Personal Injury in MarylandPage Overview
Anytime you crunch up your car it is a bit of a confusing and frightening experience. Especially if, despite being buckled in and the air bag doing what it is supposed to do, you suffered an injury. Even minor injuries can result in time away from your job, or mental stress that modifies your quality of life.
Suddenly, those late-night commercials with lawyers touting their services for settling personal injury claims begin to make sense. And if you are hurting and confused and going up against an ocean-sized insurance company, you are going to need all the help you can get. That is where these personal injury lawyers play a major role in helping you attain the levels of compensation that you deserve. This includes even the gray areas of emotional suffering.
Although the state requires motorists to carry personal injury protection (PIP) it still utilizes the tort system. Thus, fault is established and the driver deemed "at-fault" has to compensate all injured parties though their insurance company. You can bet the insurance companies have some well-paid lawyers on the payroll, and the last thing you want to do is get involved in discussions with them without representation.
What any lawyer will disclose is that if you are in an accident, there are certain things that you can do to help yourself in the long run:
- Call the police, regardless of whether the accident involves any apparent injury. If someone is in obvious pain, call an ambulance.
- Try to get people who witnessed the accident to give you their basic information.
- Take pictures. Hopefully you have one of those fancy cell phones that also come equipped with a camera. This is where it will really come in handy.
- Make sure to ask for the police report number.
- Give the other driver(s) involved your necessary information and also get theirs.
Before you can even wade into the settlement waters, you need to figure out a few issues related to the injury suffered. This is where you tread the waves of fault and cause.
- Fault of the accident must be clearly established, and the driver at fault, or the one liable, must be proven to have caused the accident.
- Demonstrate that injuries incurred were a result of the accident.
- Damages sustained both to property and to body by the driver established as the cause of an accident.
The percentage of fault is ultimately a huge factor in how an insurance company will begin assessing a claim for personal injury. This is just another good reason to have the representation of a lawyer. If fault and cause are not completely definable and it goes into the percentage phase, you will want to be sure you get the highest award.
Defining the cost of an injury is tough. There is a mountain of details to sort through (again, this is where a lawyer is handy) when filing an injury claim, and so many things one must consider besides who is simply liable and what that exactly entails.
insurance companies generally use a compensation formula to determine costs. But in many cases, the dollar amount presented is rather black-and-white and fails to consider the vague factors involved. However, a number is a number, and without representation you may have a tendency to jump at the initial settlement amount.
It is easy for an insurance adjuster to add up a figure in order to reimburse all tangible costs accumulated, and even tally up the financial losses from downtime at a job. But how do you calculate monetary compensation for pain and suffering, or the what-could-have-been costs? This is another reason why it is important to retain an attorney who understands and is experienced interpreting the complicated intricacies personal injury law.
Injury damages are split into three categories:
- Economic damage―The easiest to define, this is medical expenses, wages lost (past and future), and general "real" expenses.
- Non-economic damage―The vague category of "what ifs." Other things considered besides pain and suffering are emotional distress and loss of quality of life.
- Physical disfigurement and impairment―Consequences and costs of irreparable physical harm or permanent disability.
insurance companies tend to multiply the easily assessed monetary figure (economic damage) by a number based on the extent of the injury in order to calculate a settlement amount for the subjective (non-economic damages). If the injuries are minor, the economic cost is multiplied by 1.5 or 2 to devise a non-economic settlement figure. The worse the injury, the higher the number used (going up to 10).
If you are like most people, you'll probably want to hire an experienced attorney to help you through all the legal jargon and the nuances of your personal rights.
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