These FAQs are designed for personal injury victims of auto accidents, truck accidents, and victims of medical malpractice. Because truck accidents and medical malpractice litigation have issues that are unique to those types of personal injury cases, our lawyers have also designed frequently asked questions that are specific to truck crashes and malpractice.
Our law firm has settled millions of dollars in personal injury cases. We settle a lot of cases. More importantly, we are willing to take them to trial and have done so successfully many times as our clients will tell you. If you have a question about your personal injury case, you can call us at 800-553-8082 or get a free no obligation consultation.
- If I was injured in an accident that was from the fault of someone else, how are my damages calculated? In other words, how much is my case worth? (This question is listed first because it is, understandably, the client's first question. [select here]
- Under what circumstances am I able to recover damages as a result of an accident or medical malpractice in Maryland? [select here]
- What do you mean by personal injury? What sorts of cases does this include? [select here]
- What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and do I have it? [select here]
- What if I am hit by a driver who flees the scene of the accident? [select here]
- Will I have to go to court? [select here]
- How much of my time will this take? [select here]
- How long do I have to bring a case? [select here]
- How is a decision made regarding whether to accept a settlement or go to trial? [select here]
- How does the insurance company its initial offer? [select here]
- Will I hurt the person I am suing by bringing a personal injury claim? [select here]
- Do I still have a claim if my medical bills were paid by insurance? [select here]
- How long will it take for me to receive a financial recovery in my case? [select here]
- What is Assumption of the Risk? [select here]
- Will the insurance company pay in Maryland for personal injury claims made by one spouse to the other? Can my children sue me or my spouse and recover against the insurance company? [select here]
- I suffered personal injuries in a truck accident. Do your lawyers handle truck accident cases? [select here]
- Can I bring a claim if I am in the country illegally? [select here]
- Am I required to report my motor vehicle accident to the police and the insurance company? [select here]
- Who pays my medical bills and lost wages? [select here]
- Can you recommend a doctor to me to treat me for my injuries? [select here]
- What is PIP (personal injury protection) insurance and do I have it? [select here]
- What does PIP cover? [select here]
- I am feeling better but I am still hurt. Should I continue to receive medical treatment for my injuries? [select here]
- How should I choose a personal injury lawyer? [select here]
- Do I need an attorney to handle my personal injury claim? [select here]
- When should I hire a personal injury attorney? [select here]
- Should I get a second opinion if a lawyer thinks I do not have a case?[select here]
- Why should I pick you over any other law firm? [select here]
- Do I have to pay you any money when I hire you? [select here]
- What geographic areas do your lawyers take cases from? [select here]
- I want to win my case. What is your record at trial? [select here]
To recover damages as a consequence of an accident or medical malpractice in Maryland you must have suffered an injury to your person or property as the result of someone else's negligence. In other words, the person or company who caused the harm must be at fault for your accident. In product liability cases, it may be the defendant is strictly liable for your injuries.
If I was injured in an accident that was from the fault of someone else, how are my damages calculated? (FAQ)
Damages in a Maryland personal injury case consist of three primary categories: medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering (almost always the largest component). In cases where the plaintiff's injury is such that he/she must be retrained for a new job, the costs associated with the retraining are also recoverable. This money is intended to restore your loss and is generally not subject to federal or state taxation. We write a good deal about the value of different types of personal injury cases on this website.
What do you mean by personal injury? What sorts of cases does this include? (FAQ)
"Personal injury" is a broad term that means any kind of accident that leads to bodily harm. Miller & Zois are Maryland personal injury attorneys but our law practice is actually more narrow. Our attorneys represent only personal injury clients who have suffered a severe injury in an auto accident, truck accident, product defect or as the result of medical malpractice. Because our Maryland injury attorneys have so narrowly defined our law practice, our lawyers exclusive focus on serious personal injury cases has allowed us to maximize the benefits of our experience to get the best results for our injured clients. By dealing just with these particular types of personal injury cases, our lawyers know the nuances of the laws governing tort cases and motor vehicle crashes in Maryland. We have great familiarity with the insurance companies' counsel adjusters. That reputation is as advocates who will ethically and professionally fight the insurance companies at every turn (a reputation we would not have if we spread themselves too thin handling all kinds of different cases). Also, because we have beaten all of the major insurance companies at trial, they know that our lawyers are not just bluffing during settlement negotiations about our willingness to go to trial. Accordingly, this focus, reputation and expertise allows us to put our clients in the best position to achieve fair compensation for their injuries.
