So you have “full coverage” you say?

I work with hundreds and hundreds of accident clients each and every year throughout the State of Maryland. As a result, I have hundreds if not thousands of conversations with clients and potential clients about their auto insurance coverage. In fact, I find education on insurance to be so important that I regularly talk to my firm’s non-auto accident clients about their auto insurance policies!

One of the common things I hear on a regular basis is “I have full coverage, my insurance is good.”

This can be right, in some situations, but the statement isn’t really that simple.

In Maryland, full coverage really just means that you have liability, which is required on all policies, and collision coverage. For some companies, they’ll even sell you a limited version of PIP (which is secretly a waiver for you and your immediate family) and call it full coverage.

More importantly to note, that having liability coverage does not mean that you have enough liability coverage. Imagine you’re going to your favorite coffee shop and ordering a full cup of coffee. Unless you’re leaving room for cream and sugar, you’re likely going to get a full cup, but are you getting an 8oz cup, a 16 oz cup, or something even larger? Is your caffeine fix going to last you until the end of the day, or are you going to sputter out around midday because you got the smaller cup?

“Full coverage” insurance kinda works the same way. In Maryland, the State minimum liability coverage is $30,000 per person, $60,000 total per accident. This means that if you cause an accident with injuries that are more expensive than $30,000 to one person, you could get sued and be personally liable for the excess amount. It also means that your uninsured motorist coverage will not be more than $30,000. Uninsured motorist coverage is what kicks in when the at-fault driver of an accident in which you suffer injuries either has no insurance, or a small amount of insurance, you can get extra. If you’re hurt worse than a $30,000 limit on an uninsured motorist claim, the most we can recover for you is probably $30,000.

Take a look at how big the cup is, not just whether or not it’s full, the next time you go shopping for auto insurance.

I suggest a minimum of $100,000/$300,000 for most individuals who do not own their own home. If you are a home owner, you shouldn’t have insurance coverage any less than $250,000/$500,000. Also, make sure you keep your UM/UIM coverage matching your liability limits.

Never EVER waive PIP insurance. Inquire about how much PIP insurance you can buy, or add in med-pay with companies who offer it. You’ll be surprised how inexpensive it is to add or increase these helpful parts to your insurance policy.

As always, I’m happy to take a look at your auto insurance policy and give you my suggestions and tips from an attorney’s perspective. There is never ever a charge for this. Call my office whenever at 410-885-6200.

PIP waiver tricks- Stop paying for nothing

Imagine that I am making you a simple offer, and you must choose one of these options:

A) Give me $1.00 today, and each year after this one, and if you ever get in an accident I’ll give you $100. I’ll also give $100 to anyone else in your car. I don’t care who is at fault for the accident, I’ll give you the $100 because you got into an accident.

B) Give me forty cents today, and each year after this one, and if you ever get in an accident, too bad.

Which one would you choose? No-brainer, right? Regardless of the amount of money you’re being asked to give me, you’d expect at least something in return for it, right? In fact, as a lawyer, if I charged you money for absolutely no work or no benefit, I’d likely lose my license, or at least be sanctioned by the bar!

The problem is….insurance companies in Maryland are making this deal with drivers in the state ALL THE TIME, and they are getting people to choose option B far too often!

What am I talking about? I’m talking about Personal Injury Protection coverage, or PIP. I’ve talked about PIP countless times in various ways on my site, and to my clients. If you haven’t had a conversation with me about PIP coverage, you’ve probably never been my client.

The photo linked to this article is a scan of a real PIP waiver premium disclosure. This is a general document that is contained within every single auto insurance policy written in the State of Maryland. It discloses the cost of having PIP insurance, and it also discloses the cost to WAIVE that coverage. Yes, the COST to WAIVE the coverage. As you can see from the disclosure, most insurance companies charge a minimum of 40% of the normal premium to have the coverage in order to waive it. Over the years in this business, I have seen this number as high as 60%.

Yes, paying money to waive a coverage. This is an offer that is made in every auto insurance policy. We’re not talking about $100 here, either! The minimum PIP coverage on a policy that doesn’t carry this waiver is $2,500 per person, per accident. They don’t just give you this money for getting in the accident, but it can be used to pay for medical bills, ambulance bills,  and time missed from work.

Don’t do it. Don’t save a few dollars on your insurance policy, and lose out on important medical payment or wage payment coverage should you ever be in an accident.

Call us any time to talk about your insurance coverage. We’re not insurance agents, and we cannot sell insurance. What we are, is happy to talk to you about your policy, or a quote from a new insurance company, and let you know what we think about the insurance coverage that is being offered, and if anything is missing that you’d want to have if you were involved in an accident.

Our office always takes calls at 410-885-6200 and is happy and available to discuss auto insurance at absolutely no cost to you!

A potentially dangerous time on the roads

By now most of us in Maryland and the surrounding areas have “dug out” of the recent blizzard that hit us late last week. While our roadways are seemingly cleared of ice and snow, that doesn’t necessarily mean the dangers that come from such a storm are gone.

