Jill Kolodner | March 23, 2022 | Car Accidents
In an average year, Maryland sees about 113,000 traffic accidents. But the severity of these accidents varies widely.
These crashes cause about 540 fatalities and over 47,500 injuries. But about 80,000 of these accidents will only cause property damage. This raises the question — when do you need to hire a lawyer after a car accident?
Here are some ways to determine whether you should hire a lawyer after a minor Baltimore car accident.
What Is a Minor Car Accident?
Maryland law has no definition for “minor car accident.” Instead, the law enforcement agencies distinguish between property damage-only accidents, injury accidents, and fatal accidents in reporting traffic accidents.
When an accident only damages property and your car remains driveable, you do not even need to report the accident to the Maryland DMV.
So rather than lumping all “minor” car accidents together, it is more helpful to consider whether the car accident caused injuries and the extent of the property damage involved.
Hiring a Lawyer After a Baltimore Car Accident with No Apparent Injuries
You should consider hiring a lawyer after a Baltimore car accident with no apparent injuries for a few reasons, including:
Delayed or Hidden Injuries
Some injuries take time to become apparent. For example, concussion symptoms can take days or longer to appear. This happens because concussion symptoms result from inflammation and swelling in the brain and this takes time.
Similarly, you might have hidden injuries that you might not automatically associate with your accident.
A spinal cord injury can cause:
- Digestive problems
- Sexual dysfunction
However, you might not automatically connect those issues to your accident.
Hiring a lawyer, even if you do not have any apparent injuries, can start you on the process of documenting your case. A lawyer will often have suggestions for injuries you can look for after a car accident.
Mental or Emotional Injuries
You can get injury compensation for mental and emotional injuries. Whether you experience depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder after an accident, you can hire a lawyer and seek compensation from the at-fault driver.
This compensation can cover your medical expenses associated with your emotional or mental injuries. It can also cover the income you lost due to missing work for your injuries.
But most importantly, you can seek compensation for the diminishment in your quality of life due to your injuries. Since mental and emotional injuries can lead to cognitive, emotional, and even physical symptoms, you could seek substantial damages for mental or emotional injuries.
Hiring a Lawyer After a Baltimore Car Accident with Minor Injuries
If you suffered minor injuries in a car accident, you should consult a lawyer. Since Maryland uses an at-fault auto insurance system, you will need to pursue the at-fault driver and their insurer to recover injury compensation.
Even minor injuries will require you to pay out-of-pocket for medical treatment, therapy, and drugs. Maryland has some of the least expensive emergency rooms in the U.S., yet the average cost of an emergency room visit in Maryland still tops $600.
Unfortunately, injuries can worsen over time. A sore knee might have torn cartilage. A headache might indicate a concussion. A sore back may evolve into a spinal cord injury as your discs degenerate.
Other situations in which you should speak to a lawyer after a minor accident include:
A Lack of Health Coverage
After an accident, your health insurance coverage becomes critical. Health insurance can help you get the treatment you need immediately.
But many people do not have health insurance or have bad policies. If you do not have health insurance to cover your medical bills, you should consider hiring a lawyer to help you get compensation from the at-fault driver.
An Accident with an Uninsured Driver
If the at-fault driver lacks auto insurance, you are put into a difficult position. You cannot file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. But you still have bills to pay.
If the at-fault driver lacked insurance, you could still file a lawsuit. If you win, you collect on your judgment by attaching the at-fault driver’s assets. You can go after the at-fault driver’s property, bank accounts, and paychecks to get the money owed to you.
Hiring a Lawyer After Property Damage-Only Car Accidents
If you only suffered property damage in the accident, you will deal with your insurer and the at-fault party’s insurer to get compensation. You might need a lawyer, but you will not necessarily hire an injury lawyer. Instead, you will hire a lawyer that handles insurance disputes and general litigation.
You can file a claim with your insurer if you have collision coverage in your auto policy. You will need to pay a deductible. But your insurer should cover the costs to repair or replace your vehicle up to your policy limits.
You can also file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. Maryland requires all vehicle owners to carry at least $15,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage. This means the at-fault driver’s insurance should cover at least $15,000 of your repair or replacement expenses.
Auto insurers have a financial incentive to deny and reduce claims. The less they pay in claims, the more profit they make. As a result, an insurer might deny your claim even though you think it should pay.
A lawyer understands how insurers handle claims. More importantly, a lawyer knows how to document a claim to increase your chances of getting paid.
Consulting a Lawyer After a Minor Baltimore Car Accident
Most injury lawyers offer a free consultation to new clients. Use these consultations to speak to a few lawyers. The lawyer can help you evaluate your claim. Based on this analysis, you can decide whether to hire a lawyer to help you.