What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and do I have it? (FAQ)
In Maryland, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage applies in two general situations: (1) Uninsured: the at-fault driver has no liability insurance, and (2) Underinsured: where the at-fault driver has insufficient liability insurance limits (at-fault driver's policy limits are lower than the limits of your uninsured motorist coverage). Essentially uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is insurance coverage that covers your accident just as your liability insurance provides compensation for the people that you might injure through careless driving. This coverage typically extends to family members who live with you and anyone who is injured in your vehicle.
Under the Maryland Insurance Article, a policyholder may waive UM coverage in the policy only if he/she executes a written waiver of that coverage. So if you did not expressly reject it, you have uninsured motorist coverage.
- Uninsured motorist frequently asked questions
- Don't assume you do not have uninsured motorist coverage. Maryland law has a lot of odd quirks that provide coverage.
How much is my case worth? (FAQ)
Predicting the trial value of any Maryland personal injury case is almost impossible. There are many factors that can affect the value of a case. Your attorney can only give you a general idea of the value of your case based on cases we have handled with similar injuries and will not be able to predict the precise amount you will receive. That said, our lawyers generally are able to give our clients a settlement range that they can reasonably expect after our lawyers have reviewed the client's personal injury case.
With respect to the value of your personal injury case if taken to trial by one of Miller & Zois' lawyers or another competent attorney, the results are even harder to predict. That value of your case is that value placed on it by six Maryland jurors. They decide together how much money to award you for your injuries. Accordingly, the value ranges for the exact same injury with similar facts vary widely depending upon who those six jurors are. Jurors bring with them, just as all of us do, their own personal biases that can either help or hurt you.
If you are like many of us, you still want some data, something to give you some idea of what juries are awarding in personal injury cases in Maryland. One study that found that the nationwide median jury award in a personal injury case was $38,461 and the nationwide plaintiff recovery probability was 55 percent.
What about Maryland? Here, the median compensatory award in auto tort cases was $12,813. The good news for Maryland lawyers and their clients is that the plaintiff prevailed in 69% of the cases (as opposed to 55% nationally).
Maryland plaintiffs prevailed in 83% of auto accident personal injury cases. The average jury award in motor vehicle crash claims was $11,277. In contrast, plaintiffs prevailed in only 8% of medical malpractice cases in Maryland (bearing in mind that most meritorious cases settle before trial) but the average jury award in health care error cases was $808,772. The study does not breakdown these jury verdicts by county, but clearly the larger jury awards in Maryland are in Baltimore City and Prince George's County (the courthouse is in Upper Marlboro).
This data was generated by an analysis of 250,000 personal injury cases in Maryland and across the country. What does this data mean for your case? Virtually nothing. If this data is discouraging to you regarding the value of your personal injury case, you might be comforted that Miller & Zois' average is approximately 20 times higher than the Maryland average. The best Maryland personal injury lawyers that meticulously prepare a case and present it honestly and fairly to a jury typically get much better jury awards than those who do not.
But our verdicts in personal injury cases, and the awards data set out above are not predictive of the results in any individual case. You need to discuss with your lawyers the specific facts of your case, the pros and cons, and come to a conclusion about the fair value of your case. This will include a discussion of the severity of your injuries, the amount of available insurance, and how clear the connection is between your injuries and the accident. It was also involve how strong your liability case is, the quality of the witnesses, and the expected jury perceptions of you and the defendant. Remember, the jury is not told there is insurance covering the claim.) This discussion will also include analysis of the venue where the case is being tried. In Maryland, as we mentioned earlier, Baltimore and P.G. County are suitable venues for plaintiffs. Conversely, in more rural areas of Maryland, such as Somerset County or St. Mary's County, for example, the jury awards are more conservative. This rule is true across the country -- juries typically award more money in urban areas than they do in rural areas.
