should also be on the lookout for pedestrians, motorcycles, or bicyclists on the road. If an accident occurs, a lawyer should review the circumstances of the crash as soon as possible.
Train accidents: Train accidents and derailments involve liability on several levels. Drivers might pass through railroad crossings that have malfunctioned. Trains might derail and cause injuries or damage, and these trains could even spew toxic fumes exposing the community to even more harm. When a train derails, the train operator, federal government, and/or local government can be held liable for not maintaining the trains or the tracks. The government can also be held liable when the train causes malfunctions.
A railroad traffic controller might have forgotten to tell a certain train to slow down or stop, forgotten to switch a train onto different tracks, or might not have communicated with locomotive engineers before a preventable accident. A personal injury lawyer can review the details of the accident before filing a lawsuit because multiple entities could be responsible. In addition to rail accidents, passengers on commuter trains could be injured as a result of the negligence of the operator. Even those standing on the platform could be injured or even killed because the station was not managed properly.
Nursing home abuse: Nursing home abuse is a serious matter that should be taken seriously if the family ever believes that their elderly loved ones have been mistreated. Nursing home staff practically have free reign of an assisted living facility, and the seniors who live there are often powerless to do anything if they have been abused. Nursing home abuse entails the following categories:
Sexual and physical abuse are often easy to spot because seniors might have suspicious marks or bruises. Signs of mental abuse and neglect include the following:
- Bed sores
- Loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Weight loss
- Poor personal hygiene
Mental abuse and negligence might include leaving residents in their rooms all day, not providing food or medicine, or even ignoring requests for assistance when bathing or going to the bathroom. Victims also withdraw from friends and loved ones because of this type of abuse.
Financial abuse might occur if someone working inside the nursing home is stealing money from an elderly resident or has somehow convinced that resident to allow them to manage their money. The abuser can clear out bank accounts and run up credit card balances before the family ever notices. Even if the abuser does not have access to bank accounts or credit cards, they might have stolen and sold the victim’s personal items. Families should contact a personal injury lawyer the moment nursing home abuse is suspected.
What is an Intentional Tort?
An intentional tort can be filed when malice is involved in a personal injury case. For example, a co-worker who was acting inappropriately and caused an injury on the job can be sued for their negligence. If that co-worker maliciously caused the accident or injury, they can be sued with intentional tort. An intentional tort opens the defendant to punitive damages that are not capped, except in the case of medical malpractice. Punitive damages will be awarded by the jury when it is obvious that deliberate actions caused the accident and intended to harm, disfigure, or kill the victim. Intentional torts can also be used for cases in which any of the following occurred:
- Malicious intent or intentional emotional distress
- False imprisonment
These cases can be difficult to prove, and that is why it is important to hire a personal injury lawyer to manage the case.
What is Contributory Negligence?
Contributory negligence is a concept used in Maryland and a few other states to adjudicate personal injury cases. A victim who contributed even one percent to their accident is unable to collect damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer can formulate a legal strategy that shows the victim did not contribute to their accident. Because contributory negligence is still used in Maryland, victims should not speak to anyone about their accident aside from their lawyer. Insurance companies will record phone calls and look for anything that might allow them to deny coverage. Representatives and lawyers from the defendant might contact the victim looking for anything that will give them an advantage.
Even more disturbing is the manner in which medical professionals might use contributory negligence to their advantage. A doctor might say that the patient did not ask for help in the appropriate amount of time or that the patient somehow violated the mandates of their treatment plan. Therefore, victims should speak to a lawyer before engaging in settlement talks or signing documents.
Will Insurance Cover My Injuries?
Insurance coverage is supposed to pay for a victim’s injuries after a range of accidents, but that does not mean that the coverage will be paid properly. The insurance company might attempt to deny coverage based on a wide variety of reasons from information pertaining to the accident to the extent of the victim’s injuries and perceived fault in the accident.
