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!

 

What do do following an automobile accident in Maryland?

My office handles a lot of Maryland and Cecil County automobile accident claims. Through handling these claims, we also work with a lot of injured victims from these accidents. We understand that the moments directly following an automobile collision can be a stressful time, and often times you may not immediately know what to do. While it is unlikely that you are reading this post from the scene of an accident, hopefully you are seeing it not having been in an accident, but will remember some of the tips provided here, or even bookmark this article to reference should the unfortunate instance of an accident occur. You may also contact my office and request a free accident preparedness kit, as well as our new book on buying automobile insurance, all in preparation of something you will hopefully not need to use!

Here are some quick dos and don’ts directly following a Cecil County Auto Accident:

  • Call the police from the scene-They will likely be able to ensure that insurance information is exchanged, and if anyone is transported in an ambulance they will complete an official report.
  • Call my emergency accident hotline 410-975-7000. We will walk you through the rest of these tips so you don’t forget anything, and we’ll literally handle all of the rest of the process other than your actual medical recovery. Save the 410-975-7000 number in your phone as ‘ACCIDENT ATTORNEY’ just in case.
  • Take photos of everything. Most people have smart phones, with cameras. Why not use them for something useful? Try to take photos of the position of the vehicles, license plates, driver’s licenses and insurance cards of the other driver. You can write down all of this info, but snapping a picture is easier, quicker, and can be more accurate than your handwriting at a nervous and stressful time.
  • If you think you are at fault for the accident, do not admit fault. That’s for the insurance companies and lawyers to work out. You’re likely not an expert in auto accident law, don’t admit to something that may not actually be your fault.
  • Seek the medical care you need. Often times adrenaline may mask some of your pain and injuries at the moment. Signs that you need to get in the ambulance are: airbags deployed, spidered or otherwise cracked windshields, the towing of any vehicle involved, or if you actually are feeling pain right after the accident.
  • Stay in touch with my office. After you’ve called us, and done the other things above. Stay in touch. We’ll monitor your progress in the medical realm, make sure that your vehicle gets repaired, and get you into a rental car. We handle all of this process, so you only have to focus on getting healthy.

These tips are very general, but usually applicable in most auto accident situations. If you have questions about these, before, during or after an accident, do not hesitate to contact my office on the non-emergency line (410) 885-6200. I or a member of my staff are always happy to address any such questions you might have.

Handling Auto Accidents During Inclement Weather

Are you ready for 2015?

We’re approaching the time of year here very shortly where many of us will begin to talk of new year’s resolutions. Some of those resolutions will involve some sort of a gym membership that will likely be unused by spring, or just an overall goal of losing weight, eating better, or perhaps some other more tangible goal.

Within my office, one of the many things that I will do to prepare for the turning of the calendar year is to

a: buy a new calendar for 2015!

b: set goals for my office, largely based on performance and helping out clients

c: archive files and “close out” the 2014 year

On a personal level, however, I find it important to spend the early weeks of a new year analyzing my personal automobile insurance policies. If I can make any general suggestions above and beyond what you may already have on your list, it would be to review and adjust your insurance policy for the new year. The laws about insurance change regularly, and with them the premiums may also change. Getting re-quoted may not save you money, but it’s worth doing because if you cannot get a better deal, you can stick with what you’ve already got!

A few quick tips on your Maryland Insurance Policy will be to make sure your liability and uninsured motorist coverage are representative of your income and your assets, maximize your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, and verify that any other insurance coverages that you have like homeowners or renter’s insurance are “bundled” together if they are written by the same company. This bundling alone may save you as much as 15% on your policy, which can be a big savings.

I am always happy to talk to clients and potential clients about their insurance policies. I offer a free in-office insurance evaluation to anyone who calls (410) 885-6200 and requests one. The best part is, I’m not an insurance agent and I CAN NOT sell you insurance. This means I won’t even TRY to sell you insurance, but I can give you some pointers on what might be beneficial for you to update, should you potentially be in an auto accident. Give me a call, let’s sit down and make sure you’re protected and in a position to maximize your recovery, should you get in an accident in 2015.

Also, be on the lookout to the soon to be published new edition of my book regarding explanations and tips on buying Auto Insurance in Maryland, due out in January 2015!

We’re short changing our clients in Maryland Auto Accident Claims

This shall serve as a general disclaimer that as of the time of this post that I am not an admitted or practicing attorney in any jurisdiction. Anything written in this post is merely my observation(s) as someone who has been involved in the legal community for nearly a decade, but not to be construed as or mistaken for legal advice. If you have questions or need clarification to anything discussed within this post, I suggest contacting a real attorney, or waiting until I have taken the bar, passed and have been sworn in accordingly.