What if I am hit by a driver who flees the scene of the accident? (FAQ)
In Maryland, if you suffer personal injuries as the result of the negligence of a hit-and-run driver, you may still recover for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering as if you knew the identity of the driver by bringing a claim under your own insurance policy's uninsured motorist provision. Essentially, the law treats that phantom vehicle as an uninsured driver.
Many states require actual contact with the phantom vehicle in order for a Plaintiff to bring a personal injury claim. Under Maryland law, however, contact is clearly not required and Maryland courts will not enforce any policy provisions from out-of-state insurers that require physical contact between the injured party and the at-fault hit-and-run driver.
- Learn more about hit-and-run and phantom vehicle cases
Will I have to go to court? (FAQ)
If there is no settlement offer, our lawyers are taking your case to trial. In most instances, the choice is yours because there is a settlement offer on the table. Because our accident and medical malpractice lawyers carefully screen personal injury cases and because our attorneys have a reputation with insurance companies for trying cases and getting excellent recoveries for our clients, the vast majority of our victims clients receive reasonable offers to settle before trial. However, because of the many factors involved, it is impossible to predict whether your particular case is one that will be settled or one which must be decided by a jury.
How much of my time will this take? (FAQ)
Surprisingly, your personal injury claim will not require a great deal of your time, unless it goes all the way to trial. After the initial interview, our personal injury attorneys will do almost all of the work for you. Your problems become our lawyers' problems. Your job is to recover the best that you can from your injuries from the accident or malpractice if you have not yet fully recover. Your time commitment obviously changes if yours is in the minority of our personal injury cases that goes to trial. The final trial preparation process will require more of a time commitment if your injuries are substantial.
- How long will it take for my case to resolve?
How long do I have to bring a case? (FAQ)
You must file your claim within the statute of limitations, a fixed period of time dictated by the law. In many injury cases in Maryland, you are required to bring your case within three years from the date of the accident. For an explanation of these time limits, always consult with a lawyer experienced in these matters. Some limitations periods are shorter than 3 years. Statutes of limitations may be extended in certain situations in Maryland personal injury cases, such as when an injured person is under the age of 18. Other statutes of limitations are very short, such as a claim against a municipality that must typically be made within 180 days of the date of the injury.
How is a decision made regarding whether to accept a settlement or go to trial? (FAQ)
You will meet with our team to discuss together what would be best for you and your family. Our attorneys' job is not to make the decision for you, but to evaluate the offer we have been able to obtain and provide the information to you, based on our attorneys' years of experience handling personal injury cases in Maryland, to help you make the best decision for you.
How does the insurance company decide how much to make its initial offer? (FAQ)
Typically, most insurance companies our attorneys deal with in Maryland accident cases use computer software to determine the value of auto and truck accident cases. The most prolific is one employed by a number of companies called Colossus, designed by Computer Sciences Corp., a California based company that values accident cases for insurance companies. Colossus is reportedly used by more than 50 percent of the nation's claims insurance adjusters. Many other insurance companies use a similar program. (Medical malpractice cases are an entirely different animal; almost every malpractice case begins in litigation.)
Essentially, the insurance company does is it inputs the data it receives from your medical records, lost wages, the severity of the accident, and where the accident occurred. The computer will give a higher value for a case in Baltimore City or P.G. County than it would, for example, for the same case in Anne Arundel County. It also inputs the taxpayer ID number of your personal injury lawyer which determines if your counsel has a history of taking cases to verdict in Maryland or whether they just settle all of their cases. Colossus then specifically looks to your injuries as described in your medical records. One of the most important questions is whether the injuries are permanent. Colossus also gives higher values for objective injuries measured by diagnostic testing than soft tissue injuries. It does give, however, values for muscle spasm (for which Colossus gives particular weight in cases without a defined objective injury), restriction on movement, radiating pain, anxiety, depression, headaches, dizziness, and visual disturbance. Colossus also gives higher value to cases where the patient went to the hospital for initial treatment of the injuries.
Colossus then generates a range of settlement values for that case. The problem with Colossus is the same problem we have in society with all computerized systems: they do not grasp the complexity of human beings. There is no computer program that can ascertain the value of a person's pain and suffering, how an injury really impacted an individual's life. How much is it worth to not be able to pick up your newborn baby without extreme pain? There is no way a computer can answer this question.
