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Car Accident FAQ

Answers You Can Trust

Where can you find accurate information about your car accident? It's much harder than you think. There's a lot of information out there. But it's not always clear who you can trust and where to turn. That's why we created this page devoted to some of the most frequently asked questions about car accidents and the actions a victim should take. For many years, accident victims have trusted the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC to help them get their lives back on track. Find out how we can help you. Contact Stuart L. Plotnick and schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced auto accident lawyer.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

What are common causes of car accidents?

Car accidents happen for many different reasons. Some of the most common causes include:

There are many other reasons. But even when the cause seems similar, it's important to remember that every single accident is unique. That's why it's critical that you talk to an experienced Rockville auto accident attorney about your crash as soon as possible.

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Should I call the police if another driver crashes into my car?

Yes. It's very important that you have a police officer respond to your accident. That way, there will hopefully be no questions later about exactly what happened. The investigating police officer will also create an official Maryland motor vehicle accident report, which insurance companies often refer to when deciding if or how to compensate accident victims. But, be advised in various instances the police may not respond due to the fact they don't believe the accident is serious enough to spend time with. So, be sure to document the scene and accident with photographs.  Your cell phone can be a great tool.

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Should I request an ambulance after my car accident if I feel fine?

Yes. Don't try to diagnose yourself. First, it depends upon how you are feeling and the level of injuries you have sustained. You could have a severe internal injury and not even realize it, or in some cases pain and injuries may take a day or two before they show up. If you have any doubt, it's important to have a medical professional examine you after your crash. Otherwise, your health could be at risk.

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I don't have any obvious injuries. Should I still see a doctor?

Yes. Certain types of injuries - such as whiplash or a brain injury - might not show any symptoms immediately after your car accident. You should be examined by a medical professional as soon as possible to document your condition and make sure you are okay. If you decide to pursue a personal injury claim later, you will need this documentation to prove that your injuries were directly related to the car accident.

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How can I pay for medical care? What are my options?

Ultimately, the person responsible for your accident (or more precisely, their insurance company) is responsible for paying your medical bills, but they will not be paying you or your loved ones anything until your treatment is completed and the full extent of your bills and losses are known. This does not help you when you need treatment right away. If you have personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments coverage (MedPay) on your car insurance policy, that may pay for some of your medical expenses, but these sources have low limits. If not, you can go through your provided health insurance, although some health insurance companies are reluctant to pay for injuries sustained in an auto or other accident.

If you don't have applicable insurance, or if you're having trouble dealing with your insurance company, an experienced attorney can make a big difference. We can work with your insurance carrier to make sure you get the coverage you are owed for your medical expenses, and in many cases, we can work with your doctors and providers to enter into a "treat now, pay later" arrangement, called an attorney's medical lien or Authorization and Assignment (A&A). Depending on the circumstances, there may be other ways we can help as well. That's one reason you should contact us as soon as possible.

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What should I do if I'm a victim of a hit-and-run accident?

We strongly urge you to take the following steps if you're a victim of a hit-and-run accident:

  • Call the police and ask them to respond. Leaving the scene of a car accident is a crime.
  • Don't follow or chase the vehicle down. You could put yourself in danger.
  • Talk to witnesses. If someone saw something, get a statement from them, as well as their full name, address and phone number.
  • Contact our law firm. We can aggressively investigate your accident.

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Should I call my insurance company after my car accident?

Yes. However, keep your comments to a minimum. Anything you say could be used against you to reduce or deny your accident claim. Even though your insurance company ostensibly represents your best interests, it may end up working against you in certain circumstances.  That's why it's always wise to not say too much when you contact your insurance company after your crash particularly if it may cause it to question your claim. Notify it of the accident and then contact us before you give details or a full blown, recorded statement. We will deal directly with your insurance company on your behalf. Attorney Plotnick used to work as a lawyer for the insurance companies. That's why he knows how they think and how to get results.

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Should I answer any questions insurance companies ask after my car accident?

