Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers
Serving Our Community and Neighbors Since 1987
Getting into a car accident is a shocking experience. However, it is important to take steps to protect your health and your legal claim. Maryland imposes a three-year statute of limitations on filing a claim for most car collisions.
Additionally, your insurance policy may have strict deadlines for notifying the company about your accident. Therefore, it is in your best interest to speak with one of our Baltimore car accident lawyers as soon as possible.
Since 1987, LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton has helped people injured in auto, trucking, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents. Our lawyers have successfully won more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts for thousands of clients. We are focused on helping you recover the rightful compensation from your insurance company and the defendants.
What Advice Can Our Lawyers Give You About Negotiating?
Most insurance companies are more concerned about earning profits than they are about serving their policyholders. Your agent may try to persuade you to settle your claim quickly and for less than what it is worth. Do not sign any documents or make a statement until you have spoken with our lawyers. Once you sign an agreement, you waive the right to pursue further damages. Statements you make while upset or under the influence of painkillers prescribed to you after your accident may jeopardize your case.
Our firm settles most of our claims for maximum possible damages. We know you are anxious to get paid, especially if you have lost wages and accumulated bills because of your motor vehicle crash. For this reason, our lawyers will push your case along aggressively. In cases regarding serious injuries, it takes additional time to fully understand the extent of your injuries, associated disabilities, and long-term care needs. We take every step necessary to protect you from settling for less than you deserve.
Why Should You Take Your Car Accident Case to Court?
We are a team of seasoned litigators with a polished courtroom demeanor and extensive skills needed to convince a jury and judge that you deserve compensation for your car accident injuries. Our thoughtful, thorough participation in the discovery process gives us an advantage during negotiations.
How Do You Establish Fault and Contributory Negligence?
Determining liability in a car wreck may be complicated. An auto accident defendant in Maryland may present a contributory negligence defense, which bars the plaintiff from collecting damages if the defendant can prove that the plaintiff is partly to blame. This can unfairly deny a plaintiff rightful recovery for being only one percent at fault. Our lawyers are proactive about protecting your rights to recover damages. If you are the one being sued, we investigate whether you have a valid reason to assert the contributory defense.
Even if you think you are responsible for an accident, our attorneys can review your claim and protect your rights. You may not be legally liable for the car wreck, and we can successfully challenge the claims made against you. Also, you may be entitled to payment under your own automobile insurance policy, regardless of fault.
How is the Contributory Negligence Doctrine Used in Maryland Courts?
Contributory negligence is an affirmative defense permitted by Maryland laws. Under this doctrine, plaintiffs who contribute to their own injuries are barred from recovery, even if the defendants’ negligent actions were the primary cause of the accident. These laws deny recovery to injured victims who are found to be even one percent at fault.
In July 2013, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the application of the contributory negligence defense in Maryland personal injury cases. Therefore, injury victims continue to face an all-or-nothing scenario in civil courts. Only a future act of Congress can reverse the adverse consequences and injustices caused by the contributory negligence doctrine.
How Can Our Lawyers Challenge a Contributory Negligence Defense?
You need zealous representation when you are injured due to the actions of a careless or reckless motorist. We represent individuals who have suffered harm due to:
What are Some Important Car Accident Statistics?
Even with advances in safety technology, car accidents continue to be an unfortunate reality across the country. Human error, inclement weather, and poor road conditions are just a few factors that contribute to the number of car accidents that occur.
In 2017, Maryland had the most car accident fatalities since 2009. This is likely due to the lower gas prices, which caused less people to carpool or use public transportation, and more people to drive. The following number of people were killed in car accidents in Maryland in three years:
- In 2015, there were 521 fatalities
- In 2016, there were 522 fatalities
- In 2017, there were 557 fatalities
Since 2014, the number of traffic fatalities in Maryland has increased every year up to 2017. The following statistics reflect car accidents that occur nationwide:
- In the United States, 40,200 people died in car accidents in 2016, which is the most car accident-related deaths since 2007. This is likely due to the number of drivers who were distracted by talking or texting while driving.
- Car accidents cost approximately $250 billion in property damage, lost wages, medical bills, and other costs related to the accident.
- Speeding has a major impact on the seriousness of the accident and resulting injuries.
What are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in Baltimore, Maryland?
The World Health Organization reports that approximately 1.25 million people are killed in car accidents, and up to 50 million suffer injuries each year. The victims and their families often suffer devastating financial losses resulting from these accidents, including property damage, loss wages, and costly medical bills associated with their injuries. Many of these accidents are preventable if motorists make safety a priority. By understanding the most common causes of car accidents, drivers can take the appropriate steps to avoid them.