I’ve worked in plaintiff’s personal injury in Maryland for nearly a decade. When I first began I really didn’t know what I was doing, but was taught very well by someone who thoroughly understood all of the legal aspects of the “game.” Through the years I’ve become more involved, learned a ton, and more importantly have gotten a lot of marketing experience under my belt. Much of this marketing experience has been through networking with other attorneys in similar situations in other states. Sharing ideas of what has and has not worked for each of us, and tweeking advertising/marketing systems in each jurisdiction.  In this conversations, we would often talk shop or discuss the practical aspects of the process in these cases. This would involve discussion of medical care, treatment, and the subsequent relationships with the medical providers involved in the core essence of an injury claim: the injury and treatment of said injury.

I was, and continue to be, shocked at the vast difference in medical care provided to patients/victims of automobile accidents from one state to another. My understanding is that much of this is due largely to the differences in the tort laws in each state. In plain english: doctors treat accident patients based on how they will be paid, not based on the care that is actually needed. It’s not just the doctors, though–this is a culture that is perpetuated by the lawyers who work with these doctors, refer cases to (excuse me, i mean suggest the providers to their clients as an option for treatment) and negotiate the payments of those bills, or actually determine what the treatment is worth.

I get it. States like Delaware, Florida, Pennsylvania that have some sort of mandatory first party medical coverage (usually PIP and/or Medpay) are states wherein their accident victims almost automatically get one, if not two MRIs during the course of treatment for an injury. States with high PIP, like Delaware and their mandatory $15,000 in PIP will not only get the MRIs, but they’ll get a regular course of pain management, including, but not limited to a number of injections that bill approximately $6,000 per procedure!

So my concern is this: Why not in Maryland? What has changed so much in the culture of a personal injury case in Maryland that often times victims may or may not go to the hospital, often go to a chiropractor for 6 or 8 weeks, and then they’re done. Many times they do not even get X-rays, and I don’t know that you can put the percentage of auto accident cases in Maryland where a patient gets an MRI on any chart! Maryland is what is known as a “low PIP” state. That means that a lot of the bills aren’t guaranteed to get paid until the case settles or reaches a verdict. In Maryland it is even possible for a policy holder to waive the PIP coverage, meaning no bills get paid until settlement. When they do have PIP, it is usually only $2,500–which once you leave the hospital is almost exhausted. My assumption and understanding from discussions with other practitioners is that many of these medical providers, doctors, therapists, chiropractors, etc  have become complete whores to the attorneys who feed them cases. This sounds like a great idea, but it seems like they’re driving the value of the cases into the ground, and more importantly they’re cutting corners on the care provided to the patients.

I’m not not a cynic, or a skeptic. I understand that some of the people that call up injury attorneys are not incredibly hurt. In many cases it is fair to say that they’re barely injured. However, I have observed over nearly a decade that this doesn’t matter one way or another. Someone who gets in a rear ender at 5mph and has scratches on his/her bumper is treated exactly the same way as someone who gets slammed in the rear and has over $4,000 in damage to the vehicle, or perhaps even a total loss. Maybe they go to the hospital, then to a med clinic or chiropractor only to get 6-8 weeks of therapy and a discharge order.

I know there’s something wrong here. I know it because of all of the times I’ve been on the receiving end of a call for an attorney I’ve worked for from a client who 2 or 3 weeks after that discharge is calling back and complaining that they’re pain has flared up again. I know this because in any office I’ve ever worked in (and I’ve worked with a number of lawyers over the years) that this call is more or less ignored. The client is told that they’ve been discharged and there’s not much they can do form this point unless they want to take the chance of not having additional medical bills paid.

So my question is why. Why has the culture changed so much in Maryland, or the view of these claims so watered down, than the accident victims are paying the price with insufficient medical attention? I’m not saying that anyone caring for them isn’t doing a good job, but sometimes the provider who has their hands on the patient today will not be the provider to ultimately finish the job. That is the reality of medicine. There are general practitioners, there are specialists. There are all of the other parts that interwork with those parts, and the picture of health is capable of being completed.

When I am admitted, I’m going to do something different. The conversations and dialogues to do different, to do better by our clients and patients, begins now. I am going to continue networking with medical providers within the “industry” and will likely begin to find new colleagues who are not in the “industry” and may not be in the PI industry because of the diminished level of care that has been happening in Maryland. I want to change the conversation. I want to change the culture.

At the time of writing this entry Jobeth Bowers is a 3rd year law student at the University of Baltimore School of Law. I plan to sit the Maryland Bar in July 2014, and plan to be admitted to practice in Maryland sometime in December, 2014. Today, I am not and do not claim to be a lawyer.