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!

Guest Post: What You Need To Know To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit In PA & Maryland

Occasionally we have the opportunity to welcome some guest insight from a colleague either related to our profession and the cases we handle, or in this case an attorney from Pennsylvania who handles medical malpractice claims. Kevin R. Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. and shares with us insight about medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania, and how they different from medical malpractice claims in Maryland.

A medical malpractice lawsuit is used by patients to try and protect them from a negligent doctor who either knowingly or unknowingly caused damage while performing a medical procedure.  As I state on MarcianoLegal.com, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Specifically, medical malpractice can come from:

  • Prescribing improper medication or prescribing too much medication
  • Not using the basic standard of care to treat patients
  • Failing to warn patients about potential side-effects to medications or procedures
  • Making an incorrect diagnosis

The state of Pennsylvania has its own rules when it comes to preparing a medical malpractice lawsuit, and you should hire an experienced legal professional to help you understand and abide by those rules.

Standard Of Care

Before you can file a personal injury lawsuit for medical malpractice, you must prove that your doctor violated the standard of care for your state. Each state has nuances to their standard of care that your attorney will know, but standard of care is generally the accepted method for delivering safe and effective medical care in any situation. For example, the standard of care in most states says that doctors need to get patients to sign a document stating that the patient has been explained the risks of their treatment and accepts those risks.

A medical malpractice case can be brought against a doctor who either knowingly or unknowingly violates the state’s standard of care. If the doctor’s negligence and violation of the standard of care causes injury to a patient, then that patient can seek out a lawsuit that would award damages based on the decision of the state’s civil court.

A Medical Malpractice Case In Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania has some rules regarding medical malpractice lawsuits that attorneys and victims must follow. When it comes to awarding damages, Pennsylvania does not put a cap on any of the potential awards a court might offer. The different types of damages awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit are:

  • Compensatory Damages – These are the real damages such as lost wages and any medical bills the victim has accrued related directly to the medical incident.
  • Non-Economic Damages – This is the category of damages used to determine the value of the patient’s pain and suffering.
  • Punitive Damages – These are damages added to an award if the court determines that the doctor was purposely negligent. Compensatory and non-economic damages have no cap, but punitive damages are capped at a maximum of 200 percent of the compensatory award.

The Pennsylvania statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case has two parts to it. The patient has two years to file a lawsuit after discovering the error, or after it should be reasonably expected that they would discover the error. The courts usually decide when the patient should have noticed the damage based on the evidence that is available. However, there is a second limitation that says that no medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed seven years after the medical procedure has been performed.

The Difference Between Pennsylvania And Maryland

When comparing the process of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania to the process in Maryland, there are two significant areas to look at.

  • Statute of Limitations – The time frame for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Maryland is much tighter than it is in Pennsylvania. While a patient has three years from the time they discover the doctor’s error to file their lawsuit, they only have five years from the date the procedure was performed to get their lawsuit filed. Any medical malpractice lawsuit filed after the five-year deadline will not get heard in Maryland.
  • Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are much more common in Pennsylvania than they are in Maryland. In Maryland, it is much more difficult to prove intentional negligence on a doctor than it is in Pennsylvania.

It takes an experienced legal professional to file a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in Pennsylvania or Maryland. If you feel you are the victim of a negligent doctor, then you should contact an attorney immediately to avoid running up against the ticking clock that is the statute of limitations.

Author bio:

Kevin R. Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. Marciano focuses his practice on representing catastrophic injury victims, including claims for medical malpractice, pharmaceutical liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, product liability, premises liability, construction accidents, liquor liability, personal injury and mass tort class actions.

 

Maryland Auto Accident. Should you Hire a Lawyer?

Accident cases in Maryland can be difficult to navigate. Sometimes you might think it’ll be smooth sailing because the other insurance company has accepted fault for the accident, and now your case is a “slam dunk.” In many cases this is exactly what the insurance company wants you to think. Fault isn’t the only hurdle to jump in these cases. The value of the case is often times more important than fault. Insurance companies thrive on offering substantially less for your injury claim than they’d have to pay if you went to court, or even if you hired a lawyer to settle the claim.

