When you’re involved in a car accident in Maryland or otherwise sustain an injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is understandable that your initial focus is on something other than hiring a lawyer to represent you.
First and foremost, you are concerned with your own health and well-being which can often involve a trip (or two) to the emergency room. And then, in addition to that, it is possible if not likely that you end up missing time from work which not only increases work-related stress, but also tends to put an additional strain on your family, both personally and economically.
It is not unusual for people to wait weeks, months, and in some cases even years to finally “get around” to retaining a personal injury lawyer to handle their case. While the phrase “better late than never” is certainly true, there are a number of reasons why it is critically important to hire a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following your car crash or injury.
First, an attorney can help you with your property damage claim, which is almost always an immediate need. Dealing with those claims can be both stressful and difficult, especially for people who are not skilled at dealing with insurance companies designed to take advantage of unrepresented individuals.
In addition, an attorney can help ensure that any necessary evidence can be obtained immediately and preserved for future negotiations with the insurance company or if the case has to go to trial. Even if you forget or are unable to take photos of the vehicles at an accident scene, involving an attorney early in the process can remedy that situation.
Normally cars damaged in accidents are not deemed a total loss or repaired immediately after the accident. But if an injured person waits weeks or months to hire an attorney, it is possible if not likely that the opportunity to preserve accident photos may have been lost.
The same principle applies to potential witnesses. The closer in time to the accident the witness is contacted, the fresher their memory is likely to be which can be hugely beneficial to obtaining a favorable outcome in a case.
This is also true for potential video footage of an accident. In today’s world, many governmental and business entities have external cameras that capture video evidence of accidents. However, they may not even know that they have it unless and until they are asked for it, which means that unless a specific request is made for that evidence, it is unlikely to be preserved.
I personally have settled claims and won cases in the courtroom based on video evidence obtained from private businesses, local government entities, privately owned dashcams and once even from a video owned and operated by BWI Airport. Requesting this footage can be crucial and since they can sometimes only be preserved for 30 days before being deleted, time is of the essence.
Finally, every personal injury case involves deadlines of some kind that begin to run as soon as the accident happens.
Obviously the main one is the statute of limitations, which is three (3) years for most claims in Maryland. But separate and apart from that, there are other deadlines as well. If you were in a car accident and are entitled to PIP benefits, under Maryland law, you only have one (1) year from the date of the accident to apply for those benefits or you run the risk of losing them.
Additionally, some claims entitle the injured party to Medpay benefits (benefits which can be used to help pay some of your medical bills), but those claims are frequently also subject to a deadline which can sometimes be as short as six (6) months.
Other deadlines may apply to your case as well, from tort claims act deadlines (which would apply if you were injured as a result of negligence by a governmental entity) to claims with Maryland’s Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund (“UCJ”) which may apply in situations where a party in injured in an automobile accident and there is no insurance coverage available.
In Maryland, you have one (1) year from the date of the accident to place a governmental entity on notice of a potential claim. With regard to any UCJ claim, you only have six (6) months. The failure to provide notice within the required period of time could result in your claim being lost.
All of these deadlines can be confusing and complicated and the failure to address them correctly could be significantly detrimental to your case. So even you are dealing with the understandable stresses of being involved in an accident, please do not delay retaining the services of a skilled and experienced personal injury law firm. The outcome of your case, and your ability to be fully compensated for your personal injuries, lost wages and pain and suffering may well depend on it.
Call Dubo Law today at (443) 275-6345 if you are an injury victim in need of legal advice for your personal injury claim and let us fight for you.