FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a personal injury in Maryland?
Personal injury can also include a doctors misdiagnosis of a minor bump on your head, that later begins to show signs of a serious brain injury after a slip and fall accident. Nursing home abuse and sexual abuse cases are also included in personal injury. Medical malpractice and permissibility claims also fall under the personal injury umbrella because such cases often involve injuries sustained because another individual or organization failed to provide a reasonable standard of care.
There is no limit on the ways a person can be injured. In many cases, more than one defendant is included and in most tragic cases individuals may die as a result of their injuries which could lead to a wrongful death claim. An experienced Waldorf accident law firm will be able to assist you in the event you elect to pursue legal action
How much is my case worth/how are damages calculated?
There are a lot of other factors that are included in the determination of the value of your case. This includes the jurisdiction of the accident. In the state of Maryland, Prince George’s and Baltimore City, they tend to be very plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions. That is if your case does go to court and you have a trial, the judges and juries tend to be generous in compensation to victims of personal injury cases.
Another factor is that adjustors like to view photos and property damage, so it is important to begin documentation of your case early on. You should take photos of the property damage not only to your vehicle, but of the vehicle that struck you causing the accident to occur. It is also important to photograph the crash site and very serious injuries that may have led you to treatment at the hospital or shock trauma, displaying your recovery process. These are just a few variables that are taken into consideration when determining your case value.
Of course, if you have a permanent injury or a severe disabling injury those also increase the value of your settlement/verdict as well. If you are flown off to shock trauma and spend a week or two or more in the hospital, your injuries are more serious, your medical bills will be extremely high, resulting in a much greater settlement. The more injuries and the longer the treatment you have, the larger your settlement will be.
Do I need a lawyer to handle my case?
Not in every case do you need a lawyer. When you have an accident and you have not been injured, but you have minor property damage, I recommend you handle the property damage claim yourself. If the adjustor does not handle the claim fairly, then I would contact a lawyer and arrange to file suit. However, I would highly recommend that if you are injured you do hire a Waldorf accident law firm.
First, if you have been injured, you will be going solo against the insurance adjustor and the insurance company who know how to handle these claims and unrepresented claimants. They will devalue your claim and may try to deny and stall the handling of your claim, which if you are not careful time can run out.
I would highly recommend that you give my firm a call because we are a very experienced and well-known personal injury law firm. A personal injury attorney will be able to handle your claim from cradle to grave. They will be able to process your claim, but more importantly, if your lawyer is highly skilled and has a history of success (winning cases at trial), they can be sure the insurance company is held accountable. If you have severe injuries, disabling injuries, a medical malpractice claim, nursing home abuse/negligence claim, you should hire an attorney.
How should I choose a personal injury lawyer?
If you have had a personal injury I would recommend our Waldorf accident law firm because we have a history of success against every insurance company that I face, as well as extensive knowledge and experience in handling personal injury claims. Personal injury claims are the focus of my law practice. I have over 200 jury trials and over 1,000 bench trials under my belt.
When you are choosing a personal injury lawyer you need to ask that lawyer not only how long they have been in practice and how many claims they have handled, but also when was the last time they tried a case, how many trials they have had in the last six months, and what are the results? If you find a lawyer that has not had more than three trials in the last three to six months, you need to find a new personal injury attorney. If you are with a lawyer who has had more than three personal injury trials in the last three to six months, than you have a personal injury attorney who has the experience to handle your claim regardless of the complexity of your case or the severity of your injuries. Those are the factors I would look for.
If you interview the attorney in a face-to-face you need to see how well you get along with that attorney. Sometimes you can have a great attorney but the individual doesn’t mesh well. Sometimes clients have to change a little bit to meet the personality of their attorneys and sometimes the attorneys have to do the same thing as well.
What are the important factors to look for in a lawyer for a personal injury case?
Ultimately you are dealing with an insurance company who has to decide how much they are going to pay you and whether or not they will run the risk of taking the case to court. An overwhelming factor in that is who you have hired to be your lawyer.
When should I hire a personal injury lawyer?
Why should I pick you over other lawyers/law firms?
Another big factor is that we have an extensive history of successful settlements and verdicts. We do not settle cases unless clients are happy with the amount. If an insurance company is not willing to settle your claim for a reasonable amount, we file suit and try your case.
We take pride in representing our clients in the courtroom, but also enjoy the process that takes place before. We have one end in mind, and that is a positive client experience which can only be achieved if the compensation is more than adequate and the client is satisfied. We have a long list of satisfied, happy clients and 70% of business comes from client referrals.
How much does a personal injury attorney cost?
