What Should I Know About Car Accidents in Maryland?
Maryland is a busy state that features numerous highways. Because the state features two major cities, traffic can be difficult to avoid. Accidents occur as people drive through Maryland to Washington, D.C. and up to Baltimore and into the northeast. Drivers need to know how to avoid accidents, but they must also be prepared for the unique traffic conditions that can be found in Maryland. The state is also bordered by major bodies of water, which makes travel even more difficult.
There are about 16 million car accidents each year that cause up to $250 billion in damage in America. Maryland experiences 100,000 accidents each year alone, even though the state is not large. Maryland has rural roads that approach the coast and inlets which are dangerous for both pedestrians and motorists. Bicyclists, motorcyclists, large trucks, and even transport vehicles can be entangled in serious crashes that cause injuries and death. As a result, drivers must be careful on the road. Additionally, it is wise to hire a Maryland car accident lawyer who can protect the rights of accident victims and their families. Major and even minor accidents cause issues that are difficult to manage without legal counsel.
How Can I Avoid Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Car accidents are caused by a range of activities and issues on the road. Drivers need to know what could happen and how to avoid these accidents. Accidents are caused by the following factors:
Distracted driving: Distracted drivers kill thousands of people in Maryland each year, and they continue to harm motorists as a result of an accelerated level of comfort with modern technology. Drivers get behind the wheel assuming that they can multi-task. Sadly, multi-tasking in a vehicle is extremely dangerous. A driver who looks away from the road to answer a text can travel several hundred feet. Although they do not realize how fast they are going, distracted driving is extremely dangerous and can cause catastrophic accidents.
Speeding: This factored into 26 percent of car accidents in 2018, showing that drivers have not taken speed limits and road safety campaigns seriously. While motorists might be in a hurry to get to work, they also pass through Maryland with several hundred miles to go in their respective journeys. Slowing down increases one’s visibility and reaction time.
Aggressive drivers: These drivers cause crashes every day because they are willing to cut through traffic and create dangerous situations for other drivers. If an aggressive driver is easy to see, other drivers should avoid them as much as possible. Additionally, aggressive drivers should be reported to local authorities when possible. Someone who is simply having a bad day could use their aggressive driving tactics to anger other drivers, which can cause accidents, force drivers off the road, or even end in violent altercations. Drivers should avoid any rude gestures or aggressive language that has been hurled their way.
Defective vehicles: Vehicle issues can cause accidents purely because they do not work properly. Cars have been known to accelerate on their own, lose braking power, lose steering control, or fall apart on the highway. If the manufacturer was aware of a recall that should have been initiated, that manufacturer can be held liable for the crash. A company that made the defective part could be held liable, and even a mechanic who improperly repairs vehicles could be sued for damages because they allowed a dangerous car back onto the road.
Poor road conditions: These issues cause accidents every day as drivers run over potholes or pass by construction sites with debris in the road. It is important for drivers to know that they could be harmed by poor road conditions. Someone who is not paying attention could run over an especially large pothole and be thrown off course. Additionally, that driver might hit debris in the road that could cause them to lose control of their vehicle.
Poor weather conditions: Rain, wind, and snow can make roads extremely slick, and drivers who are not cognizant of the local road conditions could slide or skid into someone else, as well as lose control of their vehicle. If wind and rain is especially bad, drivers might want to consider staying home or waiting for the weather to pass. Because Maryland is a mid-Atlantic state, hurricanes and major storms can create dangerous conditions throughout the year. Snow in the winter should also be avoided unless the roads have been cleared by municipal crews. Even if the road has been cleared and salted, drivers should slow down due to black ice.
How Do I Maneuver Around Other Cars on the Road?
When drivers are stuck on the road with other vehicles, they need to know how to move around these vehicles and avoid accidents. Even in rural areas, large trucks, cars, bicycles, and motorcycles can be found speeding down what appear to be empty country lanes. Pedestrians often walk on these roads, and drivers should slow down to avoid any accidents. Drivers need to know how to drive around all vehicles, including:
Large trucks: Large trucks travel across the country every day. They often travel through Maryland to get to their intended destinations and are dedicated to industries that supply large cities. Because there are many large trucks driving through the state, it is impossible to avoid them. Drivers, however, can slow down and give large trucks a wide berth. It is unwise to cut off large trucks because they cannot make emergency stops. A large truck that is forced to ride its brakes could overheat and lose all braking power. Additionally, a large truck could be up to 20 times heavier than a car. When and if a crash occurs, the consequences could be devastating.
