Car accidents happen quickly, and being involved in a car accident is a frightening experience. If you are involved in a car accident in Maryland, it is important to understand the law.
Maryland Car Accident Law is a Fault Based System
Maryland uses a fault-based system to determine who is liable, or responsible, for a car accident.
Maryland car accident law treats most incidents as negligence cases. Negligence is a legal term for carelessness or inattention. Some of the factors that tend to implicate a driver as being liable for an accident include:
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence
- Running through a clearly marked traffic signal
- Making an illegal turn
- Striking a vehicle from behind in a rear-end collision
In Maryland, there is presumed liability for rear-end collisions. Presumed liability means that if a stopped vehicle is struck from behind by another vehicle, the moving vehicle is automatically presumed liable or at-fault for the accident. There are exceptions to this general rule, so it’s important to document the accident as thoroughly as possible even if you think you may be at-fault. It is also imperative to consult with a Maryland car accident lawyer like those at Zirkin and Schmerling Law if you have been involved in a rear-end collision.
Maryland Car Accident Law Defenses
There are different defenses that an at-fault driver may raise to escape liability. It is important when you are involved in a car accident lawsuit to remember that you aren’t dealing with the individual driver. Most drivers carry some form of insurance, so it will be the insurance company that will defend the lawsuit. They will do whatever they can to avoid having to pay.
- Contributory Negligence. The most common defense an at-fault driver will raise is contributory negligence. Contributory negligence is unique to Maryland car accident law, and most other states follow the comparative negligence standard. Contributory negligence holds that if you contributed to the cause of the auto accident in any way, then you have no claim against the driver who was primarily responsible for it.
- Causation. Another defense an at-fault driver may raise is that something other than their negligence caused your injuries. For example, they may try to claim that you had a pre-existing condition that caused the injuries that youare presently claiming.
Monetary Compensation Under Maryland Car Accident Law
If you have been involved in a car accident, there are two main types of damages you can sue for: property damages and injury damages.
Property damages include the money you need to repair the damage to your vehicle. The at-fault driver is responsible for repairing your car, unless the total cost of repairs exceeds the value of your car. If the cost of repair is greater than the value of your car, the at-fault driver is only responsible for property damages up the value of your car. Property damages also include the money you need to get a rental car while your car is being fixed or while you shop for a new one.
Injury damages are the other type of compensation you may be entitled to after a car accident. These damages seek to compensate the injured party for money spent on medical bills, lost wages, and other economic losses resulting from the accident. However, economic damages do not tell the entire story. Maryland law also permits injured drivers to recover damages for pain and suffering, permanent disfigurement, inconvenience, loss of consortium, and others.
Ultimately, the amount of money you are able to recover depends on the extent of your injuries, how much insurance protection you and the at-fault driver have, and whether you will be able to fully recover. You may also be able to file a claim under Maryland’s personal injury protection, or PIP insurance.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you should consult with a qualified legal expert like the attorneys at the Zirkin and Schmerling Law. An attorney will be able to help you understand the legal impact of your accident, gather the necessary evidence you need to make your case, and help you achieve the best possible outcome.