This is why your advocates must adequately articulate why your injuries are different or alternatively be prepared to file a lawsuit. When a lawsuit is filed, sometimes the insurance companies do take a second look at a case and give a second look to the real trial value of the case, particularly when they know that the your attorneys handling the case are willing to go to trial.
Will I hurt the person I am suing by bringing a personal injury claim? (FAQ)
This question is often asked by our personal injury clients who deserve compensation for their injuries but are afraid that they will do harm to the person who caused their injuries. We are amazed at how many of our seriously injured clients are still so worried about he people that caused their injuries. The news is good on this front: virtually all personal injury claims are handled by insurance company lawyers and paid by insurance, so the person (or company) will not have to pay any money out of their own pocket.
Do I still have a claim if my medical bills were paid by insurance? (FAQ)
Under the collateral source rule in Maryland, you are entitled to be compensated for your medical bills regardless of whether or not they have been paid by PIP (personal injury protection) or by your health insurance. The same logic holds true for lost wages. If you miss work, you can collect your lost wages even if your company pays you for the missed time. Usually, the larger part of your personal injury claim is compensation for your pain and suffering. For a further explanation of how your medical bills from an accident get paid, click here.
How long will it take for me to receive a financial recovery in my case? (FAQ)
While we would love to be able to give you a definitive answer, there is no definite period of time in which a personal injury case will settle or go to trial. Every case has its own unique facts. What we can promise you is this: we will move your case forward towards settlement or verdict at trial in a manner that avoids unnecessary delays.
If a case settles, in most (but not all) cases we need to wait until the patient has finished receiving medical care and treatment (or reached a point of maximum medical improvement). We then order any remaining medical bills and underlying records from your health care providers. Then we prepare and submit a demand package to the insurance company, letting them know how much you are willing to accept to resolve your claim. We expect a response to our demand letter from the insurance companies. We usually receive an offer in a reasonable time period; if not we recommend filing a lawsuit.
Again, we take great care to diligently pursue your case with vigor to eliminate unnecessary delays in resolving your personal injury case. Your case is our case and we will fight for you to get the highest possible recovery as quickly as possible. Accordingly, we do everything we can do to move your case forward.
What is Assumption of the Risk? (FAQ)
In Maryland, if you have knowingly and voluntarily assumed the risk inherent in a particular action or inaction that causes an accident, you cannot sue the other person for negligence. For example, if you get in a friendâ€™s car for a drag race and suffer personal injuries in an accident, you assumed the risk of those injuries. Defense lawyers in Maryland love to raise the assumption of the risk defense in personal injury cases. But, as a practical matter, the assumption of the risk defense is applicable in very few personal injury cases in Maryland that are not slip and fall cases or recreational sports accident cases. You can learn more here.
Will the insurance company pay in Maryland for personal injury claims made by one spouse to the other? Can my children sue me or my spouse and recover against the insurance company? (FAQ)
In other words, this question asks whether the insurance companies provide coverage when family members bring claims against each other. In Maryland, the answer is the insurance company is required to provide full coverage. Prior to 2004, all insurance carriers in Maryland placed a family exclusion provision in their policies. In Stearman v. State Farm, the Court of Appeals of Maryland upheld the language of these exclusions but did require that the insurance companies provide coverage up the mandatory minimum limits in Maryland ($20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident).
Fortunately, in 2004, the Maryland legislature passed a rule abrogating the language in these policies with respect to claims made against spouses. In 2005, the legislature expanded this law, allowing for claims in Maryland between children and their parents. This new law requires every Maryland insurance company to offer an insured liability coverage for personal injury claims made by family members in the same amount as the liability coverage for claims by a non-family member under the insurance policy. Because insurance companies are prone to try to hide the language offering this coverage, the statute requires Maryland insurance companies to offer this coverage in 10 point bold type font (the text you are reading is in a 10 point font).
In cases where family members do sue each other in an effort to seek compensation for their injuries from the insurance company, it is odd, to say the least, when these cases go to trial because juries are not told in Maryland that there is auto insurance available to cover the personal injury claim. From their vantage point, one loving spouse is suing the other loving spouse, leaving them bewildered as to why this would happen. By the time the jury deliberates, however, usually someone on the jury has figured out that car insurance is covering the claim and shares this knowledge with the other jurors.
