If you are injured in Maryland or Virginia traffic because another driver was negligent, you are entitled to compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and more, but compensation is not simply handed to you. To obtain it, you will need help from a Bethesda auto accident attorney.
It is best to seek an injury lawyer’s help immediately after you have been injured by a negligent driver, because that negligent driver’s auto insurance company will probably contact you soon after the accident.
You will need to refer that company to your lawyer and have that lawyer do all of the talking and negotiating on your behalf. When an auto insurance company contacts you after an accident, the company may be looking for an excuse to deny your injury claim or at least reduce your payout.
If you have been injured in a traffic accident, you should not make any oral, written, or recorded statement to an at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.
Although many auto insurance companies are managed ethically and professionally, even the best insurance companies are in business to make profits and not payouts. Every dollar paid out reduces the company’s profits, so reducing payout amounts is a priority.
If you are injured in an accident, and if you make a formal statement to a claims adjuster who represents the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company, it will be scrutinized when that company looks for a reason to pay you less than your injury claim is worth – or to pay you nothing at all.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company may compare your statement with any statements you made to the police or any statements you make in a deposition. If the company finds even the slightest inconsistency, it may claim that you lied, and it may attempt to deny your injury claim.
Some auto insurance claims adjusters will even ask you trick questions to elicit answers that can cast doubt on your claim. A claims adjuster may try verbally to bully or intimidate you into agreeing with a statement that is not true – and then use your response later to deny your claim.
Helping you is not a claims adjuster’s job, even though many adjusters seem friendly enough and ensure you that they are “there to help.” Always tell a claims adjuster (or any other representative of the other driver’s insurance company) to direct all questions to your attorney.
If you file a lawsuit and your personal injury claim goes to trial, the insurance company’s attorney can use any statement or misstatement that you may have made earlier. It is simply better to make no formal statement and to have the company contact your attorney instead.
If you were a driver in the accident, you also have to notify your own auto insurance company after an accident, but until you have consulted a Montgomery County car accident lawyer, do not even give your own auto insurance company any information beyond these basic details:
1. your name and policy number
2. the time and location of the accident
3. the other driver’s name and insurance company
4. the makes and models of the vehicles involved
You will have to provide your own insurance company with these details, but you are not required to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. If you are told that you must give either company a formal statement in order to receive your payout, talk to your attorney first.
If you are filing a personal injury claim, your personal injury attorney is the one who should be speaking to an auto insurance company on your behalf.
The bottom line is this: If you have been injured in a traffic accident because another driver was careless, make no formal or detailed statement to any auto insurance company before you have discussed the matter with a Maryland personal injury attorney.
The other driver’s insurance company may use one of several tactics to deny your injury claim. The company may insist that you were the driver at-fault for the auto accident, or the company may claim that your injury was pre-existing and happened before the auto accident and not as a result of it.
If you are injured by a negligent driver, taking each of these steps after an accident will keep you compliant with the law and put you in the best possible position to prevail with a personal injury claim:
1. Summon medical help and call the police. Even if you do not feel injured, have a medical exam promptly to ensure that you have not sustained a latent or hard-to-detect injury. Ask the police how you can obtain a copy of their accident report.
2. Exchange personal contact and auto insurance details with the other driver or drivers. Make sure that you have a way to reach that driver and that driver’s auto insurance company.
3. Take photos of the license plates, the general accident scene, the damage to the vehicles, and your own visible injuries. If you can, get the names and contact information of any witnesses. Photos and witness statements could be key evidence in support of your claim.
4. As soon as you have received treatment for your injury or injuries, contact a Bethesda auto accident attorney and schedule a free legal consultation.
Maryland’s statute of limitations gives you three years from the day you are injured to take legal action, but do not wait three years – or three weeks. Putting your case in the hands of the right injury attorney as early as possible is often the key to prevailing with a personal injury claim.
It does not cost anything to learn more or to begin the personal injury process. Your first consultation with an attorney is provided with no cost or obligation. Your case will be reviewed by a personal injury lawyer, and you will receive sound, personalized legal advice.
If you and your attorney agree to pursue your compensation with a personal injury claim, you will pay no attorney’s fee up-front or until your attorney acquires an acceptable out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict on your behalf.
This “contingent fee” system gives every injured victim of negligence access to the courts and the opportunity to seek justice. If you have been injured by a careless driver, before you speak to an insurance company, speak to a Bethesda personal injury attorney. That is your right.