Insurance companies should be challenged if they are not willing to pay for coverage. Additionally, a personal injury lawyer should carefully review the client’s insurance policy before filing a claim or challenging the carrier’s decision. Complaining to the insurance company does little to no good. A letter or phone call from a lawyer gets the attention of these companies by showing them that the victim is taking the matter seriously.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Accident victims should hire a lawyer when it is clear that they have been hurt through no fault of their own. Accidents and injuries are challenging to handle, and hiring a lawyer helps the victim focus on their medical treatment and getting back to work. It is especially important to hire a lawyer when the responsible parties are suddenly calling, sending letters, or sending attorneys to visit the victim. The victim should forward all communication to a personal injury lawyer to review. The lawyer is a trained negotiator who also understands what these entities or individuals will do to avoid liability.
If the accident victim is incapacitated, the family should hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Medical bills will pile up quickly, and there is no need to wait until the victim is capable of making these decisions. When the victim has died in the accident or due to their injuries, the family should hire a lawyer who can begin working on the case immediately.
When families wait too long to start working with a lawyer, the evidence in the case might be difficult to unearth. For example, a car accident does not require a full investigation from the police. The report written by the responding officer is a cursory summary of events. A lawyer is the appropriate person to uncover the facts behind the accident.
Can I Collect Evidence Pertaining to My Case?
Although accident victims and their families should not speak to the parties responsible for their injuries, victims and families may want to collect as much evidence as possible pertaining to the case. Accident victims might try to do the following:
- Collect pictures and videos from the accident scene.
- Speak to witnesses.
- Call the police to have an official report filed.
- Collect medical records and receipts to show that care was sought immediately and consistently.
Accident victims and their families should not attempt to launch an investigation of their own. Even more important, however, is that accident victims should not feel compelled to apologize for getting hurt. Any apology can be misconstrued as an admission of guilt, and that alone could be used to invalidate any claim made for injuries because it appears as though the victim must have done something to cause the accident.
How Do I Decide to Pursue a Lawsuit?
Accident victims should not decide to sue on their own. A personal injury law firm should be involved in the decision-making process. A lawyer knows if the case merits a lawsuit. A lawyer can attempt to settle the case out of court, and the victim might receive the compensation that they need. A lawyer also knows when the case should go to court. Accident victims are in pain and need answers, but they most likely cannot decide how far the case should go. A lawyer can explain when the victim has gotten the best possible deal, and the attorney will use their industry experience to explain how the case might proceed in court.
For Which Types of Damages am I Entitled?
Damages caused by an accident or someone else’s negligence can range from simple to complex. A personal injury lawyer will petition for damages, including the following:
- All medical expenses, including physical therapy, medication, counseling, and future procedures
- Lost earnings
- Lost earning potential when the victim cannot return to work as they would have before the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages as awarded by a jury for recklessness or malice
Although a lawyer cannot calculate the exact amount of money that the client can recover, the lawyer will use industry standards to carefully calculate the total value of the case. A settlement negotiation might involve an adjustment of these figures to close the case as quickly as possible. A judge or jury, however, might reward that exact amount or even more depending on the evidence presented.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Claim in Maryland?
The statute of limitations in Maryland for a personal injury claim is three years, unless the victim is suing a government agency. Victims and their attorneys have one year to file suit against a government entity. Victims must come forward as soon as possible to avoid delays. The court will not accept a case in which the statute of limitations has expired.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Maryland?
The state of Maryland imposes a three-year statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits. Additionally, the state has a clear limit on who can file these claims. The rules in Maryland prevent everyone in the deceased’s life from filing a lawsuit at the same time. When speaking to a personal injury law firm, the claimant must be one of the following:
- The spouse, child, or parent of the deceased.
- When the deceased is not survived by a spouse, child, or parent, anyone related by blood or marriage may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
In addition to these requirements, the claimant must show that they were dependent on the deceased in one manner or another.
Baltimore Personal Injury Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Damages for Innocent Victims
Reach out to the Baltimore personal injury lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton for assistance with any personal injury case. Our skilled legal team will walk you through every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. We will not stop fighting for you until justice has been served. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.