While the roadways are mostly cleared, there still remain large piles of shoveled and plowed snow throughout areas along the side of roadways. Medians that were never touched, as there was to be no traffic there, and other adjacent areas that have remaining snow and ice will now begin to melt as the weather heats up a bit.

This can create unrealized dangers on the roadway, and extra care and caution should be used to avoid accidents!

Much like the time directly following the start of a rain storm can be a dangerous time to be on the road, the times of the day where the ice and snow begin to melt and run onto the roadways can be equally dangerous. The same aspect of water mixing with the oils on the roadway will happen whether that water is new rain, or run off of newly melted snow and ice.

Also, the evening hours as the temperature drops can be even more treacherous, as that water on the roadways can freeze, causing ice incidents.

Take extra care in these days and weeks following the blizzard, or any blizzard for that matter. Give yourself extra commute time, and extra follow distance between you and the vehicle in front, just in case a quick stop is required. The last thing you’ll want is to have your brakes lock up, tires skid across the recently melted water, and cause an avoidable accident!

As always, should the other drivers on the roadway not see this, not heed this advice, and put you in a situation where you’re the victim of such an accident, do not hesitate to contact our office as soon as possible at 410-885-6200. We can help navigate the insurance company nightmare, make sure you’re paid fairly for your injures, and in many cases recover for the diminished re-sale value of your damaged and repaired vehicle.

How long will my injury case take?

There are a variety of common questions asked by clients who I represent in their Maryland Injury Cases. In previous articles I’ve discussed the number one question asked, which is what is my accident case worth. The number two question is usually how long will my injury case take. This question is almost as tricky as the case value one, and equally difficult to answer in the early days and weeks of an accident case.

First of all, we’re dealing within injury cases here. These cases are valued, as noted in the previous article, based upon the injuries sustained and the recovery time required for those injuries, you’ll arrive at the baseline time required to resolve on of these cases. There are very few instances in a Maryland personal injury claim where it is appropriate to settle that claim prior to the claimant being completely finished with treatment for injuries. That being said, any discussion of the timeframe for resolving one of these starts with the treatment time for injuries.

Our office does most of the groundwork on these claims within the first days and weeks following the incident, and our being hired by a client. This includes contact with insurance companies, setting up of claims, requesting medical records, requesting additional documentation, etc. Most of this “heavy lifting” that sets the stage for the rest of the claim is done early on, and usually quite efficiently within our office.

Then we wait. We wait until our client has reached a point in their physical recovery process known as Maximum Medical Improvement, often referred to as MMI. This means that either the injured person is back to where they were pre-accident, or they’re at a point in which they’re as good as their going to get, and there is a permanent injury of some sort.

Once MMI is achieved, our office will collect the remaining medical bills and records we need to move onto the next phase of the claim, which would be preparing the demand. Usually we will have all of the bills and records for these claims within 2-4 weeks from the time a patient is discharged, but that varies depending on the medical providers involved.

The demand drafting process is somewhat quick within our office. Depending on the extent of the injuries, this may take a few hours, or a day to get ready. Then, we send it to the insurance company for the responsible party, and we’re in another waiting phase. Typically it takes between 4-6 weeks for most insurance companies to contact us with an offer to resolve these cases. Then, we contact our client to discuss the offer, and take it from there. More on the injury settlement process can be found here.

Then, we’ll either settle the case after a week or two of negotiation, or we’ll prepare to file suit in the matter. Each of these paths are unique to the individual case, and will be discussed in detail with our clients before any decisions are made.

If you’re interested in learning more about the value of your Maryland personal injury or auto accident case, or are concerned with how long it will take to resolve, contact my office as soon as possible (410) 885-6200 to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer.

 

The aftermath of a Motorcycle Accident

Automobile accidents can be dangerous. Many of them result in injuries to some or all of the people involved in them. These injuries can vary from minor, to very serious or even fatal. The process of successfully handling an automobile accident case from the legal perspective can be complicated, as there are a variety of factors that can influence the bottom line resolution for the client.

Motorcycle accidents can be even more complicated in Maryland. There are a lot of major difference in the way that insurance works for motorcycles, as well as the obvious difference in likelihood of a serious injury in a motorcycle accident. More often than not motorcycle riders are thrown from their bikes as a result of accidents, and suffer a variety of different injuries. Very simply put, I don’t have a whole lot of car accident clients who suffer from road rash. There are often much higher medical bills, longer time missed from work, and longer periods of time to recover from the injuries in motorcycle accidents.

Motorcycle accidents in Maryland can be complicated

While some people think that they can get away with handling an automobile accident on their own, without the aid of a lawyer, it’s almost impossible to survive a Maryland motorcycle accident without one. One major difference in motorcycle accidents in Maryland is that motorcycle insurance policies do not cover personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. If you don’t already know, PIP is the coverage that will pay some of your medical bills and/or wage loss prior to settlement, and without any increase in your premiums. Without this coverage, it is often difficult to find a doctor or therapist who will administer a long course of treatment without an attorney who will provide some assurance that they will get them paid at the time of settlement. Unless you’ve got about $6,000-$10,000 to fork out in cash to pay for this ongoing treatment, you’ll probably need some help. If you do have that kind of cash, you might deplete your resources pretty quick, as with motorcycle injuries you’re probably going to miss substantial time from work, and you won’t get that paid for right away…remember, no PIP.

