Weather related automobile accidents and your rights….

It’s that time of year again when mother nature renders her will on all of us who live in the parts of the county that are susceptible to winter weather. This is the time of year where I get numerous calls from locals who were involved in weather related accidents both in Elkton, Cecil County and throughout the State of Maryland. These accidents can happen in a number of ways, and I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss the rights that you’ll have in accidents that are either single vehicle accidents, accidents where you or a driver of your vehicle is at fault, or those accidents where someone else is at fault for the loss. Many lawyers will not discuss the rights you have in single vehicle losses and those where you’re at fault (or have contributed partially to) because it does not render an opportunity for that lawyer to make money on that specific claim. The purpose here is to provide some education regardless of the situation, and make sure you’re covered and taking care of yourself the best way you can.

  1. Call the police and have them file a report. Regardless of the fault scenario, or what you think the fault scenario will be, have the police file a report. Especially if multiple parties are involved, this can be important it setting up the appropriate claims after the fact.
  2. Call my office. Again, even if you think you’re at fault for the accident, or if it’s a single vehicle accident, I will help guide you through the process of setting up claims with your insurance company, getting your vehicle fixed, and determining what medical payment/wage loss insurance coverage you may have. If you’re injured, and your insurance will pay for treatment, there’s no sense in not getting the care you need. Fault for an accident and injuries are usually not interconnected. It is important for your own wellbeing to get the care you need.
  3. Don’t call the insurance companies. Again, an offshoot of #2 above, let my office handle that. If it’s a case that we’re going to represent you for against a third party, our fee is a percentage of that recovery whether we make the calls or you make the calls. Why would you do something that you’re paying me to do? If it isn’t a case that I’ll be taking on, like the single vehicle accident, I’ll still call and report the claims for you, and help guide you through the injury and repair process at no charge. Again, I don’t collect a fee on these cases unless and until I get you compensation that isn’t related to the repair to your vehicle or direct payment for your injuries or wage loss.

Assuming the best, and that you’ve dodged the weather bullet this time, what things can you do to be better prepared in the future for any accident, not just a weather related one?

First of all, call my office and request our free guide to maximizing your Maryland auto insurance policy. It’s available on Amazon for $24.99Handling Maryland Auto Accidents Following Inclement Weather, but if you call my office at (410) 885-6200 and mention this article, we’ll send you a copy absolutely free! You can also request a free e-book version by visiting www.marylandinsurancebook.com. If you want the free print version, though, you have to call! We’ll also send you a few accident preparedness kits to throw in your glove box in preparation of an accident.

Save my injury hotline number in your phone under ‘Accident Attorney’ so you’re doubly prepared. The hotline number is 410-975-7000, and in times of inclement weather, nights, weekends or holidays will go direct to my personal cell phone, or someone else in the office who is handling emergency calls during that time frame. This isn’t the regular office number, so if you are a client with a case related question call the normal number, 410-885-6200, for quickest response.

 

 

Should you settle with the insurance company? Do you need a lawyer?

In this profession I am often asked the question about whether or not someone who has been injured in an automobile accident should or should not hire an attorney to facilitate the settlement and/or eventual lawsuit associated with their claim. There are very few instances in which the answer to the question is consistent with self-representation. The bottom line in these types of cases is that insurance companies run a business that for the most part is based on collecting premiums, and keeping that money. They will take any opportunity to decrease the money that they need to pay out, even if the decrease is just a few hundred dollars. If you think about it, some of these insurance companies are HUGE, and likely have millions of claims for injuries each year, or even every month. If they were to save just $100 each claim over one million claims….do the math.

Here’s the real thing you need to realize and think about when considering handling your own Maryland Auto accident case, or especially handling your own Elkton or Cecil County Auto Accident Case. I probably see or hear about more people here in Cecil County trying to settle on their own than in any other county I’ve worked in: Do you pose a substantial and credible threat to litigate your case on your own? If the answer to that question is anything except for a solid YES, then the insurance company will treat you as if you will never file suit, wouldn’t know how to file suit, and they assume you’ll accept the first offer that they make to you.

When you hire an experienced auto accident lawyer, the game drastically changes. In many instances offers to settle immediately multiply by a factor of 5 or 10 times what they were to an unrepresented party. Why? Mainly because I know what the case should be worth, I know how to negotiate with each insurance company(yes, each insurance company negotiates differently than others) and have absolutely no fear or hesitation in my willingness to file a lawsuit on your behalf, and take the right case all the way to trial and get what the case is worth!

Through my years in this business, I have seen clients walk into my office with settlement checks handed to them on the scene of the repair facility by an adjuster for hundreds of dollars. Hundreds! These were claims where we ultimately settled for as much as $20,000 when all of the appropriate medical treatment was had, and the claim was negotiated properly.

Check back for future posts on appropriate medical treatment after an auto accident, the importance of having your vehicle repaired, the impact of a lawyer’s fees on your injury settlement and other important and insightful topics. Do  not try to settle these cases on your own. Call me, (410) 885-6200, especially if you accident happened in Cecil County Maryland. I charge no up front fees in these cases, and there is rarely a case where I don’t put at least triple in your pocket what the insurance company initially offers when you try to settle on your own!

Second Degree Assault- State Drops All Charges

Today I represented an individual accused of having committed assault in the second degree (CR 3-203) in two separate cases with two separate complainant. Second Degree Assault in Maryland carries a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine of $2,500.00. Given 2 separate and technically unrelated charges, my client was potentially facing 20 years in jail for these charges. Originally, the State presented a desire to proceed to trial, and there was a possibility that we would have had trial today, or possibly elect to have a jury trial in the Circuit Court. Through some negotiation, and some investigation into one of the alleged victims, the State was convinced to drop all charges in both cases. A very happy client!

Are creditors calling and harassing you?

We often get calls from prospective clients for debt relief and/or bankruptcy by people who are overwhelmingly being harassed by creditors calling to try to receive payments on open accounts, or work out payment plans or other payments.

These calls often are made at all hours, and now are being made on home phones, cell phones, and even at places of employment.

Bankruptcy Can Stop Creditor Calls!

To obtain relief from creditor harassment, you can file for bankruptcy. Telling a creditor you are going to do it is not enough. Creditors know this, and will not stop bothering you until they receive the order from the court. They know that once you file for bankruptcy protection, they will probably be unable to collect all of the debt.

Here are the procedures by which a bankruptcy filing will stop creditor calls:
• Immediately upon the filing of your bankruptcy case, the bankruptcy court issues an order that stops all collection efforts against you. The order issued by the bankruptcy court is called the “Automatic Stay.”
• After you file the bankruptcy petition, the court mails a notice to all the creditors listed in your bankruptcy schedules.
• Creditors will also stop calling if you inform them that you filed the bankruptcy petition, and supply them with case number.
• If a creditor continues to call you or contact your employer, the court may impose fines, punitive damages and even jail time because of the court order violation.
• If your case is discharged, then creditors and their collection companies are permanently prohibited from contacting you unless they have received special permission from the Bankruptcy Court, or your debt is one that is exempted from your discharge.

Filing of a bankruptcy case really does give you a fresh start. Eliminating the debt allows you to start over, rebuild your credit, remove the stress and threat, and move on with your life.

For more information on filing a Bankruptcy, contact our office at 410-885-6200.