Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim in Maryland
The unfortunate part about personal injury claims and navigating them is that you never get to plan in advance. Because nobody anticipates being involved in a car accident, slip and fall, or other personal injury situation, you are forced to deal with it in real-time with no planning or preparation.
Things to Consider
Navigating a personal injury claim can be complicated and confusing and involves many questions and a high degree of uncertainty. For example:
- How long will the process take?
- Do I have a specific period of time in which I have to file my claim or lawsuit?
- Will I have to go to Court?
- Do I need an attorney?
- What specific damages and compensation am I entitled to?
Personal Injury Claims Process
What follows below is a very brief and generic description of the personal injury claims process. It bears repeating, but no two cases are the same and each case should be handled on its own merits and individually, something we at Dubo Law pride ourselves on.
The steps a personal injury claim will take will vary greatly depending on the jurisdiction in which the injury occurred, the type of claim, and the unique characteristics of the case. However, the steps below represent the general process involved in settling such a claim.
The first and most important step of pursuing a personal injury claim is selecting the right attorney to handle the claim. There are people who decide to handle it themselves preferring not to incur the cost and expense of paying an attorney.
That is almost always a mistake. Insurance companies love nothing more than people pursuing their own claims without the help of a skilled and experienced attorney. And you should never, ever do what is in the best interests of the insurance company.
Having an attorney represent you gives you the peace of mind to know that your claim is being handled correctly while at the same time being able to focus on your health and recovery. It is always a good idea to speak to at least 2-3 attorneys before you select one. It should be someone you are comfortable with and who you trust to operate in your best interest and not theirs.
The lawyers you interview will almost certainly ask you questions about your case (if they don’t, you should probably look elsewhere!), but do not be afraid to ask them questions as well.
For example, what is your fee structure? What types of cases do you normally handle? What is your experience and what are your qualifications? How do you see my case progressing? It is likely you will be working with this attorney for a long time and it is critical that you make as well-informed a decision as you can.
What distinguishes us from other personal injury law firms in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and throughout Maryland is that we will be completely transparent about whether we are the right law firm for you. Our goal is to ensure that the client comes first and that their interests trumps all else. If that means somebody else is the best option, so be it.
Our clients and prospective clients appreciate the candid and honest advice we provide which in turn makes them feel more confident in the belief that we are truly working for their interests above all else.
After you have selected your attorney, that attorney will file an insurance claim on your behalf with the insurance company for the at-fault driver. Not only is the insurance company aware that a claim is being pursued, but they also know that you are represented and that any and all future communications should be with the attorney’s office.
That helps release some of the additional burden and stress so you can focus on your recovery. The attorney will also file claims with your own insurance company, if necessary, to ensure you receive your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits and also if you need to pursue a claim for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM).
Immediately upon undertaking the representation, the attorney should begin the process of investigating the facts of the case and collecting any relevant evidence. That includes, but is not limited to, police reports, witness information, video footage, hospital, and other medical treatment records. This process can be crucial to ensuring a beneficial outcome for your case.
After you are done with your medical treatment, the attorney will collect any and all medical records and bills and submit them to the insurance company as part of a settlement packet. This provides the insurance company with an opportunity to evaluate them for purposes of trying to get the case resolved by way of settlement negotiations.
It is important to understand that, at Dubo Law, this part of the process involves the active participation of the client. As we frequently explain to clients, this is their case, not ours. Our job is to evaluate the case, provide our insight, expertise and judgment to the client to enable to make an informed decision with regard to settlement. We never make settlement decisions simply because they are not ours to make – they belong to you.
Settlement discussions normally involve some “back and forth” between the attorney and the adjuster, but the hope is that a fair resolution can be reached that will fully compensate our clients for their injuries. This, however, is another area where attorney selection is critically important. If an insurance company is not willing to make a fair offer, we will ALWAYS recommend that our clients file a lawsuit to pursue their case in Court.
It is our belief and judgment that filing suit more often results in better outcomes for our clients in the short, medium, and long term.
In the event the case does not settle, a lawsuit would be filed on your behalf. Where it would be filed would depend on the specifics of your case. It is also imperative that the lawsuit be filed in a timely fashion to ensure it is compliant with all legal deadlines, including the applicable statute of limitations.
At Dubo Law, we account for multiple factors to determine where your lawsuit should be filed. Our experience enables us to determine the best venue and our knowledge of the law allows us to determine the best available jurisdiction permitted by Maryland’s venue statute. In addition, we also have experience litigating cases in both District Court and Circuit Court and know the factors to evaluate in determining which Court is best for your case.
Once the lawsuit has been filed, the parties will engage in “discovery” which enables the lawyers to learn as much as possible about the other side’s position. Discovery is frequently done in writing through interrogatories and requests for the production of documents, but in Circuit Court cases, also includes depositions and independent medical evaluations by expert witnesses.
The purpose of discovery and the litigation process is to ensure that there are no surprises at trial and that everyone has done their homework and due diligence in advance.
It is important to note that settlement discussions can and do take place during the litigation phase and many cases in fact settle between the filing of the lawsuit and going to trial. So you should not think that simply because you are filing a lawsuit, it is a foregone conclusion that you will end up going to trial.
In fact, filing the lawsuit and having an attorney who conducts thorough discovery, often places you in the position of getting a better settlement offer which results in more money in your pocket.
However, if no settlement is reached, the case will eventually end up going to trial. Again, it is important to select an attorney with a track record of success in the courtroom.
Neil Dubovsky has been rated as a SuperLawyer in Maryland. In addition, he has also been ranked as one of the Top 100 Civil Trial Lawyers in the State of Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association. This experience and proven track record are invaluable in obtaining a beneficial outcome at trial.
Depending on whether your case is in the District Court or the Circuit Court, the trial could last anywhere from an hour to multiple weeks. In District Court your case gets presented to a Judge for resolution; in Circuit Court, the case will be presented to a jury.
The process though is fairly similar. Each side has the opportunity to make an opening statement after which the Plaintiff (which would be you) presents evidence in support of his or her case.
That evidence can be in the form of documents (such as medical records) or witness testimony – including the testimony of the Plaintiff. In fact, most cases involve both of these forms of evidence. Each witness called by the Plaintiff will be subject to cross-examination by the other attorney.
Following the Plaintiff’s case, the defense will then be provided an opportunity to present its case, which can also include documents and witnesses. As with the Plaintiff’s case, each witness called by the defense is also subject to cross-examination.
After both sides have presented their cases (including potential rebuttal evidence from the Plaintiff), the attorneys make their closing arguments and then the case is presented to the Judge or jury for resolution.
The Judge or jury will then award the Plaintiff an amount in damages they deem to be fair and reasonable. That amount will frequently include damages for physical injuries, lost wages and pain and suffering.
As is clear from the above, there are multiple steps involved in handling a personal injury claim and many of them are complex and overwhelming. That is why it is critically important that you retain the services of a top-rated personal injury attorney. This will help maximize the chances of a favorable outcome for you to ensure that you are compensated for your injuries and emotional distress.
So if you were involved in an accident, slip and fall, or other personal injury claims in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, or anywhere in the State of Maryland, please call us today at 443-275-6345 and let us fight for you!
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