Baltimore Car Accidents Lawyers
Car wrecks happen every day in Baltimore, as the city is congested and serves as a thoroughfare for those traveling the Eastern Seaboard. Although accidents cannot be avoided in all situations, drivers should take great care when driving through the city, given its unique weather patterns, layout, and traffic.
Those involved in a car wreck are urged to reach out to a Baltimore car accident lawyer after the accident. Victims need compensation to help them move on, and families who lose relatives should file suit for wrongful death. Although this is a trying time in anyone’s life, a lawyer will help resolve all the issues that arise after a car wreck.
Why Do So Many Car Accidents Occur in Baltimore?
Research has shown time and again that Baltimore is one of the most dangerous cities in which to drive. One such study named Baltimore as the third-most dangerous city in the United States for drivers. At a rate of 4.7 fatal accidents for every 100,000 residents, Baltimore should bring out the safe driver in everyone.
Given that the Baltimore metropolitan area is home to about three million people, that comes to approximately 140 fatal accidents every year. Interstates 95, 97, 695, 195, 895, 83, and 70 all add to the traffic entering the city every day. Clogged surface streets, unpredictable weather conditions, pedestrians, and public transit vehicles make the roads that much more difficult to navigate.
As drivers pass through the city, they must slow down as they enter the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, enter or exit a highway, or drive through the center of the city. Because the city was founded in 1729, it was not built to accommodate cars and trucks. Narrow streets throughout the city require drivers to slow down and stay in their lanes. Rush hour traffic simply makes these conditions more treacherous for everyone.
As drivers enter the city, ice and snow in the winter or heavy rain in the spring and summer can make the roads slippery. Because the roads are narrow and congested, a sliding car has nowhere to go. Multi-vehicle accidents are common, and traffic jams only worsen with an increase in accidents.
What is the Cost of Car Accidents in Baltimore?
Car accidents in Maryland cost a total of $758 million in 2018. Given that Baltimore is the largest city in the state, it stands to reason that the majority of car accident damages in Maryland occur in the city. These accidents involve cars, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians. Young adults bore half of the costs of these wrecks in a single year, and pedestrians experienced a surprising 27 percent of those damages. Because Baltimore is such a busy city, pedestrians are much more likely to be involved in an accident as they cross the street or use the sidewalk.
Motorcyclists and bicyclists take up 20 percent of those damages, and drivers must understand how to avoid accidents and keep their fellow motorists safe. If a car wreck occurs, victims should reach out to a car accident lawyer for help. Although the staggering cost of car wrecks impacts everyone in the state, victims are entitled to compensation in a variety of circumstances.
Car accidents cause people to miss work, pay off medical bills, and care for injured loved ones. As car accidents become more severe, the cost will rise. Even someone who has suffered only minor injuries could suffer greatly because conditions such as whiplash are extremely painful and make it difficult to work, focus, or even sleep.
How can I Avoid a Car Accident in Baltimore?
Avoiding car accidents in Baltimore requires attention to detail and forethought. The following tips will help drivers avoid accidents in the city, on its many interstates, and on suburban surface streets:
Avoid distractions: Distracted drivers caused 2,800 deaths and approximately 400,000 injuries across the United States in 2018. Drivers should put down their phones, never turn around, keep both hands on the wheel, and focus their eyes on the road. Drivers who like to listen to music should listen at a moderate level to avoid being distracted.
Directions, phone calls, texts, and emails should be run through the speakers in the vehicle. Drivers with young children are advised to keep them busy so that there is no need to discipline them in the car. A television screen in the car or personal tablet will occupy a child’s time while the parents are driving. This advice is especially important if babysitters or au pairs are driving the children.
Avoid driving during inclement weather: Spring and summer are hot and filled with intermittent rain. The roads become slippery, and someone on a narrow road could easily slide onto the sidewalk. Highway drivers could slide into a guardrail or off the road. Autumn weather includes falling leaves, and wet leaves make the road just as slippery as rain, ice, or snow. Winter weather includes snow and packed ice underneath. Although the roads in the city are plowed and/or salted, ice can form after the plow has driven away. Drivers should stay inside or pull over in extreme weather conditions. When drivers pull over, they should engage their hazard lights so that other motorists can see them.
