FAQ: Auto Accident

  1. I was hurt in an auto accident that wasn’t my fault. What are my rights?
  2. If I was hurt in an accident but don’t want to go to court, can I still collect a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company?
  3. What happens if the at-fault driver doesn’t have car insurance?
  4. What happens if the at-fault driver’s car insurance has a low-limit policy that doesn’t cover all my injuries and damages?
  5. How does Personal Injury Protection work, and when do I have access to those benefits?
  6. If I am hurt in an accident and am self-employed, can I still recover my lost wages?
  7. How long do I have to bring a claim for injuries from an accident?
  8. I have many medical bills after the accident. Will a lawyer help me manage those bills?
  9. As a passenger hurt in an accident, can I recover anything if I am hurt by the driver’s negligence?
  10. If I am hurt by another person’s negligence, but don’t have health insurance, how are my medical bills paid?
  11. If my health insurance pays for medical care after the accident, do I have to pay them back if I receive money in settlement or after a trial?
  12. If I am hurt, how much will a lawyer charge to represent me?
  13. The other driver’s insurance company is calling me often, asking me to settle the claim. What should I do?
  14. What can I do if the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not paying a fair value for the damage to my car?
  15. If I am the victim of a hit-and-run, what can I do?
  16. Why should I choose Trunnell Law to represent me in my accident case?

1. I was hurt in an auto accident that wasn’t my fault. What are my rights?

You have the right to be fully compensated for your injuries, as well as any damage to your property. If you are hurt by someone else’s negligence, you have the right to be compensated for all injuries and damages caused by the accident, including pain and suffering. The at-fault driver’s insurance company is liable for medical bills for care you received for injuries caused by the accident. If you miss work, your lost wages are recoverable, along with other out-of-pocket expenses like the cost to fill prescriptions. Further, the pain and suffering you endure because of someone else’s carelessness or negligence is recoverable, and is based on a variety of factors established under the law.

The attorneys at Trunnell Law have substantial experience handling personal injury claims on behalf of people who are hurt. Call today for a free consultation and the opportunity to discuss your situation with a personal injury lawyer.

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2. If I was hurt in an accident but don’t want to go to court, can I still collect a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company?

Absolutely. About 9 out of 10 accident cases settle without having to file a lawsuit. In those cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays a private settlement in exchange for the victim’s promise not to sue the negligent driver. When a case settles, the victim can move on with his or her life quicker, and no one has to testify in court or be involved in litigation.

While the Trunnell Law firm has significant litigation experience, we also know how to reach reasonable settlements if the situation allows for settlement. The fact that former prosecutor Richard R. Trunnell has tried hundreds of cases means the insurance companies know that Trunnell Law is not afraid to file a lawsuit, which often means that same insurance company is more likely to make a reasonable settlement offer that will resolve the case without a lawsuit. While the lawyers at Trunnell Law, LLC will always advise clients and set forth a recommended plan of action, at the end of the day the decision to settle or to file suit is always the client’s decision.

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3. What happens if the at-fault driver doesn’t have car insurance?

In most cases, you are still covered by your own insurance through an uninsured/underinsured policy, which almost all drivers have as part of their own automobile insurance. If someone is hurt by an uninsured motorist, the attorneys at Trunnell Law have experience pursuing a claim on behalf of the victim against their own uninsured motorist policy. Filing an uninsured motorist claim will not increase your premium, and your insurance company can pursue reimbursement of any settlement or judgment paid to you from the uninsured driver.

Maryland law mandates that auto insurers provide uninsured motorist coverage so that people who are hurt can be compensated for their injuries even if the negligent driver failed to follow the law and purchase auto insurance. The attorneys at Trunnell Law understand uninsured motorist claims and the special rules that apply these types of claims.

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4. What happens if the at-fault driver’s car insurance has a low-limit policy that doesn’t cover all my injuries and damages?

In the same way that an accident victim’s own insurance policy maintains uninsured motorist coverage, companion coverage called underinsured motorist coverage can provide additional benefits to those with policy limits that are higher than that of the negligent driver. For example, if you have $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage and a negligent driver with $50,000 in insurance hurts you in an accident, your own underinsured coverage would pay any sum in settlement or judgment greater than the $50,000 available through the at-fault driver’s insurance up to the $100,000 limit.

Unfortunately, it is often the poor drivers that maintain low-limit policies because it is more expensive for poor drivers to purchase auto insurance. Yet, because the State of Maryland requires uninsured/underinsured coverage, you may have recourse if you are hurt by a negligent driver with a low-limit policy. The attorneys at Trunnell Law know how to fight for more than just the low-limit insurance policy the at-fault driver may have purchased. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your rights after an accident.

