Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Maryland
How to Know if You Have a Personal Injury Claim in Maryland
Most people are often confused following a serious accident. After recovering from their shock and disbelief and the reality of the situation at-hand sets in, however, they begin wondering whether or not they are entitled to receive any financial compensation for their injuries.
As a result, they want to know if filing a personal injury claim against the responsible party is an option or not. But the truth is, not all accidents form a valid personal injury case. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney in Maryland is crucial to determining whether your circumstances qualify for a lawsuit or not.
What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In simple terms, a personal injury lawsuit is a type of civil lawsuit that is brought forward by an injured person (plaintiff) against the person or entity responsible for their injuries (defendant) in an effort to recover money spent on medical bills, property damage and emotional discomfort.
There are several categories of personal injury cases, and while they all differ from one another, the end goal is to recover compensation for medical bills, property damage and lost wages. Personal injury cases include slip and fall accidents, car or truck accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, wrongful death accidents, and dog bite accidents.
In order to file a personal injury lawsuit, the accident leading to your injuries and subsequent property damage and lost wages must fulfil certain criteria. You and the attorney representing you must also have enough evidence to back up your claim; otherwise, you risk not getting compensated.
Basic Criteria for a Personal Injury Claim or Lawsuit in Maryland
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you may or may not be able to file a personal injury lawsuit or claim against the responsible party, regardless of how badly you were hurt in the accident. Keep in mind that several factors affect the outcome of a personal injury lawsuit, and this page only serves as a general guide as to whether or not you have a valid claim to file a personal injury lawsuit and is not meant to constitute as legal advice.
You might need to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your options following a serious car accident. The Law Offices of Hearne & Bailey offer free initial consultations to assist you with your personal injury claim.
Listed below are the basic criteria that must be met before you can file a personal injury lawsuit in the state of Maryland:
- An accident occurred as a result of someone else’s negligence.
- This is the first criteria that must be met. The accident could be as a result of a car collision or a slip and fall. Regardless of the type of accident, one basic criterion is that it must have been caused by someone else who will be held liable. It must—without a doubt—be proven that the accident happened solely as a result of the negligence displayed by the responsible party; otherwise, the defense counsel could try to invoke the contributory negligence laws practiced in Maryland that effectively recovery of compensation if the plaintiff is found to be at all partially responsible for the accident.
- The accident resulted in severe injuries, property damage and lost wages.
- The next criterion that must be met involves having a personal injury as a result of the accident that was caused by the other person’s negligence. This is necessary because, as the name implies, a personal injury lawsuit or claim can only be filed if an injury was actually sustained as a result of someone else’s negligence. After proving negligence, you must be able to prove that your injuries were sustained as a direct result of the accident. The more severe your injuries and property damage, the more compensation you may be eligible for. To prove the injury was caused by the accident, you will need to provide your medical records, bills, other damages and lost wages as evidence.
- The physical and emotional injuries sustained can be remedied financially.
- Not only will you have to prove that the accident was caused due to the negligence of the defending party, but you also need to prove that it has resulted in physical, mental and/or financial harm to you and your family. The good news is that you can be compensated for all you’ve suffered through damages. Damages here refer to the legal term for a sum of money that is awarded to an injured person as compensation for his or her injuries and other losses. As long as you can establish that someone else’s negligent actions have directly resulted in your injuries and loss, the insurance company may agree to pay you a lump sum—either voluntarily, or by order of the court.
Meeting all of these criteria usually means you have a valid personal injury claim, as long as you did not, in any way, contribute to your accident and therefore the resulting injuries. This is because Maryland enforces the contributory negligence law which bars anyone from receiving monetary compensation when they are found to be responsible for their own accidents.
Common Mistakes People Make That Could Cost Them Their Personal Injury Case
To avoid losing your lawsuit even before you file for it, there are a few mistakes you should look out for. Avoiding these mistakes will go a long way in helping you secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other losses.
These are some of the most common mistakes that most people involved in accidents make that could cost them their case:
- Giving out a recorded statement to the responsible party’s insurance company. Your statement will most likely be misconstrued and used against you later on in your case, so it is in your best interest to NEVER talk to them without your lawyer.
- Taking the Quick Settlement Check. This is common with most people involved in a car accident, or any other kind of accident that resulted in a personal injury, who haven’t retained the services of a personal injury lawyer. They are often sent a settlement check, along with some documents that release the responsible party from all liability once you collect the payment. Never accept any check without consulting with your personal injury lawyer.
