Filing a Personal Injury Claim Following a Maryland Traffic Accident
When a person becomes badly injured in a traffic accident, whether he or she is a driver, passenger, pedestrian or other innocent bystander, the first priority is to get that individual to a hospital for medical treatment. While those closest to the victim may be thinking in terms of fault or responsibility, the main focus is usually on getting the best care for any bodily injuries that their loved one needs in order to survive and fully recover, if at all possible.
As Maryland auto injury lawyers, the legal staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, are fully aware that filing a lawsuit against the negligent party or parties is likely not foremost in any victim’s mind; certainly not while that person is in pain from those injuries sustained in a road accident, or worse, fighting for their very life should their injuries be critical or life-threatening. Still, when a serious car, truck or motorcycle collision sends an innocent victim to the emergency room, and when that individual is facing days or weeks of medical treatment to correct any physical problems resulting from another driver’s negligence, a personal injury claim should be considered.
We understand that many people, when severely hurt or badly injured in a traffic wreck, are perhaps reluctant to pursue monetary damages via a personal injury lawsuit. However, it is important to remember that the individual(s) who is at fault in causing an injury-related car or commercial trucking crash should be held responsible for the injuries he or she inflicted on another person; and, hence, it is only natural that the victim and his family think seriously about recovering the costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation expenses, and even lost wages, as well as claims for pain and suffering.
Lebowitz & Mzhen is an experienced law firm dedicated to helping victims and their families recover damages following injury-related auto accidents, as well as fatal traffic wrecks caused by another individual. Filing an injury claim typically requires the assistance of a skilled attorney trained in the area of personal injury law. When a person is hurt badly in a car or truck collision, then it is almost imperative to seek the professional advice of a trial lawyer who understands Maryland’s auto insurance statutes and who has extensive experience litigating these kinds of courtroom cases.
Any experienced personal injury lawyer knows that the majority of automobile accident lawsuits are won because a claim of negligence can be substantiated by the plaintiff and his attorney. This means that the evidence brought forth by the victim shows beyond a doubt that another individual did something wrong.
Examples of negligence can include a motorist running a red light and striking the victim’s vehicle; a car that hits a pedestrian or bicyclist because the driver was not paying attention at an intersection or crosswalk; or one motor vehicle colliding with another due to an unsafe lane change. For the court, the standard when determining negligence can be summarized with a single question; that is, Did the motorist act as any reasonable driver would under similar circumstances?
If the answer to this simple query is, No; that the defendant’s actions (or lack thereof) resulted in bodily injury, then the negligent driver can be deemed responsible under the law. In a few cases, violation of traffic law, or some other ordinance or statute, may be sufficient evidence to prove negligence. In such cases, the legal terminology is “negligence per se.” In such instances, negligence can usually only be proven if the court deems the said law was created to prevent the type of harm that occurred.
One of the more important points to remember when deciding whether or not to file a personal injury claim is how long ago the accident occurred. Some traffic accident victims have been known to wait too long before approaching a qualified personal injury lawyer to handle their case. Sometimes a person may delay initiating a lawsuit because he or she feels fine at the time. Occasionally, it isn’t until years later that an individual can begin to suffer greatly from the aftereffects of an injury received in a prior car or truck accident.
As experts in personal injury law and litigation, the legal staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen knows that it detrimental to sit on a personal injury case for too long. Besides the risk of having witnesses forget what they saw or police records being lost or misplaced months or years following a traffic accident, the statute of limitations for auto injury claims is just three years. And while three years may seem like sufficient time to allow a plaintiff to file a claim, there are many people who have unadvisedly delayed any legal action until it was too late.
Here in Maryland, the statute of limitation governing most automobile accidents is the overarching deadline that every accident victim must keep in mind. Legal professionals know that these types of lawsuits must be filed within three years of the date of accident. That said, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen remind potential clients not to wait until the last minute to file suit. It takes some time to prepare the documentation to file a claim, and leaving one’s attorney only days until the statute of limitation is about to run out on your accident claim is no way to begin a successful auto accident lawsuit.
The delay doesn’t always occur due to procrastination, however. Quite often, attorneys receive calls for help from frustrated accident victims after months or years of fighting with insurance companies unwilling to pay damages, all the while knowing that time will eventually run out for the victim and legal action will not be an option.
Injured parties who spend lengthy periods of time negotiating with auto insurance carriers may wait until the statute of limitations is almost upon them, and only then turn to a personal injury lawyer in desperation. Unfortunately, many attorneys prefer not to get involved in a case on such short notice. This is because even the most seemingly simple auto accident cases offer some complications and need to be thoroughly researched before filing a claim.
As a rule of thumb, individuals who believe they have a legitimate claim against a negligent motorist should make a point to contact a qualified auto injury lawyer at least six to 12 months before the statute of limitations period for that accident. Lebowitz & Mzhen cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of giving one’s legal representative sufficient lead time to prepare for and to file a car, truck or motorcycle injury claim.
One exception to the aforementioned three-year rule is when an accident has happened to a minor child. Under Maryland law, minors (those under 18 years of age) have until the age of 21 to file a lawsuit. In such instances, a young victim of a car accident will be able to file a claim up to his or her 21st birthday.
These previously mentioned deadlines apply to standard accident cases. Occasionally, the victim of an automobile accident will need to make a claim against their own insurance carrier for uninsured or underinsured benefits. Known as “breach of contract” claims, these are cases where a victim contends that his or her insurance company should pay as a result of an accident and consequent injuries. In such instances, there is also a three-year time limit, but in such instances the deadline is calculated from the date the victim knew (or should have known) that he had a claim against the insurance company.
Lebowitz & Mzhen has the knowledge and courtroom experience to represent victims of car, truck and motorcycle collisions. In terms of the statute of limitations for such injury cases, we have a parting word of advice for those who may be waiting for the right time to file. Please remember that the closer one gets to the statute of limitation deadline for filing an injury lawsuit, the less negotiating power the victim will have. This is because many insurance adjusters know it can be very difficult for an auto accident victim to find a good lawyer as the deadline for filing looms closer.
As experienced Baltimore injury accident attorneys, we at Lebowitz & Mzhen understand that proving negligence can be difficult without the proper research and case preparation. Our staff is well aware that a case which is fully ready to go to trial also has a better chance of influencing an out-of-court settlement. Such settlements can be better for plaintiffs and their families because they can eliminate the potential stress of a trial, thus allowing victims to recover damages more quickly and get on with their lives.
Whenever a person is badly injured in a car or truck crash, we recommend that the injured party seek the help of a qualified auto accident attorney with expertise in personal injury claims. The professional staff at the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen is ready, willing and able to discuss the details of your automobile or trucking injury accident. Simply contact our offices toll-free at (800) 654-1949); or you can email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a no-obligation initial consultation.