Admitting fault for a car accident could result in the denial of your car accident claim. Even being partially at fault for the cause of the car crash means you cannot recover any compensation for damages under Maryland’s contributory negligence rules.
Never admit fault for car accidents. Instead, talk with a Baltimore car accident lawyer before speaking to the insurance company or claims adjuster. An attorney can help you if you are being blamed for an accident.
Insurance Companies Search for Any Reason to Deny Your Personal Injury Claim
Under Maryland’s personal injury laws, accident victims may recover compensation for damages when the other driver caused the car crash. The accident victim could be entitled to compensation for their economic damages, such as lost wages, medical bills, property damage, and out-of-pocket expenses.
The accident victim may also receive compensation for their non-economic damages or “pain and suffering” damages. These damages include permanent impairments, emotional distress, diminished quality of life, and physical pain.
However, an admission of fault after a car accident can result in losing your right to recover compensation. Even if you file a personal injury lawsuit, the other driver may claim contributory negligence as a complete defense.
What is Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Law?
Contributory negligence was eliminated in most jurisdictions. However, the District of Columbia and four other states still use contributory negligence, including Maryland.
Under contributory negligence, an accident victim is barred from recovering compensation for damages if the victim has any responsibility for the cause of the accident. For example, the other driver could be 99% at fault, but the victim’s 1% of fault still bars them from receiving compensation for damages.
Maryland’s harsh contributory negligence law gives insurance companies a way to fight car accident claims. If the company can convince the jurors that the plaintiff was just slightly at fault for the cause of the crash, the insurance company avoids paying anything for damages.
Other states use comparative negligence to determine damages in car accident cases. Under comparative negligence, the accident victim’s compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault. Some states set a bar of 50 or 51% fault for recovering compensation.
You Might Not Be Responsible for Causing the Car Accident
It is crucial that accident victims do not admit fault after a car accident in Maryland. The shock of a car crash can cloud a victim’s memory. In addition, they may be confused and disoriented after a car accident.
Furthermore, car accidents are rarely simple. Many factors could contribute to the cause of a car wreck. Until a thorough investigation is completed, it might be impossible to tell who is responsible for causing the car crash.
Factors that could contribute to the cause of a car accident include, but are not limited to:
- Weather conditions
- Defective car parts
- The actions of other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists
- Poorly designed roads and intersections
- Adverse road conditions
- Traffic conditions
The police officer may conclude that one or both drivers contributed to the cause of the accident. However, accident investigations by police officers are rarely thorough.
A car accident attorney conducts an independent accident investigation. Depending on the circumstances, the attorney may retain experts to assist with the investigation, including engineers, accident reconstructionists, trucking experts, and accident investigators.
A thorough investigation is the only way to determine who contributed to the cause of a car accident.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company After a Car Accident in Maryland?
Talking to an insurance company without an attorney is generally not in your best interest.
The claims adjuster may pressure you to make a recorded statement or provide a written statement. However, the purpose of the statement is to lock you into a narrative that could be used against you. Therefore, it is not in your best interest to agree to a written or recorded statement.
Even talking with a claims adjuster can be risky. Most insurance companies record telephone calls.
Adjusters are trained to ask leading questions. Innocent statements could be used to accuse you of contributing to the cause of the car crash.
Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself After a Baltimore Car Accident
Because of Maryland’s harsh contributory negligence rules, the steps you take after a car accident are critical to your personal injury case. Making mistakes could hurt your chance of recovering compensation from the driver who caused the crash.
Steps to take after a car accident in Maryland include:
Report the Accident to the Police
Call 911 to report the car crash and request assistance. Maryland law requires drivers to remain at the scene of an accident.
Do not apologize for the accident, including saying you are “sorry” about the accident. Saying you are “sorry” could be viewed as admitting fault. It is best not to discuss the accident with anyone other than the police officer.
When answering the police officer’s questions, be honest. However, do not volunteer information or exaggerate. Instead, provide concise, straightforward answers without admitting fault.
Document the Accident Scene
If possible, take photographs of the accident scene and make a video of the entire area. Include pictures of the vehicles. Note the presence of any video cameras, including nearby surveillance cameras or traffic cameras.
Ask any eyewitnesses or bystanders for their names and contact information. Eyewitness testimony could help you prove you did not cause the crash.
Seek Medical Treatment for Injuries
Prompt medical treatment improves your chance of recovering compensation for injuries. Accident victims have the burden of proving that the car accident caused their injuries.
Delays in medical care could result in allegations that the accident did not cause your injury or you failed to mitigate damages.
Report the Car Accident to Your Insurance Company
You are required to report the car crash to your liability insurance provider. However, avoid making statements or answering questions about the cause of the car accident until you talk with an attorney.
Refrain From Posting on Social Media
Stay offline after a car accident. Statements and posts online could be used against you in court. Your attorney can provide additional guidance about avoiding problems with online content after a car accident.
Seek Legal Advice
Contact a Baltimore car accident lawyer to discuss your case as soon as possible. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the less chance you will make a costly mistake.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation With an Experienced Baltimore Car Accident Lawyer
Do you have questions about a car accident claim? Call our law firm to discuss your car accident case with an attorney. Your initial consultation with a car accident attorney in Baltimore is free of charge.