- Getting too much or inadequate medical care. Lack of money, fear of doctors, or not knowing the extent or severity of the injuries suffered are some of the reasons people give for not getting adequate medical care. This will hurt your case, because the insurance company will not believe you are injured if you don’t seek medical attention; on the flip side, if you seek too much medical attention, the insurance company will accuse you of trying to rack up the medical bills and seriousness of the case to get a higher settlement. We encourage you to discuss with your personal injury attorney for an in-depth and unbiased recommendation.
In conclusion, the only real way to know if you have a solid personal injury case is to consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss the specifics of your case. While this article aims at providing a general guideline, it should be taken as just that—a guide.
Contact us today at 410-749-5144 for a no-obligation consultation to discuss the specifics of your case. The consultation is free.
Frequently Asked Questions: Personal Injury
Personal Injury FAQs
Do you have questions about filing a personal injury claim? Have you or someone you love and care about been hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence? We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers below that help you better understand necessary components of personal injury cases in Maryland.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take?
If you, or a loved one, have been hurt or injured by the direct actions of someone else, then you can file a personal injury claim against that person. How long it takes to win your case from the moment after filing the claim depends on the experience of your lawyer and the circumstances surrounding the accident. At the Law Offices of Hearne & Bailey, we are committed to helping our clients spend as little time as possible between filing a claim and getting compensated.
What Goes into a Personal Injury Case?
Most Maryland personal injury cases involve a lengthy process that could be further aggravated and dragged on endlessly if an incompetent lawyer is handling the case; for this reason, it is imperative that you ensure only experienced personal injury attorneys handle your case. A brief overview of a Personal Injury case involves meeting with your lawyer, filing the lawsuit and gathering evidence, entering the discovery phase, undergoing a few pre-trial resolutions and (most often) reaching a settlement. If you’re unhappy with the settlement offer, then the case can be brought to trial, where you will receive monetary payment if the case is won. One of the key factors necessary to win a personal injury lawsuit is to prove that the other party caused the accident that resulted in your injuries due to negligence.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is defined as when a person does not practice a reasonable amount of care for the safety of others. When someone gets hurt or killed as a result of negligent behavior, then the at-fault party will be held liable; as mentioned above, proving negligence is the key to filing a successful personal injury case.
How Much Will I Be Compensated?
The amount of money you are compensated will be based on several factors. As mentioned above, the first step is establishing the negligence of the other party that resulted in the accident that caused your injuries. The amount of money you receive as compensation depends on:
- Lost wages;
- Medical expenses;
- Estimated future wage loss;
- Estimated future medical bills;
- Emotional and physical pain; and,
- Trauma sustained.
What is a Contingency Fee?
Usually, a personal injury case is taken on a contingency basis, meaning your lawyer will be paid a percentage of your settlement; simply put, a contingency fee means you will only pay your lawyer if there is a settlement with the insurance company, or a court judgment if the case goes to trial.
Do I Need To File A Lawsuit Before Collecting Compensation For My Personal Injury?
In most cases, no. Under most circumstances, as long as there is a police report and witness testimonies to clearly show that you are the victim of the at-fault party’s negligence, the defendant’s insurance company will most likely accept responsibility (called liability); from that point forward, the only negotiation between your lawyers and the insurance company that will occur is the amount they will pay for your damages and your medical expenses, also known as compensation.
What Are The Expenses Associated With A Personal Injury Case?
As mentioned earlier, most attorneys in Maryland take on cases based on a contingency basis, so most of the expenses associated with the case are advanced by the attorneys and paid from the settlement or judgment proceeds. Common expenses associated with a personal injury case include:
- Obtaining medical records;
- Court filing fees;
- Depositions; and,
- Expert witnesses.
What Does “Contributory Negligence” Mean, And How Does It Affect My Personal Injury Case?
The state of Maryland is one of five that practices contributory negligence instead of comparative negligence when deciding who the “at-fault” party is in a personal injury case. Comparative negligence means that if both parties were found responsible for the accident, the amount of compensation the victim will receive will be determined by the percentage of fault accorded to the victim. Under contributory negligence, however, if the victim is found to have failed exercising “reasonable degree of care and caution” in any way, this may serve as a bar to recovering any form of compensation.
What Am I Expected To Do In A Personal Injury Case?
The most important action you could take is to retain the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Discuss your injuries with your lawyer and let them know what damages you intend on claiming. If you get offered a settlement, you will be required to discuss this with your lawyer and decide if you want to take the settlement or move the case to trial. Moving the case to trial can yield more monetary rewards, but could take longer to resolve. Know that if you decide to move to trial, you will be a key part of the litigation process, so if you are shy or do not want to be in the public eye then this should be considered.
The Law Office of Hearne & Bailey has decades of collective experience in resolving complex Maryland personal injury cases. We have successfully represented people who have been injured in car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, and more. Contact us today at 410-749-5144 for a free consultation.