As far as costs, my firm advances all the costs. The client is ultimately responsible for the cost that comes from the settlement or verdict. In district court cases this is usually a small amount, however once suit is filed the costs do increase, especially if you have a circuit court case. We usually advance costs of experts, which is why you want to hire a personal injury attorney because we have the resources to pay for the costs up front.
Do I have to pay anything up front?
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE BEEN IN A CAR CRASH/ACCIDENT?
If you have been involved in a motor vehicle crash you should:
- Remain calm and try to proceed in a business-like manner.
- Check yourself and your passengers for any injuries and tend to such before proceeding.
- Call law enforcement right away. They should be involved to help collect information from witnesses, to obtain information from the other driver, and assist in any type of emergency response that is required.
- Collect information if you can at the scene right away. Obtain the other driver’s license, insurance information, address, and telephone number. If they do not cooperate, you should contact the police. Maryland law requires you to provide your name, address, license, and insurance information to the other driver.
- If you have been injured and did not go to the hospital right away, see a doctor within 24 hours of the accidents occurrence. You may feel a rush of adrenaline after the accident rather than pain. In fact, some serious injuries do not have symptoms that are apparent immediately following the crash, but you may be sore in the next day or two.
- If law enforcement is called, cooperate with them completely. Do not admit fault or impose blame on anyone at the scene, just stick to presenting the facts to the police officer.
- You should then photograph all of the property damage, including the other vehicles involved and the crash scene to present where the crash occurred.
- Get the name and badge number of the police officers who have responded to the scene. Ask them how to get a copy of the police report.
- Contact your auto insurance company promptly to report the accident and follow their instructions for filing a property damage claim. If you have PIP, ask them to send your PIP information and forms to your address.
- If it is safe to do so, move your car out of the highway as to not cause more accidents. If your car is towed from the scene, be sure to ask where it will be towed to and how to get it.
- Contact our law office for an experience personal injury attorney, Thomas Pyles.
What is an uninsured/under insured motorist claim?
Underinsured motorist claims occur when a driver who causes the accident and your injuries has an insurance policy, but the limits on the policy are smaller than what your claim is worth. Maryland requires you have mandatory insurance coverage on your vehicle. However, they require a minimum coverage of $30,000.00 per individual and $60,000.00 per accident. Some drivers have more coverage than that, but drivers who have the minimum coverage are at risk. If you are in a bad accident and seriously injured your medical bills and whole claim could far exceed the $30,000 minimum. Therefore, if you have enough coverage, more than $30,000.00, you would be eligible to make an underinsured motorist claim against your insurance company. My advice would be to check your coverage to make sure you have enough in place.
What if I am hit by a driver who flees the scene?
Who pays my medical bills and lost wages?
Those who have health insurance should attempt to run the medical bills through their health insurance carrier. Ultimately, your insurance carrier will want to have an offset from any recovery made through a third party. We have had great success in getting health care liens reduced. There is one way to look at the effects of having your health insurance carrier pay. They usually pay at a reduced rate and with an experienced personal injury attorney they can get the carrier to take a lesser portion.
Your lost wages are a bit different. Usually, if you are not involved in a workers compensation claim, you will have to seek compensation through your PIP carrier. However, if you have been involved in a work related accident you would want to exhaust your PIP benefits first and then apply for workers compensation. In either case, you should contact the Law Office of Thomas E. Pyles, P.A. at (301)705-5006 for a consultation.
How long will it take to settle my case?
How is the decision made on whether to settle my claim or file suit?
How does the insurance company make its initial offer?
What impact does it have on my claim if my personal health insurance pays my medical bills?
Healthcare providers generally take the amount that health insurance company’s pay. The health insurance company will pay a reduced percentage of what the provider has billed. Even if the insurance pays 50% of the bill, the provider usually limits the expense to the payment by the health insurance company. In the end, an experienced personal injury attorney will negotiate with the health insurance carrier to receive a reduction of the lien.
Do I have to report my motor vehicle crash to the police and insurance company?
If you would like to seek coverage or some type of benefit from your insurance company, then you will need to report the accident to your insurance company. If the other driver was at fault you will need to report the accident to their insurance carrier so that a claim can be made.
What is PIP (personal injury protection) insurance and do I have it?
What does PIP cover?
Should I talk to the other driver’s insurance company?
What is a diminished value claim?
How do you prepare a diminished value claim?
What are some of the main reasons truck accidents happen?
Due to the mere size of commercial trucks, which include delivery trucks, big-rigs, 18-wheelers and everything in-between, the damage that they can inflict in an accident is immense. Truck drivers face greater challenges than most drivers. Large trucks have blind spots on all sides, make wide turns, and have a greater stopping distance than the average vehicle, which can lead to unexpected collisions.
