What Should Motorists Know About Car Accidents in Prince George’s County?
Inclement weather, mechanical problems, and human error are just a few factors that can increase the risk of car accidents. Even with the latest advances in safety technology, car accidents are still an unfortunate reality that can cause significant property damage and potentially life-threatening injuries.
Knowing the right steps to take immediately following an accident can make the situation less stressful and ensure that the victims or their families receive the compensation they deserve. These cases are often tense and fraught with issues, from major injuries to deaths in the family and who will ultimately owe the family compensation.
Those involved in a car accident should speak to an experienced car accident lawyer who can help guide the family through the claims process and make sure their rights are protected. When a lawyer is working on the case, the at-fault driver, insurance company, or business responsible will take the victims seriously.
How Does a Lawyer Determine Liability in a Car Accident?
In the state of Maryland, a car accident victim may be unable to collect damages if the person who allegedly caused the accident presents a contributory negligence defense, which suggests that the plaintiff is partially to blame for the accident. If the defendant is successful in using this line of defense, the law states the plaintiff can be denied recovery if they are merely one percent at fault.
Contributory negligence is a rare precept that is used only in a few states, but it can be used to show that the victim somehow caused the accident. Victims know they did nothing wrong, and they need a lawyer who will help them fight this sort of defense. With a thorough knowledge of state laws, a local car accident lawyer will take proactive steps to protect the victim’s rights and determine the best legal course of action.
In some cases, the plaintiff might have indirectly caused the accident, but they may still be able to collect damages. If this is the case, a lawyer will thoroughly investigate the details of the accident and challenge any claims made against the plaintiff. Victims are eligible for compensation after any of the following accidents or situations:
Aggressive driving: Aggressive driving is more common than most people think. It is reported that 66 percent of car accidents in the United States are caused by aggressive driving, and 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. Even worse is that two percent of drivers have admitted to trying to run someone else off the road.
The best course of action is to focus on the road, keep both hands on the wheel, or pull over. If the aggressive driver will not go away, the local police department should be called for assistance. Those encountering an aggressive driver should not get out of the car and not stop if that allows the aggressor to approach the vehicle. Nothing can be gained by confronting someone who might have violent intentions.
Speeding: It was reported that in 2018, speeding killed over 9000 people. Everyone seems to be busy these days, but speed limits are put in place for a reason. For the sake of everyone on the road, drivers need to slow down and obey speed limits.
Distracted driving: Distracted driving involves everything from a cell phone to a conversation with a passenger. Distracted drivers have taken their eyes off the road, but they do not know how far they are traveling when they are not focusing on the road. Texting while driving is an especially dangerous form of distraction.
Research has also shown that drivers crash eight times more often when they are reaching for an object in the car, three times more likely to crash while eating, and are often distracted by pets in the car. Study participants have reported that although 80 percent of pet owners drove with their pets, only 17 percent of them used a crate or restraint for their pet.
If distractions are too much to handle, it is best for the driver to pull over until they have dealt with the distraction.
Drunk and drugged driving: More than 10,000 people die in alcohol-impaired driving accidents each year in the United States. Drugs other than alcohol, legal and illegal, are involved in a significant percentage of motor vehicle crashes. The penalties for drunk and impaired driving are severe. No driver should get behind the wheel impaired. It is best to call a taxi or use a ride-sharing service. A designated driver is a wise option.
Drowsy driving: Drowsy drivers are trying to get home, to work, or to another destination without stopping. Many motorists would rather continue to drive than be late. Drowsy drivers should ask for a ride, use a ride-sharing company, or call a taxi instead.
In other cases, drivers do not realize that medications or certain situations cause drowsiness. Anyone who feels affected by medication should not be driving, especially if they might fall asleep. Someone who is leaving the house early in the morning often feels tired because it is still dark. If possible, drivers should wait to leave until the sun is rising. If that is not possible, carpooling will put other people in the car who can drive if they are not feeling tired. The same is true when people leave work late at night or drive home as it gets dark outside.
Emergency vehicle accidents: Emergency vehicle accidents involve nearly 6500 ambulance accidents every year, 31,600 fire truck accidents, and numerous police car accidents. Police car pursuits cause fatalities every day, and 30 percent of those killed in these accidents every year were not even involved in the pursuit.
Police, firefighters, and EMTs are under great pressure to arrive at their destinations quickly, and the flashing lights, dangerous maneuvers, life-or-death situations, and loud noises make driving difficult.
Anyone who is near an emergency vehicle on call should slowly pull to the side so that the emergency vehicle can easily pass. Motorists should not stop the moment that a siren is heard, as this might startle other drivers or cause a crash. If there is nowhere to go when an emergency vehicle is approaching, drivers should wait for traffic to slowly move out of the way and follow everyone’s lead.