Any behavior that takes a motorist’s attention away from the road is dangerous, but smart phones are one of the main culprits when it comes to distracted driving. From talking on the phone to texting and checking social media while driving, too many drivers do not think twice about making a phone call or checking a text while driving, despite the fact that talking on the phone while driving has been shown to quadruple the risk of being involved in a car accident. Using a hands-free device is not as safe as people might think. Other common distractions include the following:
- Applying makeup
- Reaching for something on the floor or in the backseat
- Interacting with other passengers
- Changing the radio station
- Dealing with children who are in the backseat
Another common and completely avoidable cause of car accidents is drowsy driving. At some point, most motorists will drive when they are tired. However, when they are so fatigued that it affects their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, this can be extremely dangerous for all motorists sharing the road. Sleep deprivation can impair concentration, cause reduced vigilance, and impact a driver’s reaction time. Approximately 25 percent of fatal traffic accidents are caused by drowsy driving.
Even a relatively small amount of alcohol can impair a person’s ability to concentrate, make sound judgments, and react quickly to unexpected situations. In 2016, close to 10,500 people lost their lives in drunk driving accidents in the United States. Far too many motorists continue to get behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving occurs when a driver commits one or more moving traffic offenses with the intent of endangering another motorist or their property. When drivers become stressed, frustrated, or angry, they often take it out on other motorists by tailgating, lane blocking, and failing to yield the right-of-way. The most common form of aggressive driving is speeding, which can increase the severity of an accident due to the force of impact.
What are the Most Common Car Accident Injuries?
Automobile crash victims can sustain severe permanent injuries, even from a minor fender bender. However, symptoms of serious injuries are not always immediately obvious. For this reason, our car accident lawyers urge victims of accidents to seek medical evaluation after a car wreck as soon as they can. We can increase your chances of recovery and improve your quality of life. We can also review your health care provider’s assessment about the cause of your injuries; the nature and extent of your injuries can be used to determine fault and can be used to calculate rightful damages.
Medline Plus attributes half of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) to auto accidents. Symptoms of mild TBIs include cognitive problems, memory loss, communication impairments, and mood changes. Severe TBIs can lead to seizures, coma, vegetative states, minimally conscious states, locked-in syndrome, or even death. Since symptoms may not manifest for several days or weeks following your crash, you may not even realize you have sustained such a serious injury right after the crash.
Spinal Cord Damage
The nature and severity of a disability that can result from a spinal injury depends on which vertebrae are damaged and to what degree. The functions and sensation of the area below the injured section of your spine are affected by interruptions in the transmission of signals to and from the brain. Complete nerve damage results in paralysis and organ dysfunction. Incomplete damage can cause partial paralysis, weakness, numbness, pain, sensory changes, and organ problems.
Disks are spongy capsules filled with a jellylike substance that cushions your vertebrae. A forceful blow, like the force of a motor vehicle collision, can rupture a disk and cause the jellylike material to leak. Pressure on the surrounding nerves can cause debilitating pain, and weakness and numbness that can affect an entire limb or region of your body. This is the case for sciatic pain triggered by lumbar disk herniation.
Whiplash describes soft-tissue injuries in the neck caused by the sudden jerking of your head. When a driver rear-ends your car, the seat belt holds your body in place, but does not restrict the movement of your head. As your head is thrown forward and then snapped back, your neck’s muscles and ligaments are strained beyond their normal range of motion. Symptoms include pain and stiffness that may resolve in a few days, or last for years in serious cases.
What Do I Do After an Accident?
Despite efforts to drive responsibly and make safety a top priority, motorists can still be involved in a car accident when they least expect it. Whether it is a minor fender bender, or a serious accident involving injuries, it is important to know the steps to take to ensure the claims process is successful. Being familiar with these steps ahead of time can make the situation less stressful in the event of an accident.
Check for Serious Injuries
Check yourself first to determine whether you have any serious injuries. If you are unable to move, or you suffered a head or neck injury, wait for emergency personnel to arrive. If you are able, check to see if the other passengers in your vehicle or the other motorists involved are hurt. If staying where you are puts you in danger of being hit by an oncoming vehicle, try to move to safety. If your vehicle is safe to drive, move it to the side of the road, particularly if leaving it in the road causes a hazard. If it is unsafe to move, leave it where it is and get to a safe spot.
