Unfortunately, at some time in our lives, most of us will have the unpleasant experience of being involved in an automobile accident. When you are in a car accident in Maryland or Washington, D.C., even if you are not injured, there are certain things that you should and should not do.
If you are involved in personal injury litigation arising from a car accident in Montgomery County, Prince George's County or Washington, D.C., you will benefit from consulting an experienced attorney.
Stay At The Scene
If you are involved in an accident involving injury, or substantial damage to property, stay at the accident scene until the police tell you that you can leave. If you have any question about whether the damage caused by the accident is substantial, err on the side of caution - when the law requires you to wait for the police, leaving the scene of an accident can result in driver's license sanctions and even criminal charges. In the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, we have countless separate law enforcement agencies. For instance, if you are involved in an accident on the beltway, it would not be uncommon for you to encounter Montgomery County Police, Prince George's County Police, Maryland State Highway Patrol, or a local police for like Takoma Park, Rockville or Greenbelt police departments. Use common sense when dealing with anybody at an accident scene.
Safeguard The Injured
If somebody is injured, and you are trained in administering first aid, try to help. Do not move an injured person. Have somebody call the police to report the accident. The person who contacts the police should tell the police that people are injured, if possible also providing the number of injured persons, so that enough emergency personnel respond to the scene. If you are on the roadway, turn your flashers on, or use flares to warn approaching traffic of the accident.
In any accident, you should obtain the following information about:
- The other driver: Name, address, driver's license number, insurance information, and license plate number.
- Witnesses: Name, address, and telephone number.
- Police officers: Ask the police officer's who investigate the traffic scene to provide you with a business card, with the "incident number," so that you can obtain an accident report. Most officers will provide this information to you, even if you don't ask.
- The location: You may wish to take notes about where the accident occurred, the road conditions, speed limits, traffic control devices, the weather, and the lighting.
- The accident: You may wish to take notes about how the accident occurred, such as the direction of travel of the vehicles involved in the accident, and what the cars were doing at the time of the collision.
- Take Pictures: Everyone has a camera phone. It is wise to document the accident scene with photographs and video taken on a phone or other handheld device.
Be aware that if litigation results from the accident, you may have to share your notes and photographs with somebody that you are suing, or somebody who is suing you.
Do Not Admit Fault
Even if you think you are at fault, do not admit liability. There may be factors which you don't know, which played a role in the accident, and it may turn out that the other driver was more at fault than you.
Do not make statements to anybody at the accident scene, except for the police. When you speak to the police, tell them only the facts of what happened. Let the officers draw their own conclusion from the facts.
Get Medical Care (See a Doctor)
If you are in a state such as Maryland, where no fault insurance law covers medical treatment necessitated by an automobile accident, and don't seek medical care, you may later find that you are unable to obtain "no fault" benefits for your injuries - your insurance company may argue that your injuries arose from something that happened after the accident. It is important to get checked out by a doctor if there is any question that you may have suffered an injury during an automobile accident.
If you are injured in the accident and sue the other driver, you may similarly find that the other driver argues that your injuries were not related to the accident.
Also, the "adrenaline rush" from the accident can mask your symptoms - a physical examination may reveal an injury that you do not yet feel.
Tell the doctor if you have any loss of memory, headache, blood or fluid in your ear, dizziness, tinnitis (ringing in the ears), disorientation, nausea, confusion, or any other unusual physical or mental feeling.Many people hit their heads, or suffer brain injuries in automobile accidents, and don't realize that they are injured - it is best to be safe, by reporting your symptoms so that the doctor can rule out the possibility of a concussion or a had injury.
Hire An Experienced Maryland / District of Columbia Injury Lawyer
The insurance company you are making the claim against will have attorneys representing and fighting for them. Lawyers are professionals who spend years and countless hours studying the particulars of the law and gathering knowledge to represent their clients to the best of their abilities. When you've been in a car accident, you have a lot on your mind. Aside from any emotional turmoil and stress, you have to deal with your injuries, damage to your vehicle, handling your claim, and any other issues. Lawyers can help you deal with the process of your claim and reduce your stress in the process. If you are involved in an accident in Washington D.C., it is likely that your case would be handled in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia or Federal Court in the District of Columbia. If your accident happened in Montgomery or Prince George's County, Maryland your case would be filed in the District or Circuit Court for these Maryland counties, or possibly Maryland Federal Court. It is a good idea to hire an experienced injury lawyer that regularly litigations in these venues. If you are a victim of an accident or injury, the attorneys at Malloy Law Offices can assist you in receiving the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys are experts at handling auto accident cases and will pursue all types of compensation including payment of your medical bills, compensation for your pain and suffering due to injury, payment of lost wages, and possible punitive damages. Schedule a consultation today by contacting us at (202) 464-0727.