Hit-and-run accidents: Hit-and-run accidents often occur when two drivers have pulled over after a crash and the responsible driver leaves the scene. Victims are advised to note as much about this driver as possible before they can leave the scene. If the other driver does not stop, motorists should try to remember their license number, take pictures of their vehicles with a cell phone, or find eyewitnesses who can identify the other vehicle.
Rear-end collisions: Rear-end collisions are common when drivers are sitting in traffic or they have not left enough stopping distance between them and another vehicle. Distracted drivers often do not stop quickly enough, or they miss traffic lights and stop signs. Some drivers who are sitting in traffic overestimate the speed traffic is flowing. For example, drivers often speed up to fill gaps as congested traffic progresses. Unfortunately, drivers must stop and start multiple times during this process. If these drivers have gotten up to full speed, they may not have enough time to stop.
Rollovers: A rollover can easily occur in a large vehicle when it turns too sharply or drives over a large bump in the road. Speeding also contributes to these crashes, as some drivers do not slow down adequately for a turn, swerve when they cannot stop fast enough, or run off the road.
Underinsured drivers: Underinsured drivers are covered by the same portion of the victim’s auto insurance policy that handles uninsured drivers. When the insurance company does not want to pay, a car accident lawyer will fight the insurance carrier to recover compensation.
How can Drivers Avoid Accidents in a College Town?
The University of Maryland employs approximately 17,000 people, and those people flow in and out of the campus for much of the year. The school educates around 40,000 students every year, and they make the small town of College Park one of the most populous cities in the state when school is in session. Because the school is in session for nine months every year, traffic may subside in the summer. Football and basketball games produce massive traffic jams, and drivers should consider avoiding the campus if they can.
College towns also bring young drivers who have little to no experience on the road. Although it can be difficult to avoid inexperienced drivers in the area, motorists should be aware of the vehicles that are around them. Motorists should steer clear of erratic drivers, aggressive drivers, or anyone exhibiting signs of road rage. It is important to leave a greater stopping distance and check carefully before turning or changing lanes.
Do Government Facilities Increase Traffic in Prince George’s County?
Government facilities dot the landscape of Prince George’s County, including the following sites:
- Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility Washington: 13,500 employees
- Internal Revenue Service: 5,500 employees
- S. Census Bureau: 4,400 employees
- NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: 3,300 employees
- Henry A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center: 1,850 employees
- National Maritime Intelligence-Integration Office: 1,700 employees
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: 1,350 employees
Owing to the large number of government facilities, an estimated 31,600 people could pass through the county in a given day. These numbers do not include residents, local businesses, county employees, and anyone else who is driving through.
Drivers in Prince George’s County should try to avoid these facilities if they can. Those who leave for work a bit earlier or come home from work a bit later might miss heavy traffic around these facilities. The use of map apps or GPS navigation allows drivers to plan a route that will keep them away from traffic and possibly prevent accidents.
How can I Avoid an Accident When Driving on the Beltway?
Prince George’s County houses a 28-mile length of the Capital Beltway. Interstates and other highways run through the county, and traffic flows in and out of Washington every day. Prince George’s County abuts Washington, DC.
Because of the traffic conditions on these highways, drivers often get stuck on roads throughout the county as they attempt to get on a highway heading toward Washington or Virginia. Drivers who are sitting in traffic should be slow to proceed because rear-end accidents occur often on congested roads.
If drivers are driving responsibly, they will obey all speed limits. The speed limits often change on busy roads as the roads enter and exit cities. Surface streets often have lower speed limits, and drivers should be watchful because they might encounter children on bicycles, pedestrians, and/or slow-moving traffic.
What are Common Car Accident Injuries?
Cuts, scrapes, bruises, and burns are common after car accidents because of flying glass, airbag explosions, and the immense force of the crash. Although these injuries should be treated by a medical professional, there are more serious injuries that can cause disabilities, lifelong pain, changes in vocation, and mental anguish. The most serious car accident injuries include the following:
Head trauma: Head injuries can be closed or open. Someone with a concussion might not have any visible signs of an injury. An open head wound gets immediate attention and brain scans when necessary. Someone who has a headache or has hit their head should go to the doctor or ask the ambulance to take them to the hospital.