Slow down: Speeding factors into approximately 25 percent of all accidents throughout the United States. Speeding in Baltimore is especially dangerous because narrow streets leave little room for evasive maneuvers. The Baltimore Harbor Tunnel is very tight, and crashes in the tunnel could cause severe damage, injuries, and deaths. Those speeding on the highway will encounter heavy traffic when entering or exiting the city, and rush hour traffic causes drivers to brake suddenly.
Look out for other travelers: Bicycles often have lanes marked on the road, and drivers should not casually cross over these lanes without looking out for a bicyclist. Motorcycles are often easy to miss. Drivers must remain alert to avoid any collisions. Additionally, pedestrians walk through the city all day. Motorists need to slow down at intersections in case someone has chosen to run across the street. Because some Baltimore roads are narrow, pedestrians will cross when they think no one is approaching. Both drivers and pedestrians need to remain alert in the heart of the city for the sake of everyone’s safety.
Avoid aggressive drivers: This is the safest thing that motorists can do. Aggressive drivers are often easy to spot because they are speeding and/or weaving through traffic. When someone is honking their horn or flashing their lights, drivers should get out of the way. In some cases, drivers are aggressive without realizing what they are doing. It helps to slow down and take the most direct route to the destination. Motorists should pull over if an aggressive driver is persistent or following too closely, call the local authorities, and do not engage the other driver.
Unfortunately, road rage or aggressive driving can lead to physical altercations. Nationally, seven percent of those involved in road rage incidents got out of their vehicle to verbally confront another driver. Six percent of drivers in road rage situations threw objects at the other driver or vehicle, and six percent of those surveyed were involved in a physical altercation.
How can I Avoid an Accident with a Large Truck in Baltimore?
Because Baltimore is home to several interstates, large trucks can easily pass through the city or enter the city. Drivers must avoid large trucks as much as possible. Large trucks on surface streets make wide turns, and their trailers cut off the turn unlike a passenger vehicle. Large trucks on the highway have a massive blind spot that drivers should not enter.
Drivers should not cut off large trucks because they are difficult to stop and their brakes overheat easily. Large truck drivers often need to back into alleys, adjust their vehicles on the side of the street, and pull over on the highway. Drivers must be mindful of what large trucks are doing. For example, a large truck driver might slowly turn left on the street, but it is clear they are about to back into an alley or loading dock. Drivers should stop and wait for the truck to complete this maneuver before proceeding.
Large trucks may also be improperly loaded or operated by drowsy, impaired, or aggressive drivers. If a large truck is swaying or snaking, other motorists should back away as much as possible. Large trucks can tip over easily, or they can jackknife when the driver loses control. Therefore, traveling in a large truck’s blind spot is a dangerous practice for anyone. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that over 800,000 accidents every year are caused by drivers lingering in blind spots.
Drivers should contact a car accident lawyer when an accident involving a large truck occurs. Although drivers must avoid these trucks for everyone’s safety, a large truck driver or the company that owns the truck may be guilty of gross misconduct or negligence.
What Evidence Should I Collect from a Car Accident?
Victims should do their best to collect evidence at the scene of a car accident that they can share with a lawyer. No one can be expected to complete a full investigation at the scene of the accident, but these items of information are helpful:
- Pictures or videos of the vehicles and the scene of the accident
- The name and badge number of the responding officer
- The police report number
- Names and contact information for eyewitnesses
- Insurance and contact information for everyone involved in the wreck
Every bit of information is useful when a lawyer files a lawsuit to recover damages after an accident. The lawyer can investigate on their own and fill in the gaps, but it helps to have first-hand information about the wreck. Victims are advised to call their insurance company to report the wreck, but they should not say anything other than a wreck occurred. The insurance company wants to pay as little money as possible when claims are filed, and they will twist the victim’s words whenever they can.
Police officers might do the same thing. If they hear someone apologizing at the scene, they are likely to assume that the person saying they are sorry caused the accident. A motorist apologizing to other drivers at the accident scene causes the same problem. Other drivers will tell their lawyers, insurance company, or the police that the apologetic party caused the accident even if that is obviously not the case.
Once a lawyer has completed their investigation, they can file suit to recover compensation for the victim or victims. The lawyer might also challenge the police officer’s findings, the police report, or the findings of an investigator completed by another agency.
Do Victims Need to See a Doctor?