No. If someone from the other driver's insurance company contacts you after your accident, politely tell them that you have hired an attorney and ask them to contact us for more information. The only thing you should discuss is the arrangements for getting your car fixed or paid for. Do not provide a recorded statement. We strongly advise people to take this approach since our law firm has decades of experience dealing with insurance companies. We know all the tricks that insurance companies play and what strategies work best.  Remember, they are trying to get information to help them, not you.

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Should I accept a settlement offer from the other driver's insurance company?

No. Do not accept any settlement from the other driver's insurance company until you have consulted with an experienced car accident attorney. In most cases, the settlement they offer will be much less than the true value of your injury claim, and keep in mind it may takes weeks or months until you know the full extent of your injuries. Insurance companies know that accident victims are in a tough situation, especially if you are missing time from work and have medical bills that need to be paid. The company is hoping you will accept less than you deserve so they can resolve your claim with minimal impact to their own bottom line.

Simply having an attorney on your side can help immensely when negotiating with insurance companies; once they know you have legal representation, they tend to take your claim more seriously in order to avoid the cost of a trial.

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What should I do if an insurance company acts in bad faith after my car accident?

Insurance company bad faith refers to when your insurance company doesn't act in your best interests and intentionally refuses to accept your claim when it knows that your claim is valid. When this occurs, it's important to take strong legal action as soon as possible. That's why we want to meet with you if you believe an insurance company is trying to avoid paying you the money you rightfully deserve. We know what strategies work and how to hold such corporations responsible.

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Can I negotiate for more money after my car accident?

Yes. This is something insurance companies don't want people to know. If an insurance company makes you a settlement offer after your accident, you have the right to ask them for more money. And since expenses can add up fast after an accident, we strongly encourage you to demand the maximum compensation for medical expenses, lost income and more. Again, in many instances, an accident victim is not going to know the full extent of injuries and losses for weeks and months. There is no need to rush because you will very likely sell yourself short. Also, the first offer is never the best offer. It's a negotiation. The best way to fight for maximum compensation is to retain an experienced attorney who can review your case and make sure every possible avenue of compensation is explored.

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How much is my car accident worth?

There is no set dollar amount for car accidents, and nobody can predict the future, particularly without all the facts about your injuries which may take weeks or months to play out. Each case  is different. Some claims are worth a few hundred or few thousand dollars. Others can potentially be worth millions of dollars. The amount can vary depending on the circumstances of your accident and in particular the severity of the injury. Did you or a loved one sustain a permanent injury? Are you unable to work for several weeks, months or perhaps ever again? All of these issues need to be factored in when determining the value of your auto accident. Our law firm does not take a one size fits all approach because we know all cases and clients are different. If any lawyer claims that he knows the value of the case before having all the facts, he is doing you a disservice.

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What damages can I recover compensation for in a car accident case?

Victims of car accidents can recover damages (financial compensation) for injuries and related expenses by proving negligence of another person in a personal injury action. The law does not provide an avenue for compensation when the accident was your own fault.

If you can establish the fault of the other driver, you may be entitled to recover:

  • Current and future medical expenses, including costs of exams, treatment, rehabilitation or physical therapy
  • Lost income
  • Loss of ability to work in the future
  • Loss of ability to perform basic daily living to other activities (e.g. hobbies, sports) that you have participated in the past
  • Physical and emotional pain and suffering: past, present and future
  • Property damage expenses, including car repair, replacement and car rental
  • Disability, including temporary, partial and permanent
  • Mental anguish such as emotional distress or psychological problems (PTSD) caused by the accident

If the driver was drunk or particularly reckless, you may also be able to seek punitive damages (also known as "exemplary damages"), which are designed to punish or make an example of the defendant and discourage others from engaging in the same dangerous behavior.

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Should I file a lawsuit after an car accident?

Sometimes. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, a lawsuit might be the most effective way to obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve after your accident. However, every accident is different. That's why it's important to carefully review all the legal options available to you before deciding which approach to take after your crash. We can help you review all your options, then work with you to help you obtain the money you rightfully deserve after your accident.

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What are my legal rights for compensation after a car accident?

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries because of a car accident, you can pursue a personal injury case to recover compensation for your injuries. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, you can file a wrongful death case to pursue compensation for your loss.

