You have been involved in an auto accident through no fault of yours. You went to the emergency room. Your car is damaged. Medical bills are piling up. You have missed a week or so from work to treat your injuries. The case looks like a straightforward open and shut situation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. Several considerations drive the likelihood of success including the extent of the injuries, the property damage and plaintiff’s conduct surrounding the incident to mention a few. That said, there are many variables that affect how much the insurance company will offer to settle your case but listed below are 6 important factors that could detrimentally affect your settlement prospect following an auto accident in Maryland:
Negligence vs. Contributory Negligence: More often than not, auto accident victims have a clear-cut case where the defendant’s insurance company has accepted liability. The issue here is two-prong. The first concern happens when the insurance company has accepted that their insured was negligent but offers an amount that is much lower than your estimated fair value of the case based on financial and non-financial considerations (such as medical expenses, lost wages, future lost wages, pain & suffering, etc). The second situation, the insurance similarly accepts that their insured was negligent but also asserts that the victim’s negligence contributed to the accident and/ or damages suffered and therefore should not receive compensation for damages suffered. Unfortunately, Maryland is one of the few states in America that still allows the 'contributory negligence' defense to eliminate 100% liability for injuries suffered regardless of how little your conduct or negligence contributed to your damages. In plain English, you get nothing in Maryland even if you were only 1% at fault while the defendant was 99% at fault.
The venue matters: Generally, certain jurisdictions like Prince George’s County and Baltimore City are typically more jury-friendly for plaintiffs than more rural areas of Maryland like Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties. There is no hard and fast rule but typically, the more urban or densely populated the area, the greater the likelihood for increased jury awards in Maryland.
Property damage to Your Car: Typically, the higher the cost to repair your car, the higher the likelihood that the insurance will agree that accident caused your injury which led to thousands of dollars of medical expenses. That said, there are situations where property damages under $1,000 can lead to injury damages exceeding tens of thousands of dollars. The point is the facts of each case are different and therefore not limited to any settlement formula.
Pre-existing Injuries: If the victim had any pre-existing injuries prior to the auto accident, the insurance company may refuse to settle the case on the grounds that even though their insured was negligent the accident couldn’t have caused the injuries.
Clear Cut Injury: Injuries that are more obvious are less likely to be disputed by the Insurance companies than injuries that are harder to determine or estimate.
Age of the Victim: Generally, the younger the victim, the more valuable a permanent injury case will be while older victims tend to do better in less significant injury cases.
We have handled all sorts of auto accidents that result in injuries and thus have encountered all sorts of excuses given by insurance adjusters to devalue your settlement claim. Generally, most of our cases settle before litigation but we will file a lawsuit on your behalf if a favorable settlement is not reached. Call us for a free consultation.