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5. How does Personal Injury Protection work, and when do I have access to those benefits?

The State of Maryland requires that all auto insurance policies offered in the state include Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP benefits can be waived by the insured driver, but the waiver must be in writing. Almost all accident victims have access to PIP funds, which are usually available through the victim’s own insurance company, depending on the circumstances of the accident. The minimum amount of PIP benefits allowed by law is $2,500, and these funds are available immediately after an accident to pay medical bills, lost wages, prescription costs, doctor’s co-pays, and other qualified expenses. An injured person has one year from the date of accident to apply for PIP benefits.

Using PIP funds to pay medical bills or reimburse at victim for lost time from work does not prevent those losses from being claimed in the settlement or lawsuit against the negligent driver. This type of double-recovery, allowed by Maryland law, helps injured people manage the expenses that typically follow an accident.

Often law firms will charge an accident victim an additional fee to help access and manage their PIP benefits. At Trunnell Law, we never charge an additional fee related to obtaining your PIP benefits. Our team will help you apply for and manage PIP benefits at absolutely no additional fee.

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6. If I am hurt in an accident and am self-employed, can I still recover my lost wages?

Absolutely. If you have missed time from work, even if you were paid for the time or had to use sick leave or vacation time, you can recover lost wages for the time missed due to the accident. This is true for both those that work for an employer and those victims who are self-employed. The lawyers at Trunnell Law understand how to present a lost wage claim. We will work to recover lost wages for both the time you missed due to injuries after the accident and the time you missed to receive treatment after you started back to work. Let us fight on your behalf.

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7. How long do I have to bring a claim for injuries from an accident?

That depends on who caused the accident, where the accident happened, and some other factors. Seeing an attorney as soon as possible after an accident is the best way to make sure your claim is not brought too late. While the general statute of limitations is three years from the date of the accident, several exceptions and early notice deadlines can apply. For example, if you are hurt by an employee of a local government, you must put the potential defendant on notice that you are filing a claim within 180 days.

When someone is hurt in an accident, time is of the essence. Witnesses must be interviewed, your attorneys should obtain the police report and any 911 audio recording, and a thorough investigation should be made. Trunnell Law knows how to investigate the important details of a personal injury claim. We urge every accident victim to retain a lawyer immediately because those first few weeks after the accident are crucial to protecting the rights of injured persons and obtaining the largest possible settlement. Do not delay in hiring an attorney after an accident.

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8. I have many medical bills after the accident. Will a lawyer help me manage those bills?

The lawyers at Trunnell Law care about helping their clients fully recover after an accident, and we take pride in helping injured people manage their bills and obligations after an accident. The months following an accident, prior to any settlement or judgment, can be difficult for an accident victim, especially if the victim does not have health insurance.

We will communicate with your doctors, and if possible, we will work to negotiate a reduction of the health insurance lien or balance due to a medical provider. We work diligently to make sure that our clients receive all the care medically appropriate, and still are able to keep as much of their settlement as possible by working with your doctors.

Trunnell Law helps injured people obtain immediate access to any PIP benefits they may be entitled to which help pay medical bills and lost wages. Further, we collect your medical bills and records so that we can present your claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance and, further, so we can help the victim keep track of outstanding balances and obligations.

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9. As a passenger hurt in an accident, can I recover anything if I am hurt by the driver’s negligence?

Yes you can. Your rights as a passenger in the car of a negligent driver are similar to the rights you have if you were struck by another vehicle operated by a negligent driver. You may file a claim against the driver’s insurance, and the driver is responsible for any damages caused by his or her negligence.

In the cases of injured passengers, the passenger and driver are usually acquaintances, if not friends or family. The attorneys at Trunnell Law understand the delicate balance that exists when victims hurt as passengers seek to settle a claim for injuries against a person they know that caused their injuries. We can help you attempt to reach a fair and amicable settlement in circumstances like this without the need to file a lawsuit or involve the at-fault driver in contentious proceedings.

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10. If I am hurt by another person’s negligence, but don’t have health insurance, how are my medical bills paid?

If you are hurt by someone else’s negligence, part of your recovery, in settlement or at trial, will be apportioned to your medical bills and those related costs. The significant hurdle for those people without health insurance is the fact that settlement, and especially litigation, can be a lengthy process. While a claim is pending, the injured person needs access to health care immediately. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) funds can be used to pay these costs, but when PIP funds are exhausted, victims without health insurance need attorneys who will work with medical providers to make arrangements to receive the treatment they need now.

The attorneys at Trunnell Law understand the importance of helping victims of auto accidents receive the medical care they need to recover from their injuries, regardless of whether they have health insurance.