A closed head injury can be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. These injuries might include a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can cause the following problems:
- Inability to concentrate
- Decreased attention span
- Lack of awareness of one’s surroundings
- Slurred speech or inability to communicate
- Problems creating plans or maintaining a routine
- Loss of motor skills
- Short-term memory loss
- Vision and hearing loss
- Severe headaches
- Aches and pains
- Mood swings
- Changes in personality
The symptoms on this list can manifest in minor or major ways, depending on the person, the severity of their injuries, and the treatment they have received. In the worst cases, someone with a TBI might not be able to keep a job or work at all.
Spinal cord damage: Spinal cord damage may lead to numbness, tingling, reduced motor control, and/or partial or total paralysis. Accident victims cannot assume that the tingling or pain from the accident will go away. A doctor must diagnose a spinal cord damage using imaging technology and prescribe a course of treatment.
Herniated disks: Herniated disks are inflamed and can put pressure on the spinal cord or cause intense pain. Sometimes, herniated disks will manifest themselves with tingling or numbness, and a doctor must determine if the disk has damaged the spinal cord.
Whiplash: Whiplash is a common injury regardless of the speed of the crash. Whiplash victims may not know that they have whiplash because they feel pain and tenderness in their neck or shoulders. Left unchecked, this condition can cause the victim to miss work, lose sleep, and have difficulty leading a normal life.
Broken bones: Broken bones are common in the legs and arms. When someone has broken bones, they might see a bruise without realizing a bone is broken. Victims should request medical care and speak to a car accident lawyer about how the extensive medical bills from the accident will be paid.
How Dangerous are Defective Vehicles?
Defective vehicles cause accidents every day, and a range of issues can occur. These situations include the following:
- Unpublished recalls
- Faulty manufacturing
- Faulty parts
- Improper service or maintenance
The manufacturer is liable for its own negligence when the vehicle was not built properly, or the manufacturer did not publish recalls for which motorists should have been informed. The vehicle must be inspected by the lawyer or an expert to show that the manufacturer was negligent.
If the manufacturer knowingly used faulty parts, it is still liable for the accident. The manufacturer of the parts, however, can be sued if it did not provide the vehicle manufacturer or service technician with the appropriate parts. Lawyers can trace all the materials used for these parts to the origin of the problem.
Mechanics or dealerships that service these vehicles can be held liable for accidents caused by improper maintenance. When the mechanic or dealership does not return the car to safe condition after a service, they can be sued for negligence.
In some cases, several entities must be sued because they all factored into the accident. Victims should reach out to a car accident lawyer to learn more about third-party lawsuits. These lawsuits add to the compensation the client might receive, but they must be carefully researched before they are filed.
What Types of Compensation are Available?
Maryland uses different rules from most states when allowing injured drivers or passengers to sue for damages. Anyone who is a victim of someone else’s negligence can sue for damages. It is important to remember that the victim must prove that they did not cause the accident. The insurance company might also try to prove that its own policyholder caused the accident. The insurance company for the at-fault driver might do the same thing, and that is why it is important to retain a lawyer who will deal with all these entities. An accident victim can recover the following types of compensation:
Medical treatment: Injuries are compensable if they are documented. Accident victims cannot sue if they do not have proof of their accident and injuries. People often avoid medical treatment because they are concerned they cannot afford it. Victims should go to the hospital or visit a doctor to receive treatment and obtain a record of all injuries that occurred.
Lost wages: Lost earning potential can be requested due to the victim being out of work for their injuries.
Punitive damages: These damages are offered only in a trial as a way to punish the defendant for any malicious intent.
Wrongful death: A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the person who handles or represents the deceased’s estate. The representative might be a lawyer or family member who was asked to serve as the executor.
How can a Lawyer Help Victims?
Although most insurance companies want to protect their financial interests by persuading victims to settle their claims quickly and for less than they deserve, a car accident lawyer will aggressively fight to secure the maximum financial compensation the victims deserve, both from the insurance company and the defendants. Oftentimes, insurance companies will urge victims to make statements or sign documents that can negatively affect a claim. Therefore, it is imperative that accident victims speak to an experienced car accident lawyer before making any official statements, either verbal or written. Once an agreement has been signed, the victims may not be able to pursue additional damages.
A lawyer will take every step to expedite the claim through the system as quickly as possible. However, when there are serious injuries that require extensive medical care or result in permanent disabilities that require long-term care, reaching the maximum settlement can take time. An experienced lawyer will negotiate with the auto insurance company on the client’s behalf, settle with the defendants, or go to court to seek compensation from the defendant or any other third parties that were responsible.
Prince George’s County Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of All Car Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Prince George’s County car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We handle cases involving serious injuries and even wrongful death. We have recovered millions in settlements and verdicts for thousands of clients. Our dedicated legal team will hold the negligent party responsible for your injuries and ensure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve. 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.