You’ll need to know that ALL of your medical bills are being paid out of the settlement, not just by your health insurance company or your PIP insurance. You’ll also need to know if your health insurance is entitled to reimbursement for what they paid out. Are your lost wages covered in the settlement? After all of this, is there anything left over for you? Our office works hard to make sure that each and every factor of these cases is covered, and that our clients are getting what they’re entitled to under the law, nothing less.

If you’ve been injured in an accident and the insurance company is offering you a little bit of money, or if they’re ignoring you entirely, call us today at 410-885-6200 to see if we can help you.

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #4

We’re continuing out countdown of the most dangerous accident spots in Cecil County, Maryland for the calendar year 2016. Last week we saw the 5th most dangerous accident intersection(s) as rated by the cases my office handled in the 2016 calendar year.

4. Rt 40 and Rt 213 (Bridge St/Augustine Herman Highway)

rt40rt213elkton

If you were to have asked me what intersections I thought were the most dangerous in 2016 without actually looking at the numbers this one would have been my guess for the top spot. Surprisingly, this intersection ranked number 4 on the overall list for 2016 accidents.

Yes. That mean’s there are 3 intersections in Cecil County Maryland that we handled more accidents from than the interchange between Rt 40 and Rt 213!

This is likely one of the busiest intersections in Cecil County, right in the heart of Elkton. The intersection of 2 major county arteries is also the intersection of many many vehicles, not in a good way!

The lights here are on a timed sequence, but they’re not entirely consistent. If you’ve ever tried to turn left onto 213 from the eastbound Rt 40 lane, you know that left arrow lasts maybe 3 or 4 cars…if everyone is paying attention!

Be careful traveling through this intersection, and don’t try to “speed up” and beat any lights here, otherwise you might become a client of ours, or even worse create a client for our office. Don’t just be careful here, but also be careful in our #3 most dangerous intersection for 2016.

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

Cecil County’s Top 5 “Hot Spots” for 2016 Accidents #5

Our injury law office here in Elkton, Maryland has grown quite a bit before opening up in late 2014. We handle a LOT of accident and injury claims throughout the State, but many of them happen right here in Cecil County or involve citizens of Cecil County. In our normal process of doing year-end reporting from 2016, we noticed some interesting trends when it comes to the location of many of the accident cases we handle. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 Accident Locations in Cecil County. You may want to take note of this list, and be extra aware when driving in these areas.

5. Rt 272 near the North East Walmart

272 at Walmart NE

The intersection with the 5th most injury related accidents in Cecil County in 2016 is really 3 different intersections that sit back to back to back in North East, MD. We’ve represented clients in a variety of accidents that have occurred entering and/or exiting the main entrance to the plaza where the Walmart is in North East. Just a bit north of this intersection is the main entrance to Timberbrook community, Rogers Road. We have almost as many accidents in 2016 at this intersection, as there are a few feet down the street.

272atRogers

Just a few hundred feet north of Rogers Road is the intersection at Nazarene Camp road. Not quite as many as Rogers Road or the Walmart, but just as close in location that we felt the need to lump this in. This grouping of 3 intersections is actually only our 5th most “dangerous” for 2016. Number 4 has us representing even more clients….

 

If you’re injured in an accident in Cecil County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland please call our office at 410-885-6200. We’re happy to discuss your claim, and handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf. Most importantly, we don’t charge you anything up front, and only get a fee if we are successful in getting you money.

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.

Policy Limits Offer- Rear End Motor Vehicle Accident

We’re proud to discuss a recent case result for one of our Cecil County Automobile Accident Clients. In a rear end loss from earlier in the year, our client suffered a variety of injuries as a result of the accident. We have presented the claim to the insurance company for the at fault driver, who has agreed that they owe the claim, and will be offering the limits of their auto insurance policy.

The next step in the process is to seek additional coverage, and negotiate the outstanding obligations to our client, mainly through the subrogation of the health insurance company.

We hope to have this case entirely resolved within the next two months, but the heavy lifting is over for now! Another great success for our firm and our clients!