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What's important in a car accident investigation?

Car accident investigations are extremely important to your personal injury case. When you've been in an auto accident that caused significant injuries, one of the most important things you can do on your own behalf is speak with car accident attorney Stuart L. Plotnick. However, it's important you do this quickly.

Delaying conversation with an attorney is unwise and counter-productive and can lead to failure to obtain key pieces of evidence (photos, witness information), which might end up costing you the justice and compensation to which you are entitled.

At the most basic level, your success is about facts and evidence. It's about presenting a case and having the facts to back up what you're saying. And the only way to reliably acquire the needed facts is to launch an effective, professional, and thorough investigation. We know what to look for!

In the case of a car accident or any wreck involving a motor vehicle, this means swiftly moving to gather all relevant evidence that will shed light on the reality of your accident. Our auto accident and legal team will:

  • Closely examine all physical evidence, damage to the vehicles, photos of the scene, including skid marks on the road, damage to surrounding property and scenery and vehicular damage.  Photos on the injuries at the time are so important because these will heal and become much harder to explain to the insurance company or the jury.
  • Speak to all relevant witnesses in a thorough and professional manner. We'll get their views of what happened and determine their credibility.
  • Perform an extensive review of all documentation and records generated as a result of your accident. This includes police reports, medical records, photos, and insurance documents. The paper trail can prove crucial to constructing a coherent, accurate narrative of the case.

The crucial thing to understand is that all of these tasks are much easier and effective when they are completed right away.

Physical evidence degrades and disappears, cars get repaired, bruises heal, and in the case of truck accidents, information is often lost when vital GPS data is scrubbed. And human memory is both fallible and short-lived; recollections warp and fade over time.

Take the example of an accident that involved your car colliding with a guard rail. The damaged guard rail could prove crucial for establishing the angle and velocity of the collision. However, that guard rail will eventually be replaced, and important evidence lost.

Speaking with our Montgomery County car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident is in your best interests. You lose nothing by telling your story at a free, no-obligation initial consultation.

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What am I entitled to in a wrongful death case?

Wrongful death actions are a way to pursue compensation for your loss if you have lost an immediate family member. Some states will allow you to file a wrongful death claim if you were financially dependent on the deceased person but not directly related to them.

In wrongful death cases, you must prove that the death was caused by the negligence of the other driver. You may be able to recover damages for:

  • End-of-life expenses including medical and funeral costs
  • Loss of future income
  • Loss of benefits
  • Additional damages such as injury to the family relationships.
  • Loss of companionship with the deceased
  • Actual financial losses if you were dependent on the deceased
  • Mental or emotional pain and suffering as a result of your loss and grief
  • Survival Claim: If your loved one survived for any period of time after the accident, a claim may also be brought for their pain, suffering, and fear or distress before they passed. This is known as a survival claim and is brought by the victim's estate.

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How can a lawyer help me with my car accident?

The legal system can be confusing and daunting for people who have never been in an accident before. And if you have been injured before in a crash, you know how important it is to have the right lawyer on your side, protecting your rights.

When you have our firm working for you, you decide what happens next with a skilled professional advising you. As your lawyer, we work with you to help you obtain the compensation you deserve and get your life back on track. Our approach often includes:

  • Carefully reviewing your car accident report.
  • Visiting the accident scene and conducting our own independent investigation.
  • Consulting with accident reconstruction experts.
  • Tracking down witnesses who saw your crash.
  • Dealing directly with insurance companies on your behalf.
  • Filing a lawsuit if necessary.
  • Preparing your case for trial.
  • Appearing with you in court.
  • Appealing your case if necessary.

We leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of justice. Find out how we can help you. Contact us and schedule your free case evaluation right now.

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Why should I choose Stuart L. Plotnick to represent my car accident case?

Maryland car accident attorney Stuart L. Plotnick spent over a decade working on the "other side" of car accident cases - as lead attorney for insurance companies. This experience has given him unique insight into the legal strategies and techniques that insurance companies use against accident victims to deny or downplay valid claims.

When you hire Mr. Plotnick to represent you, you can rest assured that he will build the most powerful case possible on your behalf.

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