A few of the major causes of commercial truck accidents include improper truck maintenance, as well as overloading of cargo, and the pressure placed on drivers to deliver loads as quickly as possible which often leads to driver negligence. Vehicle failure coupled with driver failure make commercial trucks some of the most dangerous vehicles on the road.
Some of the leading causes of truck accidents have been reported to be:
- Speeding and other traffic violations;
- Improper training and practice;
- Sudden deceleration or stops;
- Driver fatigue;
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Road construction.
If I have been involved in a truck accident what type of evidence will strengthen my case?
- The truck drivers’ personal record, including documentation of his or her status as an employee or independent contractor;
- The truck drivers’ log book;
- The truck drivers’ accident history;
- The truck drivers’ driving history including records of any violations;
- Any data collected from the truck drivers’ on-board recording device;
- Any safety violations committed by the owner, manufacturer, or other vehicle components.
- The trucking companies policies and procedures;
- The speed the truck was traveling at the time of the crash;
- Truck maintenance records.
If I am in a truck accident, who can I potentially bring a lawsuit against?
If you have been involved in a serious truck accident with a commercial carrier, there is a wide-array of potential defendants who could be subject to lawsuit. Not only would you have a right to bring suit against the driver, but also the employer, the retail company if the driver was hauling goods, and the company who performs maintenance on the commercial vehicle. Each suit is a case by case basis that would depend on the facts of the circumstance.
What is medical malpractice?
First, we have to understand what negligence is. Negligence is a failure to exercise the care that a reasonable prudent personal would exercise in like or similar circumstances. In tort law, negligence applies to harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.
Malpractice is a type of negligence; it is often called “professional negligence.” It occurs when a licensed professional (like a doctor, lawyer, or accountant) fails to provide services as per the standards set by the governing body, which is known as the standard of care, subsequently causing harm to the plaintiff. Cases of negligence or malpractice are filed usually in civil courts to get monetary compensation for mental or physical injuries caused.
What are the requirements for filing a medical malpractice claim?
Filing a medical malpractice claim in Maryland is government by Maryland Code Annotated Courts and Judicial proceedings Section 3-2A-04 (6) (4). Under this statute, medical malpractice lawyers must file a Certificate of Qualified Expert with the Director of the Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office within 90 days from the date of the complaint.
The Certificate of Qualified Expert must contain an opinion from a qualified physician stating the physician has reviewed the plaintiff’s medical records and that, in the physician’s opinion, the defendant(s) were more likely than not negligent in treating the plaintiff. The Certificate must state the specific injury complained of, the alleged breach of standard of case, what the defendant doctor or doctors should have done to meet the standard of care, and must infer that the defendant doctor(s) breach of standard of care proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Defendant physicians in Maryland medical malpractice claims must also file Certificates from Qualified Experts indicating that they either complied with the standard of care of that the alleged breach did not cause the plaintiff’s injury.
Arbitration is no longer mandatory; it can be waived, so you can proceed directly to court after filing your Certificate. If both parties agree to try arbitration the arbitrators will decide whether the health care professional has any liability, and will also create an itemized list of damages.
Either party can reject the arbitration and by doing so does involve some risk. All findings made by the arbitration panel are taken into consideration by the judge or jury and are deemed to be accurate unless the judge rules otherwise. Furthermore, if you reject the arbitration panel’s findings and then lose in court, you will be forced to pay the opposing sides cases.
What is nursing home abuse?
There are several fundamental types of nursing home cases. These could include abuse, neglect, and medical malpractice.
Nursing home abuse is defined by federal law as the willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or punishment with a result of physical harm, pain, or anguish. It may involve assault and battery, virtual imprisonment or unreasonable restraints, deprivation of food, drink, medicine, or other basic necessities. It could also include mental and emotional abuse.
Another form of nursing home cases is neglect. The distinction between neglect and abuse is that abuse is done with intent and neglect is a result of negligence or indifference. Nursing home neglect is defined as failing to care for a resident to the degree, which a reasonable person in the same position would exercise. The standard for nursing home negligence is whether the caregiver acted as an ordinary care provider in the same position would have. Neglect can include any of the following physical or mental neglect, failure to prevent infection or bed sores, unreasonable use of restraints on patients, failure to notify medical doctors of medical issues, and failure to prevent dehydration and malnutrition.
There are a number of physicians who care for nursing home patients. There are times when that care that is provided by physicians is inadequate and can lead to a medical malpractice case. Doctors and healthcare providers do not have the right to ignore or not fully care for nursing home patients. There is a small minority of medical doctors that do not provide the same level of care to someone who is elderly and in a nursing home as opposed to other patients. These individuals deserve the same respect as anyone else.