Accident victims should see a doctor, go to the emergency room, or get checked out by an EMT at the scene. The issue here is that victims need a record of their injuries. Car wreck victims might have only been slightly injured, but they still require medical care. For example, whiplash is common in car wrecks, as everyone’s head will lean forward and whip back against the seat. This motion is very painful, and everyone in the car might experience a sore neck and shoulders for months without realizing they have whiplash.
Those with cuts, scrapes, bumps, and bruises should go to the emergency room or see a doctor so that they have a record of their treatment. The insurance company or responsible driver will be suspicious if there is no evidence of injuries caused during the accident.
These medical records also show how costly the accident has been. Someone who has a primary doctor can receive both a medical report and an estimate of how much recovery will cost. Victims should share all this information with a car wreck lawyer. The lawyer might also call on a medical expert who can speak to the severity of the victim’s injuries or how difficult their recovery will be.
Recovering Damages After an Accident
Recovering damages after an accident is a complex process. A lawyer is charged with determining how much can be recovered, including the following:
- Medical bills
- Recovery bills
- Physical therapy and counseling
- Lost wages, currently and in the future
- Pain and suffering for the victim or their family
- Punitive damages
Medical bills: Although it is simple to collect medical bills and add them together, the insurance company may want to claim some of those damages through subrogation. Victims and their families still have a case if the insurance company has made payments, and the total amount of the award will likely be much higher than what the insurance company has paid, given the many surgeries, procedures, and therapy sessions that are required.
Recovery bills: Bills for recovery include physical therapy and counseling. Victims of car wrecks might have post-traumatic stress disorder. Some drivers might have a mental block or visceral reaction when they drive by the scene of the accident every day. A therapist can help a victim overcome these obstacles, and a physical therapist will help the victim recover normal movement, body functionality, and/or motor skills.
Lost wages: If the victim is disabled in any way, they can sue for lost wages that they would have earned had they been allowed to continue working as normal. The victim may have missed work just after the accident, and they can sue for those wages as well.
Pain and suffering: Victims can sue for the loss of companionship or support they have suffered.
Punitive damages: These damages must be awarded by a judge or jury, and they are typically awarded as a multiple of the damages already won in the case. Although this is at the discretion of the judge or jury, there is no cap in Maryland.
Who can File for Wrongful Death of a Family Member?
A wrongful death lawsuit is used to recover damages when the decedent would have otherwise had reason to file a personal injury lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit cannot be brought by everyone who knew and loved the decedent; only their beneficiaries can file suit. The beneficiaries or heirs of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit, or the estate can sue on their behalf. The people who are suing are typically the spouse, children, or parents. If the grandparents, siblings, aunts, or uncles depended on the decedent, they may file suit. Wrongful death lawsuits include all the damages listed above, as well as the following costs:
- Burial costs
- Estate administration expenses
When the suit is filed, up to $10,000 can be requested for burial expenses. Estate administration expenses include probating a will, organizing an estate, selling property, and distributing assets to family members. Additionally, a lawyer may need to get involved if the life insurance company does not want to pay a lawful claim made by the family after they have lost a loved one.
When is a Lawyer Needed?
A car accident lawyer is required when remuneration is due for any car wreck. Irrespective of the state of the victim, a lawyer should litigate the case, including settlement negotiations or a trial. Hiring a lawyer just after the accident helps move the case along as quickly as possible. Lawyers can provide helpful advice to their clients, and they will work with everyone who has a stake in the case.
When the insurance company, lawyers for the defendant, other drivers, or representatives call, the lawyer should take all those calls. Any letters sent to the victim or their family should not be opened without a lawyer present, and the client should never meet with anyone about the case unless their lawyer attends the meetings.
Because Maryland has a three-year statute of limitations for both personal injury and wrongful death cases, victims cannot delay filing a lawsuit. This is yet another reason that victims should receive treatment and come to an understanding of how severe the accident was while also hiring a lawyer as soon as possible.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Assist Victims and Their Families Involved in All Types of Car Accidents
Anyone who has been hurt or lost a friend or relative in a car wreck should contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton for assistance. We understand how devastating a car wreck can be, particularly when the accident causes a tragic fatality. Our dedicated legal team will hold the negligent party responsible for your injuries and ensure that you receive the financial compensation you deserve. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online for a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.