I suffered personal injuries in a truck accident. Do you handle big rig truck collision cases? (FAQ)
Yes, we handle tort claims involving truck accidents. Generally speaking, a lawyer faces the same issues when dealing with a truck crash as they do in a car crash. There are some critical additional issues in truck accident cases, however, that counsel needs to be aware of when handling big rig collision cases. Because when counsel assumes that "Hey, a motor vehicle collision case is a motor vehicle collision case" that is usually the first step what ends up being a malpractice claim against that attorney.
There is no rule that says that illegal immigrants cannot collect damages for their losses in a tort case. Most cases involving illegal aliens are the same as any other case. There are, however, some pitfalls to look out for in these cases. You can learn more about these here.Medical Treatment and Bills
Who pays my medical bills and lost wages? (FAQ)
If you have auto insurance and you are in an auto accident, your insurance company will pay your medical bills and a portion of your wages up to a certain point if you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. The amount it pays depends on the coverage you have under your policy. In Maryland, the typical PIP policy provides for $2,500. Your PIP coverage, however, pays only a portion of your wage loss and medical expenses. If you are not at-fault for the accident, the other driver's auto insurance company will also be responsible for the same medical bills or lost wages. In other words, you can essentially collect twice for the same medical bills and lost wages. (If your employer continues to pay you during the time missed, you are essentially collecting your lost wages three times.) Of course, the at-fault driver's insurance company is also responsible for your pain and suffering damages for your personal injuries, which is usually the largest part of the plaintiff's claim.
You may find that your own insurance company will not pay some of your bills. It may also send you a letter telling you that you must be examined by one of their doctors in what they like to call an independent medical examination (IME) before they will continue to pay any more of your medical bills. If that happens, we can help you fight your own insurance company.
If you have health insurance, it serves as a backup insurer. It will pay your medical bills after you have run out of PIP coverage.
Can you recommend a doctor to me to treat me for my injuries? (FAQ)
We can. It is typically our preference that clients seek treatment from their existing health care providers (or request a referral from them). But if you do not have an existing health care provider or your provider requires payment before the resolution of your case, we can provide you with a list of quality health care providers that we know who will not require payment until after the resolution of your case.
What is PIP (personal injury protection) insurance and do I have it? (FAQ)
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is an insurance coverage for medical and other expenses such as lost wages resulting from an auto accident, for people specified in the policy, regardless of who is at fault in the accident. Maryland law does not require PIP coverage on auto policies, but insurance companies are required to offer you the coverage when you buy an auto insurance policy. If you do not want it, you can reject it in writing by executing a waiver. (The Maryland Insurance Code also has exceptions for government-owned vehicles, buses, and taxicabs.)
PIP insurance is very helpful to you if you are injured because it essentially allows you to recover twice for your same medical bills and lost wages (of course, there is a pain and suffering component as well to any personal injury case). For example, assume that you have $2,500 in medical bills and $2,500 in PIP coverage. Your PIP insurance will pay all of your medical bills. Yet you can still collect from the at-fault driver's insurance company for the same medical bills. This is possible in Maryland under the collateral source rule.
Under Maryland's PIP statute (Insurance Code Section 19-505a), there are seven categories of coverage for PIP: the insured, members of the insured's family that reside in his or her household, persons using the vehicle with consent, guests in the insured vehicle, passengers in the vehicle, and injured pedestrians may all be covered by the insured vehicle's PIP coverage.
Maryland law allows insurers to include in their contracts a one-year "statute of limitations" for victims to make a PIP claim. Any claim after the 12-month period, may no qualify for PIP benefits.
What does PIP cover? (FAQ)
PIP covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses for injuries sustained in an auto accident, up to three years from the date of the accident and up to $10,000. PIP also offers income replacement coverage limited to a maximum of $200 per week for one year, after a person has been disabled for 14 days after the accident. Funeral expenses of $2,000 and loss of services (payment to others for work you can't do) of up to $5,000 are also included in the coverage. Payments are made for costs that are actually incurred by the injured person.