May 27, 2024
Annapolis, US 78 F

How to Deal with Car Crashes and Personal Injury Claims in Maryland

Crashes are always a possibility when you’re on the road. The state of Maryland has its fair share of road mishaps. Crash data shows that the average yearly total of crashes in Maryland is 109,413. And if you’ve been involved in one of these accidents, you need to know what to do during and after the incident.

In this article, we’ll help you understand how to deal with the aftermath of car crashes in Maryland. We’ll also give you tips on filing personal injury claims if necessary.

What to Do After a Crash

While every circumstance is different regarding car crashes, the steps you need to take after the accident are usually the same. Ensure everyone in the car with you is safe, follow the law, and gather evidence for your insurance claims. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Call the police. After ensuring you’re alright, you should call the police or 911. Let the dispatcher know you were in a car accident (and whether another driver caused it). Dispatchers will notify the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction where the accident happened – either the local police or the Maryland State Police.
  • Ask for an ambulance. If you think someone is seriously injured, tell the 911 dispatcher to send an ambulance. Anyone who’s hurt must get immediate medical care. 
  • Do not leave the scene. It is against the state law in Maryland to leave the scene of an accident if you’re involved in it. After calling the police or 911, you must stay at the scene and wait for authorities.
  • Get the other driver’s information. If you’re able, gather the personal information of the parties involved. Write down the other driver’s name, contact number, address, license number, and insurance details. 
  • Take photos. If you have a smartphone with you, make sure to take photos of the accident and the vehicles involved. You should also take pictures of nearby traffic signs and other relevant details.
  • Talk to witnesses. If you can, gather witness testimonies, but do not discuss details of the accident. Anything you say can be used against you, and you may be denied compensation when you file your personal injury claims.
  • Get the police officer’s name. Make sure to get the details of the police officer assigned to investigate the accident. Get the necessary contact details in case you need to ask for an accident report for your insurance claims.
  • See a doctor. You need to see a doctor even if you think you’re fine and have no apparent signs of injury. You might be at risk of injuries like whiplash and concussions.

After you’ve been checked by the doctor and given the clear, it’s time to call your insurance company and start the claims process. You can always talk to a lawyer if you need help with the legalese. 

Causes of Car Crashes in Maryland

The saying “prevention is better than cure” applies to driving. It is better to be on the safe side and drive cautiously than to regret it later. And the first step in avoiding car accidents is understanding what causes them. Here are some of the most common causes of accidents on the road:

  • Reckless Driving. A driver need not be told this, but recklessly driving over the speed limit and dodging in and out of traffic are dangerous maneuvers on the road. Therefore, you must drive properly and be mindful of other vehicles on the road.
  • Fatigued Driving. If you’re tired, drowsy, or fatigued, it is better not to drive. You might fall asleep at the wheel and cause serious injury to yourself and other motorists. Call someone to drive you where you need to be if you can.
  • Driving while intoxicated. Another dangerous thing to do is to drive while intoxicated. There have been many instances of fatal car crashes caused by intoxicated drivers. Even a tiny amount of alcohol can impair your judgment, so it’s better to avoid drinking altogether if you know that you need to drive. 
  • Distracted driving. When you’re driving, be sure to focus on the road. Avoid getting distracted while you are behind the steering wheel. Set an autoreply on your phone so you don’t have to pick it up while driving. 
  • Ignoring traffic signs. Aside from putting yourself in danger by ignoring traffic signs, you’re also breaking the law. As a driver, you should not be selfish and put others at risk because you don’t want to follow the rules. 

Understanding Maryland’s Car Crash Statute of Limitations

Every state has its statute of limitations – a law that sets a time limit on your right to sue. For car accidents and personal injury claims, the Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code states that a civil lawsuit for personal injury must be filed within three years from the accident date.

Therefore, you must file your claims within the period if you want to get the economic and non-economic damages owed. The three-year deadline applies to all lawsuits related to car accidents, whether you are the driver, a pedestrian, or a passenger. The same time limit also applies to a wrongful death case, but the clock starts ticking when the person dies. 

Even if you’re already in talks with the insurance company and you think it will be resolved through the claims process, it is still better to file the lawsuit in case you need to later on. If, for some reason, you’re already running up against the deadline for filing, you may want to consult a lawyer to help and advise you through the process. 

Understanding Contributory Negligence

If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, you may need to take your case to court. And if the jury finds that you have a share in the blame for what happened, it will fall under the “contributory negligence” rule. When that happens, you cannot receive compensation from the other driver, even if you’re only to blame for a small share of the accident. The insurance adjuster can also use this argument, and you can expect them to play hardball with you during the settlement negotiations.

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