WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD I SHARE WITH MY PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY?
When you speak to an attorney or their paralegal, you should be prepared to describe how your accident occurred. The attorney will want to know the general time, location, and the direction each vehicle was traveling at the time of the accident. The attorney also likely be interested in any witness information and whether you sought medical treatment. You will also be asked about your health insurance or auto policy insurance information. Your attorney may inquire about your prior claims history, any prior injuries you may have and the reasons for any interruptions in your medical treatment. Your attorney’s office should also be made aware of your job duties and any wages you may have lost due to the accident.
It is important to update your attorney with names of any additional medical providers you have treated with or have been referred to. You should also periodically share how your treatment is progressing and how your injuries have impacted your daily life. Cases have the best outcomes when both the client and the attorney have an ongoing working partnership from the beginning to the end of the case.
How Will My Personal Injury Case Be Affected If I Was Partially At Fault For The Accident That Caused My Injuries?
In Maryland if you have any responsibility for how the accident occurred you will not be able to pursue a claim. This is referred to as contributory negligence and it is a unique rule because in most other states you would be able to recover if you were partially at fault. Here in Maryland even if you are just one percent or a fraction of a percent at fault you get nothing. It’s a harsh rule, but it’s the law. Oftentimes the question of contributory negligence is the main issue argued in negotiations or at trial.
Will The Insurance Company Have Access To My Past Medical History And Treatments? Will Any Prior Injuries Or Illnesses Impact My Current Case?
You should never speak to an insurance company adjuster before hiring an attorney. If you do the adjuster will likely request that you sign a document which will authorize them to obtain your medical records. You should never sign this document because it will allow them to obtain information that is totally unrelated and that they have no business knowing. Keep in mind that the sole purpose of the insurance company is to lessen the value of your claim. You should hire an attorney who will obtain your medical records and provide the insurance company with only relevant documents.
Also be aware that any statements you make to medical providers during treatment will likely be transcribed into the medical records. This includes statements pertaining to a different accident or statements that could be construed as minimizing your pain. If you made prior claims the insurance company likely already have access to this information because insurance companies maintain a shared database that permits them to exchange information.
The insurance company will attempt to use your prior history in order to decrease the value of your claim. If they discover that you had a prior injury or accident they will argue that you cannot distinguish the pain from the prior injury and the pain caused by the current accident. Your attorney will likely argue that your prior injury was completely healed before the recent accident or that the pain was manageable until it was made much worse by the current accident. My firm will never disclose prior medical information unless we deem it relevant without discussing it with our client first.
Can I Recover Financially For My Injuries If I Was Hit By An Uninsured Or Underinsured Driver In Maryland?
Many people mistakenly believe that their auto insurance only covers the damages or bodily injury they cause to others.
In fact, your own insurance will cover your own damages if you are ever hit by an unknown driver, a driver without insurance; or a driver without enough insurance. This referred to as uninsured (un-insured) and underinsured (under-insured) motorist insurance. All auto insurance policies in Maryland have this coverage.
Uninsured coverage is especially important here in Maryland because we have an extremely high percentage of uninsured drivers and accidents involving stolen vehicles. When the at-fault driver is uninsured or unknown, your own insurance company will operate as though they are the insurance company for the other driver and the claim will proceed as such.
Underinsured motorist coverage will protect you in a situation where you get hit by an at-fault driver who does have auto insurance, but the amount of their policy isn’t enough to compensate you for your damages. For this coverage to kick in you would need to have a policy that is greater than that of the at-fault driver.
To explain, let’s imagine you get hit by someone who carries only the current Maryland minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury. Let’s further imagine in that scenario that you have purchased an underinsured policy of $100,000 on your own insurance and that you believe the value of your bodily injury claim against an at-fault driver is $100,000. In this instance, you would take the full amount of the policy of the at-fault driver ($30,000) then you would negotiate the excess amount of your settlement claim against your own policy (up to $70,000). Your own insurance policy picks up the excess amount of the negotiated or court-determined value of the claim. Based on our example you can see why it is important to purchase the greatest amount of underinsured coverage that you can afford. (Keep in mind that you will be able to receive more than the excess amount if you purchase enhanced uninsured motorist (EUIM) coverage.)
For more information on Sharing Information With Your PI Attorney, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (443) 499-2919 today.
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