Calling 911 is crucial, regardless of how serious the accident may be. Dispatch will send an officer to the accident scene, where he or she will document the scene and fill out an accident report. If there are injuries, an ambulance will also be sent to the scene to transport injured victims to the closest emergency room. You can obtain a copy of the accident report to send to your insurance company when you begin the claims process. Make sure that you exchange the following information with the other motorists involved in the accident:
- Contact information
- Insurance information
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers
- Information about the vehicles involved
- Location of the accident
Document the Scene of the Accident
The Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends that you obtain as much evidence as possible about the scene of the accident, including the following:
- Ask for the names and badge numbers of the responding officers
- Obtain a copy of the police report
- Take pictures of the accident scene, including skid marks, the vehicles involved, traffic lights, and road damage
- Ask for the names and contact information of any witnesses who may have seen the accident happen.
What Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident?
Whether it is a minor fender bender or a multi-vehicle collision involving serious injuries or fatalities, car accidents can be extremely traumatic. When there is extensive damage to the vehicles involved and victims suffered severe injuries, emotions tend to run high. As a result, it can be difficult to remain calm and level-headed about what to do next. The following is a list of important steps to take if you have been involved in a car accident:
Do Not Leave the Scene of the Accident
Remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. If you leave before the police show up and someone has been seriously injured, you could face criminal charges for being a hit-and-run driver. Ensure that you are pulled over in a safe place.
Examine Yourself for Any Injuries
If anyone involved has been injured, call for medical attention immediately. If someone is unconscious or appears to have a neck or back injury, do not attempt to move them until the ambulance arrives, unless their life is in danger.
Go to a Safe Spot
If your car is drivable but is causing a hazard where it is, it is vital to pull over to the side of the road. If it is not causing a hazard, leave your car where it is and get yourself to safety, either by the side of the road or on a sidewalk.
Call the Police
If the wreck resulted in property damage, injuries, or fatalities, call the police so that they can file a police report. Ask for the name and badge number of the officers on the scene so that you can obtain a copy of the report.
For insurance purposes, be sure to obtain the names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information from all drivers involved in the accident. Try to remain calm and cordial and do not apologize for anything as it can be interpreted as admitting guilt, which can make you liable for damages.
Obtain Witness Testimonies
Ask every witness for details about what they saw and ask for their names, phone numbers, and addresses. If any of the witnesses live in the vicinity, ask if they have seen other accidents take place in the same location.
Take Pictures of the Scene
If you are physically able to do so, take a picture of the damage to your vehicle. This will help the insurance adjuster determine how much money you should be compensated for the damage of your vehicle. It will also provide concrete proof of the actual damage to your car if it is questioned in court.
Keep Copies of All Medical Records
Keep track of your medical treatments, including doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and any other medical professional that treated you for injuries you sustained from the car wreck. It is best to keep organized copies of your medical records, including a detailed account of how your injuries have impacted your life as this can help you obtain compensation for pain and suffering.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Let your insurance company know as soon as possible if you have been in an accident. Provide an honest account of what happened, and make sure that you do not omit any pertinent information. To increase your chances of a successful claim, contact an experienced attorney who is well-versed in car accident litigation and has experience assessing liability.
How Can You Collect Compensation After a Car Accident?
Car accident insurance generally covers a certain amount of property damage, as well as costs of any injuries. To ensure that you receive the maximum compensation, it is highly recommended that you obtain additional insurance, including the following:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): While not mandatory in Maryland, it ensures that you will receive at least $2,500 in coverage.
- Collision Coverage: This is also optional, but it covers damage to your vehicle if you are in an accident.
- Rental Car Coverage: This will pay for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired, or if you need to purchase a new vehicle.
My Vehicle was Damaged in a Car Accident, What Do I Do?
If you were injured in an accident and have also sustained property damage or loss, contact us immediately. We will arrange to have your vehicle examined by either your own insurance company or by the at-fault driver’s insurance company as soon as possible. When necessary, we will work with you to arrange to have an independent body shop prepare an estimate of the repair cost.
If your damaged vehicle was towed to a storage lot after the accident, we will assist you in having your vehicle moved as soon as possible to a repair facility. While the insurance company may give you a few suggestions on where to take your car to be repaired, ultimately you retain the right to take it to the facility of your choice. If the vehicle is not moved, you may incur high storage fees that could be your responsibility to pay since you are under a legal duty to mitigate your damage.
Who Pays for Repairs After an Auto Accident?
The insurance company, regardless of whether it was your fault, will pay you the lesser amount between the vehicle’s repair cost and its fair market value. The law does not require the insurance company to replace your vehicle or consider your loan balance. In most cases, they will just issue a check made payable to you and the repair facility, your bank, or your finance company. If the repair cost of your vehicle exceeds 75 percent of its Fair Market Value, the insurance company has the right to declare your car a total loss.