Filing suit in your Maryland personal injury case

Of the Cecil County and Maryland Auto Accident cases that my office handles, not all of them become lawsuits. Many of my clients initially come to me concerned about not wanting to sue anyone, or the concerns that go into such an undertaking. Roughly speaking, no more than 25% of the claims handled within my office require the filing of a lawsuit. Of those, even less actually go to trial. Most of these claims resolve via settlement prior to a lawsuit being filed, or resolve via settlement through the litigation process, but before trial. In Maryland, I believe around 3 or 4 percent of injury claims are actually resolved by a trial.

If your case does require litigation, there are usually two reasons this will happen:

  • There is a dispute or disagreement as to who is at fault for the accident
  • There is a disagreement as to the extent of injuries and/or value of the claim

The reason a case becomes a lawsuit is somewhat irrelevant to the litigation process to follow. Here are some tidbits as to what one would expect, should their case go to suit, as the process is usually new for most clients, and can be somewhat complicated and confusing:

  1. The attorney or law office will file the lawsuit, known as the ‘complaint’ with the appropriate court. Maryland has trial courts for each of the 24 counties(including Baltimore City) and each county has 2 levels of trial courts for these cases, District and Circuit Court. The court usually sets an initial trial date at this time, but that date often changes as the case proceeds.
  2. Within a few weeks, the court will return to the attorney a ‘writ of summons’ to be served onto the defendant(at fault party) in the case.
  3. The law office will usually contract a private process server to serve the writ of summons onto the other party.
  4. Once served, the other party should be communicating with their insurance company, who will assign an attorney to represent the defendant in the proceedings. If you have been sued for an auto accident, you should forward the documentation to your insurance company immediately.
  5. The parties, through their attorneys, will exchange information involving the claim through a process called discovery. Depending on which level of court and the value of the case, this process can be simple and quick, or long and drawn out.
  6. If the matter is not resolved through the early stages of litigation, some courts will schedule a settlement conference or some sort of mediation to attempt to resolve the matter.
  7. If all else fails to resolve the matter, trial will commence as scheduled (or re-scheduled).

Each county is different as far as timeframe and scheduling is concerned. Generally speaking, a district court lawsuit should go to trial within 4-6 months of the initial filing. Circuit Court trials can be quite different from county to county, and can go to trial anywhere from 9 months from filing to as much as 18 months in the more busy jurisdictions. More complicated cases with multiple parties involved, such as medical malpractice or wrongful death cases, can take even longer!

No matter what the scenario is, if a case you’re involved in is part of a lawsuit, it is incredibly important that you are available and accessible to your lawyer or their staff. Often times there are deadlines associated with aspects of these cases.

When care goes wrong

At some point in our lives we most all place our trust in others to care for members of our family on a fairly regular basis. Whether or not this care is provided on a daily basis for our young children while we are at work, or whether we’re discussing the point in our parents’ lives in which they are in need of hands on care in a nursing home or other adult care facility.

When you really think about it, there is a substantial amount of trust that must be placed in these facilities, and the care and attention that they will provide to our loved ones. Some of these concerns we have are somewhat simplistic, in as much as the basic needs of life are provided, but often times some more substantial, but less obvious, needs are overlooked until it becomes apparent that they are not being provided for.

Specifically in adult care facilities, we work with families of the victims of negligent care, and at times outright abuse of our family members being “cared for” in these facilities. It is difficult to make an across the board blanket statement about any one facility, or what we have observed, but there is a vast range of experiences that vary from facility to facility. Some of these places seem to just be lining up bodies to collect medicare payments, with little or no real concern for the wellbeing of their clients. Others are fantastic, and truly seem to have the best interest of those for whom they’re trusted to care for in mind.

We regularly hear about and deal with situations involving patients who are ignored in beds, and end up with horrific bed sores. Other situations result from not enough care and attention to clients/patients who are at a greater risk of falling. Some of these fall cases come to us after someone has fallen at least 3 times that the family has learned of, and suspected numerous more that have been hidden from the family to avoid issue.

These are very serious issues, and they deserve serious attention. Our practice can bring light to these horrible situations, and seek compensation for injuries. We handle these cases with no up front fees, and charge no fee should we be unsuccessful in recovery. Call 410-885-6200 today to discuss and schedule a free initial consultation.