Motorcycles: Motorcycles are difficult to see because they often zip through traffic. Motorcyclists might ride in a driver’s blind spot or ride far too close to other vehicles. Drivers across Maryland should be aware of the presence of motorcyclists and what could happen if a car and a motorcycle are involved in a crash. Motorcyclists are required to wear helmets, but they do not have restraint systems that protect them in the event of a crash. Slow down, let a motorcyclist pass, and do not cut them off.
Bicycles: Bicyclists should be treated with similar care. A bicycle, however, might have its own lane. Drivers should not cut across these lanes without first looking out for bicyclists. Bicyclists also use the shoulder like pedestrians and can be difficult to see, especially at night.
Pedestrians: Pedestrians may be on the curb when a large truck cuts a corner, or they might dart into the street when no one is looking. Drivers need to look out for pedestrians and allow them to cross whenever possible. There are also special crosswalks that have signals designed to give pedestrians control over when they cross. Drivers should abide by these signals.
How Can I Avoid Accidents Specific to Maryland?
The roads of Maryland are filled with vehicles that serve specific purposes. These vehicles are often difficult to control and drive around. Because Maryland has 3,190 miles of coastline, boats are common. Someone who is merely driving from Point A to Point B could come across wayward boat carriers. Boats may not be rigged correctly when hitched to trailers, and the boat could slide off the carrier at any time. Large loads could begin to sway, and the boat could tip over while it is still attached to the truck. The trailer could jackknife, or the boat might slide across the road.
Drivers are encouraged to move away from large boat carriers, pass quickly, and/or leave a proper stopping distance. Because a boat can obscure the driver’s view of traffic, emergency stops might not be effective. While the state has a large coastline, the timber industry is four times more valuable than the seafood industry. Timber trailers can be found all over the state, and they often have massive loads that do not fit neatly into the metal frame used by most carriers.
A tiny red or orange flag might have been hung from the timber that juts out the farthest, but it is difficult to judge distances using such a small item. Passenger car drivers should slow down and go around large timber carriers for safety. Additionally, the timber could slide off the truck at any time. In both cases, the truck driver, trucking company, truck leasing company, or even the crew that loaded the carrier could be held liable for damages. Because third-party liability can stretch far, it helps to have a Maryland car accident lawyer properly investigate the case.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
Drivers and passengers may not be prepared when an accident occurs. Those who are injured may need assistance from passengers or bystanders. While it is impossible to react to an accident perfectly, these steps should be followed as closely as possible in the wake of an accident on Maryland roads:
- Move to a safe location. Many drivers and passengers are hurt when they remain in the roadway because they are trying to assess the accident scene. When in doubt, move off the road as quickly as possible.
- Call 911. When ambulance, fire, and police units arrive, they can provide immediate care to those who are injured. Someone who seems to have little to no injuries still needs to be checked out by an EMT. Anyone who requires medical care should go to the hospital immediately. At the very least, someone with exceptionally minor injuries can go to the doctor the next day.
- Ask for the police report number. The police officer is not bound by law to do a full investigation of the crash. They draw a rudimentary diagram of the accident scene, determine fault, and submit the report. Do not say anything to the officer that could be construed as fault and do not apologize to other motorists. They might think that anyone who is apologizing caused the crash.
- Exchange information. Personal and insurance information at the accident scene should be shared with those involved in the accident. No one should be allowed to leave the scene without completing this task.
- Take pictures of the accident scene. A police officer is not going to thoroughly investigate the crash. Passengers and drivers need pictures and videos of the accident scene that better explain what occurred.
- Obtain witness accounts. Find eyewitnesses who might have congregated around the accident scene. Rubberneckers and bystanders who gather around the accident scene may provide information that might be helpful. Ask these people if they will share their story and their contact information.
- Seek legal counsel. Call a Maryland car accident lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer needs to see all the evidence from the accident scene, along with the accident report.
Which Injuries Should I Check for After a Car Accident?
Drivers and passengers should be checked out by an EMT in the wake of an accident. While some people feel okay after an accident, they need to be checked for injuries that are not readily apparent. Anyone who suffers injuries must go to the hospital to receive immediate medical attention. Delaying treatment could result in an insurance company claiming any injuries were caused outside of the accident. Common car accident injuries include:
- Broken bones: Broken ribs often feel like a bruise and can cause breathing difficulties. Broken bones can heal improperly if not set by a doctor.
- Whiplash: Whiplash is the result of the head snapping forward and back in a violent motion. This injury and can spread to the shoulders and back, cause concentration problems, and even make it impossible to sleep.