Can I Get a Rental Car While My Car is Being Repaired?
If necessary, you may be able to secure a rental car through your insurance company, if you have the appropriate coverage, or through that of the at-fault party. Some carriers agree to pay the rental company directly while others may require you to pay for the rental up front and will reimburse you later. Our accident attorneys and staff will assist you with this process.
How Can I Best Protect My Case?
Call us immediately to ensure that you:
- Do not sign anything: Consult with us first before signing anything.
- Do not discuss your case with anyone other than us: If anyone asks you questions or requests written information about your accident, tell them to contact us immediately.
- Prepare a brief written statement of the incident as soon as possible: Provide specific and detailed information about the date, time, and location of the incident. Include a diagram that can help illustrate how the accident or injury occurred. Identify witnesses and provide us with their addresses and telephone numbers so that we can contact them immediately.
- Review the police report of your accident with us: The police report is often the starting point for an insurance company to determine liability. It is important that you review the police report with us and note any errors or discrepancies. If appropriate, we will dispatch our office investigator to obtain written statements from any witness listed on that report.
- Take color photographs of your injuries: It is essential that we have photos of any bruising, swelling, discoloration, breaks, or bleeding as soon as possible. You should also take photographs of any damage to your car or other property as soon as possible. Provide color photos or film negatives to our auto accident attorneys immediately. If you prefer, let us know and we will make arrange to take the photographs for you.
- Keep all appointments: Write down the names, dates, and times of all your appointments with the doctor, auto body repair shop, or other parties related to the incident and injuries. If you have any activities that you must cancel because of your injuries, please make a note of them.
- Keep us informed: Inform us of your medical or chiropractic treatment.
- Provide the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all doctors, chiropractors, hospitals, and clinics you visit for evaluation and treatment: When you are finished with your treatment, call us at once.
- Keep all bills and receipts: If you incur any additional costs or out-of-pocket expenses related to your accident, it is essential that you forward all receipts and bills to us for review and submission to the adverse insurance company.
- Document lost wages: If you are unable to work due to accident-related injuries, make sure that you ask your doctor to give you a disability certificate. Please provide us with a copy of this certificate upon receipt. When you return to work, we will contact your employer and obtain a typed statement on a company letterhead. This letter contains documentation of your job title, position, dates of absence, number of days you normally worked per week, number of hours you normally worked per day, and your rate of pay, including commission. Finally, the letter should be signed by a company official. Lost wages will only be considered if your doctor confirms that you are unable to work, and your job verifies your absence.
- Schedule appointments: If we need to meet with you, we will contact you to schedule an appointment. If you wish to meet with us, please call us and make an appointment for a specific date and time. We are always ready to answer questions regarding your case and encourage clients to stay in regular contact with their attorney.
- Contact us if you change your address or phone number: It is important that you contact us at once if you change your address or telephone number or if you expect to be out of town for an extended amount of time.
Will You Refer Me to a Doctor to Treat My Injuries?
Yes, the choice of physician is always the client’s decision; however, we can, and routinely do, refer clients to physicians. Over the years, we have developed strong relationships with many of the premier medical groups throughout Maryland specializing in the treatment of accident victims. These groups readily accept our clients as patients and often work with us on billing issues. Not only do these groups provide our clients with the best possible medical care, but they also work with us to present medical issues in a way that reinforces our ability to maximize the value of the claim.
How are My Medical Bills Handled?
If you have PIP coverage or medical payment (MEDPAY) under your insurance policy, your insurance company must be notified of the accident. If you do not own a vehicle but live with someone who owns an insured vehicle, you may still be entitled to receive PIP or MEDPAY benefits. Speak with us about your eligibility.
If you would like for us to handle your PIP or MEDPAY claim, we will contact your insurance company to obtain the appropriate claim forms. If you receive these or other related materials, forward them to us immediately. We will complete and execute the documents on your behalf, as well as provide all supporting documentation necessary to make the claim.
How Does PIP Coverage Affect My Case?
PIP is optional coverage to cover the reasonable costs of accident-related medical bills or 85 percent of your lost wages up to the limits of your PIP coverage. At one time, PIP was a required coverage; however, recent changes in Maryland law allow a policy holder to reject PIP coverage by executing a written waiver. We emphatically recommend against waiving this coverage as the premium charged is nominal compared to the benefits provided. Typically, the PIP coverage limit is $2,500, but it can be for a higher amount at the option of the policy holder. It is important to note that if you do have PIP coverage, a written application for the same must be made within one year of the date of the occurrence or you may be denied all PIP benefits.
Do I Still Have a Claim If My Medical Bills Were Paid by Insurance?