My office is experienced in handling motorcycle accidents throughout the State of Maryland, and have handled these cases from the lower end, with relatively minor injuries, all the way up through those involving fatalities. We’re adept at guiding you through the process, making it so you can get medical treatment without needing to pay cash, and fighting for the compensation you deserve.

To discuss your Maryland or Cecil County Motorcycle accident with an experience lawyer, call us now at 410-885-6200 to talk to a lawyer, and schedule a free, no obligation consultation in our Elkton or Baltimore office.

Knowing what your accident case is worth

I wanted to discuss a variation on the common accident case value theme. This is, if you’ve been reading regularly, a fairly common theme with my posts as it is a common question that I get from my clients at many points throughout their claims. The main purpose of this particular post/article is to discuss the medical billing aspect of the process.

Myth: Many people are under the impression that your Maryland auto accident case is worth a multiplier of the total medical bills. That multiplier might be 2x or 3x or some 10x, but it’s a multiplier. This is entirely a myth. There is no hard and fast formula for determining the value of a Maryland auto accident case that fits nice and nearly into some variable type equation.

Each insurance company will use their own criteria to evaluate and make offers on cases, as will each judge or jury member weigh different aspects of testimony in determining a verdict, should a case go to trial and reach the verdict level.

The important thing to be aware of is whether or not the billing being submitted to the insurance carrier, judge or jury for consideration is the complete set of medical billing and/or records.

I receive a lot of litigation referrals from a number of law offices in Maryland. Sometimes, I also have clients who have fired a former attorney, or have had their case dropped, or for whatever reason have come to me after their case has been handled to some point by another lawyer or law office.

I recently took on one such case that was  handled by another firm, and for whatever reason the relationship between attorney and client broke down, and the client hired me. The entire file was forwarded to my office, and upon my review, I realized one major problem: A demand had been submitted to the insurance company, and was lacking no less than $6,000.00 in medical billing and the associated records to go along with that billing, and that’s just what I could determine in about 30 minutes of reviewing the file! Without a thought, the collection and submission of these bills would increase the previous offer by at least 20%. That’s a big number. That number is so big that it would almost offset the entire lawyer’s fees in the case!

The moral of the story is to be sure that a case being submitted to an insurance company, judge or jury for settlement is complete. This can be a daunting task for someone trying to handle a claim on their own, and clearly a difficult task for some that handle these cases professionally.

If you’re looking to have your case or an offer from an insurance company reviewed by someone with experience, contact me at (410) 885-6200. I will no review your settlement if you are represented by an attorney, as that wouldn’t be appropriate, but if you’re attempting to handle a claim on your own, I’ll gladly give you some of my time to take a look, and with no obligation discuss how I might be able to help you maximize the value of your claim.

Valuable Tips Series: Buying a used car in Elkton, MD

Many of our Elkton, Maryland auto accident clients come to us with many concerns, one of the first ones being what to do about their vehicle. Since opening my office in Elkton, Maryland in 2014, I have noticed a higher percentage of vehicle accidents being more severe, and causing most of the vehicles to be a total loss. This means needing to replace the vehicle, and needing to do so with a limited amount of time, as most insurance companies will only pay for rental coverage for a few days, or up to a week following the payout on a total loss.

As an attorney who aims to be a broad resource for my clients, not only providing legal services, but providing trusted insight on businesses in the Elkton area that I have knowledge or experience dealing with. Among them, is Premier Auto Exchange on Rt 40 in Elkton. You may know their location as the site of the old KFC. Premier auto exchange began as a generational auto repair business, with 3 locations in Elkton and Newark, DE, and took that care for quality cars to the sales level, largely based on demand from their customers for repair work. This ongoing video/informational series will encompass a series of interviews and tips from the owner, and sales manager on important factors to consider when purchasing a used car, whether as a replacement for yourself or when buying as a first car for a new driver.

For your very first car, here are some key considerations from Premier Auto Exchange:

At Premier, we advise all car buyers to purchase a car that you can afford to pay off in 48 months. You don’t want to spend the next 6 years paying off a car. We suggest that you also put down 20% on the car to keep from getting upside down, where you owe more on the car than it is worth. You never want to be in the position of owing more than your car is worth. If you determine that you can afford a car, then make sure you enter the dealership prepared with “The Folder” of competitive car price quotes, or you’ll overpay by thousands.

The most important things to consider with your first car is safety and dependability. If you are going to buy a used car, be sure to do your research on the track record of the vehicles you are interested in. You should also consider purchasing a warranty on the vehicle for the term of the loan. The last thing you want is an expensive repair while still making payments.  At Premier Auto Exchange we have a wide variety of warranties to choose from.

Please share this article, and book mark or subscribe to the page so you are alerted to upcoming editions of this series. For more information on our office, visit our website or facebook page. You can find Premier Auto on facebook, too. If you’re injured in an accident, call our office immediately at (410) 885-6200 before speaking to anyone else, especially the insurance companies!