- Internal bleeding: A doctor must diagnose any injuries and run tests or use imaging to find internal bleeding. Internal bleeding or organ damage can kill someone if they go home believing that they walked away from the accident without a scratch.
- Head injuries: Head injuries must also be diagnosed by a doctor. Imaging is needed to check for concussions, brain contusions, and even swelling on the brain.
- Leg injuries: If a car crumbles, the knees and legs can be wounded.
While the importance of seeking medical attention is clear, drivers and passengers must be prepared for a long recovery. Medical bills can accumulate, and accident victims can miss work or even become disabled.
Who is Liable for My Accident?
Car accidents are messy and involve other vehicles. Evidence collected for each car accident case might point to various factors. When road rage or aggressive driving spills over into an accident, another driver might have caused someone to hit the victim’s vehicle. For example, an enraged driver who tries to force their target off the road could cause that person to crash into the victim. Motorcyclists might sidle between lanes on the dotted lines, startling other motorists.
Large trucks also carry quite a few liability concerns. The truck driver is required to check their brakes before starting a new day. The truck must stop at all weigh stations, and the vehicle must be driven within the speed limit and without distractions. Trucking companies might force drivers to drive longer routes for fear of losing their jobs, or the truck might not be serviced properly. If the truck has been leased, the leasing company is responsible for the service and maintenance of the vehicle. When the vehicle fails due to maintenance issues, the leasing company can be held liable.
Vehicle manufacturers can be held liable when there are defective issues. The situation is made even worse if the vehicle should have been recalled. Loading crews are supposed to load vehicles properly and ensure that they are balanced. When a trailer is not loaded properly, it could tip when the truck takes a hard turn or is hit by heavy winds. The company that loads the truck can be held liable for something that might have seemed harmless when the loading crew did not restrain the shipment and balance it properly.
Construction crews might encroach on the road, leave debris in the road that causes an accident, have vehicles enter the road without looking, or have flaggers give drivers improper directions. Municipal authorities can also be guilty if they have construction or service crews on the road. Third-party contractors who are working on behalf of a municipal authority could be held liable, as well as the local government because they trusted public spaces to a negligent company.
Will My Insurance Company Help After a Car Accident?
Insurance companies are massive corporations that are designed to make money above all else. The insurance company will do everything in its power to avoid paying for an accident. They might claim that the insured caused the accident and does not qualify for coverage. Insurance companies might use recordings taken from customers to twist liability.
Contributory negligence in Maryland states that a victim who played any part in the accident is not eligible for damages. This is a popular defense mechanism. Someone who caused a horrible accident could claim that the injured, disabled, or even deceased victim did something to cause the crash. Hiring a Maryland car accident lawyer helps the victim recover while the attorney investigates the case. This is also why accident victims are asked to not speak to the insurance company. An insurance company will do anything to avoid making payments, and complaints or angry phone calls can possibly invalidate a case.
Which Damages Can I Sue for After a Car Accident?
Car accident victims can file a claim for a range of damages. Accident victims will incur a variety of expenses that they did not cause, and they should work with their lawyer to learn about their options. Damages might include:
- All medical expenses related to the accident and future care.
- Rehabilitation costs if the accident victim was out of work and needed to relearn certain skills.
- Lost salary, overtime, and prospective earnings for the victim.
- Pain and suffering, including loss of companionship or quality of life.
- Punitive damages as defined by the state.
- Burial and final expenses in the case of a wrongful death claim arising from a car accident.
Why Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
A Maryland car accident lawyer knows how to manage, litigate, and control the narrative of a car accident case. The lawyer will fight the insurance company for coverage, file a claim for damages against all responsible parties, and ensure that clients understand how the process works. Lawyers are trained investigators who can determine the specific level of liability. A lawyer speaks to everyone who is involved in the case and negotiates a settlement that is in the best interest of the client. A large company, city, county, or state organization will have a lawyer on its side, as well as the defendant in a car accident case.
A car accident lawyer who takes on a case does not get paid until their client gets paid. This is very important to remember because clients are not paying out of pocket. Clients are given time to recover while their lawyer handles the legal aspects of the case. A lawyer also understands the ins and outs of the Maryland court system. Delays and issues are often avoided when an experienced lawyer knows how to respond.
Maryland Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Accident Victims Throughout Maryland
If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Maryland car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Our experienced legal team will review your case and secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve. We will not stop fighting for you until we have your complete satisfaction. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
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.