In most cases, yes. You are entitled to be compensated for your medical bills regardless of whether they have been paid. However, your health insurance company may have a legal right to assert a lien for recovery of medical expenses paid on your behalf through a process called subrogation. You are also entitled to compensation for other losses, including lost earning capacity, scarring, disability, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
What is Maryland’s Collateral Source Rule and How Does It Affect My Case?
Maryland is one of the few states to adopt a collateral source rule. Simply, the rule permits the insured person to recover for his losses from multiple sources, if available, without offset. In other words, if your health insurance carrier has already paid your accident-related medical bills, or even if those bills have been paid under your PIP coverage, you may still recover for the previously paid bills from the at-fault driver. You can essentially collect twice, or in some cases, three times, for the same loss.
What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
You may be surprised to know that even though Maryland is a mandatory liability coverage state, many drivers operating vehicles in Maryland at any given time do not have liability insurance coverage. In fact, it has been reported that one in six drivers in Baltimore City lack that coverage. So, what is your recourse if you are struck by an uninsured driver?
Automobile policies issued in Maryland are required to provide uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) coverage. UM coverage is applicable when the at-fault driver does not have liability insurance coverage or when the existing policy is disclaimed for any number of reasons, including the non-permissive use of the at-fault vehicle. UIM coverage is applicable when the at-fault driver’s policy is inadequate to cover the full extent of your losses, but only in the instance where your UM coverage exceeds that of the at-fault driver’s policy limits.
UM and UIM coverage are not restricted to the policy holder. In fact, they are available to family members residing in the policy holder’s household. They may be available to passengers in the policy holder’s vehicle as well. Making an UM or UIM claim can be complex. Our accident attorneys are thoroughly versed in this area of the law.
What If I Am Struck by a Hit-and-Run Driver?
A hit-and-run accident occurs when the at-fault driver flees the scene. The phrase “hit and run” is not fully accurate nor is it all-encompassing. In fact, under Maryland law, contact between the vehicles is not required if the at-fault driver causes you to lose control and collide with something or someone else. Even if the driver is uninsured, you may still recover for your injuries and other losses under the uninsured motorist coverage provided by your own policy.
How Long Will the Claims Process Take?
It is our objective to settle claims as quickly as possible, and many cases are settled within five to eight weeks after discharge from medical treatment. However, each case is unique and has its own timeline. Some cases may proceed to trial, a process that can take a year or more. Rest assured, we will do everything possible to expedite the resolution of your claim for its maximum value. That is our commitment to you, and you should never settle for less.
When Will My Case Be Submitted for Settlement?
There is a lot to take care of after an accident happen. Our experienced attorneys will submit your case for settlement as soon as you have completed any prescribed medical or chiropractic treatment, and we have received all supporting paperwork, including medical records, disability ratings, receipts, and lost wage information.
What is the Value of My Claim?
There is no instant or easy answer to this question. Putting a value on your claim is a complex calculation that depends on a number of factors, including the nature and extent of your injury, any permanent disability, the likelihood and cost of future medical care, the type of medical treatment you received and its cost, your economic loss, and how strong your case is from the standpoint of liability. Once all factors are thoroughly analyzed, we will then be able to offer you an opinion regarding the value of your claim for settlement. The final decision to accept an offer of settlement or to take your case to trial is always yours.
If a settlement offer is rejected for any reason, we will promptly file suit and take the case to court. This is one reason why we can obtain top dollar settlements for our clients. Insurance companies know that we have no hesitation to take a case to court. In fact, our firm recently obtained the highest injury verdict in Maryland for an auto accident case, over $4 million.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Claims?
Yes, in Maryland, you have a maximum of three years from the date of the occurrence to file suit. In fact, every state has a statute of limitations or a limit on the time in which certain claims arising from your accident must be brought. Statutes often change, so be sure to contact us for the most updated information. As a more practical matter, as time passes, memory fades and evidence can become lost over time, making it more difficult to effectively prosecute a claim. We obtain the absolute best results for those clients who contact us immediately.
Access answers to frequently asked questions regarding motor vehicle accidents in Maryland here.
Locations We Serve
At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, we represent those injured in all types of car accidents throughout the greater Baltimore area and surrounding counties, including but not limited to:
Our Car Accident Attorneys in Baltimore Obtain Results for Your Car Accident Claim
If you are injured in a car wreck in Maryland, call one of our professional Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton today. We are available 24 hours a day to respond to injured accident victims. Our firm handles auto accident cases on a contingency basis, so you owe us nothing until we recover damages on your claim. Your complete satisfaction is our law firm’s primary concern. For a free consultation, call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.