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11. If my health insurance pays for medical care after the accident, do I have to pay them back if I receive money in settlement or after a trial?

Most health insurance contracts state that if a person receives money from a third party for injuries caused by the third party, the insured person has to reimburse the health insurance company for medical care attributed to the accident. If an injured person has an attorney representing him or her, the health insurance company shall reduce their claim for reimbursement typically by one-third based on the theory that the attorney’s efforts help procure the money for the insurance company. This duty is established in the Maryland Code in The Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, Title 11 Judgments Subtitle 1 §11-112.

The attorneys at Trunnell Law are experienced in handling and reducing health insurance and medical provider liens. We understand medical liens, and fight on behalf of each and every client to reduce any liens, thereby allowing the client to keep more of their settlement.

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12. If I am hurt, how much will a lawyer charge to represent me?

Fee arrangements in personal injury cases can take a variety of forms, but the traditional way personal injury lawyers receive a fee is through an arrangement called a contingent fee structure. What that means is if you don’t receive any money, you do not owe any attorneys’ fee. This type of fee means the client does not pay an attorney for the amount of time the attorney spends on the case, but instead pays a percentage of the total settlement or judgment award to the attorney at the conclusion of the case.

Most clients prefer a contingent fee arrangement because the client need not pay money to the lawyer up front, traditionally, and if there is no recovery in the case, the client does not owe a fee to the lawyer.

At Trunnell Law, we rely almost exclusively on contingent fee arrangements in personal injury cases because we understand that a person hurt in an accident does not want to have to pay up front to retain the legal help they need.

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13. The other driver’s insurance company is calling me often, asking me to settle the claim. What should I do?

The first thing you should do is contact a lawyer to make sure that you are getting fairly compensated for your injuries. Insurance companies are in business to make money, not to fairly compensate injured people. Insurance companies and their employees who call victims after an accident have one and only one goal: pay as little as possible to settle the victim’s claim. Often times, the adjuster who calls an injured victim is very nice, even compassionate over the telephone. They usually tell injured persons that everything will be taken care of, including lost wages and medical bills. This approach is intentional, and is usually intended to keep injured persons from retaining a lawyer because insurance companies know that most people do not understand the rights they have after an accident.

If you are being contacted by a representative from the negligent driver’s insurance company, you should speak to a lawyer immediately. At Trunnell Law, personal injury consultations are always free, even if you decide not to retain our firm.

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14. What can I do if the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not paying a fair value for the damage to my car?

If the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not giving you fair value for a car that was totaled in an accident, you can appeal their decision and fight back. Sometimes an accident victim’s car, which was paid off, has to be totaled after an accident, but the insurance company’s offer to pay is not enough to purchase a comparable vehicle. In those cases, let experienced personal injury attorneys go to bat for you.

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15. If I am the victim of a hit-and-run, what can I do?

If you have been hurt by a driver who fled the scene or who gave false information at the scene of the accident, you can likely recover a settlement against your own insurance company under uninsured motorist coverage as explained above. If a negligent driver flees the scene and cannot be identified, they become an “uninsured driver” under the law, and victims generally have recourse through their own auto insurance.

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16. Why should I choose Trunnell Law to represent me in my accident case?

There are several important differences that set Trunnell Law apart from other personal injury firms:

  • Trial Experience
    Richard R. Trunnell, a former prosecutor, has tried hundreds of cases and has 26 years of legal experience. Named a Leading Lawyer by What’s Up magazine, Mr. Trunnell has the courtroom experience and know-how that insurance companies respect. While Trunnell Law understands that many clients want to settle their claim without going to court, the fact that Trunnell Law has an experienced trial attorney helps each of our clients receive a better value and return in settlement of their case. The insurance companies know which attorneys will never go to court, and those clients may not always get fair value for their cases. Here at Trunnell Law, we have the trial experience the insurance companies respect.
  • Personal Attention from Personal Injury Attorneys
    At Trunnell Law, all of our personal injury clients have the direct telephone number to one of our personal injury attorneys. If one of our clients has a question, he or she can pick up the phone and get an answer. Our clients do not have to wade through layers of assistants or leave messages that go unreturned. We know that the time following an accident is hard enough. Let us help you through this difficult time.
  • No Hidden Fees
    At the Trunnell Law firm, we do not tack on hidden fees to anything we do. Unlike some firms, we never charge any additional fee to help a client obtain PIP benefits, nor do we charge any additional fee for our efforts to reduce any liens on a client’s case. We work diligently to not only manage the case, but also make sure an injured person is receiving the medical treatment he or she needs.

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