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|What Should I Do After An Accident||Should I Get A Lawyer|
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|What Can I Recover||Important Issues In Truck Accidents|
|How Are Cases Proven|
Motor vehicle accidents involving trucks include additional and oftentimes complicated issues that require legal advice.
After handling many of these types of cases, my Firm is well versed in the uniqueness of accidents and injuries involving tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles, allowing me to provide the level of expertise that is needed to handle this type of case properly and effectively.
The 9 Immediate Steps You Need to Take Following the Accident Are:
Step 1. Obtain Proper Medical Care and Treatment:
The first and foremost concern is tending to the injuries sustained in the accident.
The injuries caused by truck accidents are different than other types of injuries. These injuries require immediate and proper medical diagnosis, care and treatment, usually followed by physical therapy or chiropractic treatment.
Therefore, it is important to have a thorough and comprehensive medical examination by a doctor who specializes in the blunt trauma associated with moving motor vehicle accidents.
More often than not, it is not enough to just be checked out at the Emergency Room following a motor vehicle collision. Medical treatment needs to be combined with physical therapy or chiropractic treatment for proper healing.
This is why, even if my clients have been to the Emergency Room or to their family practitioner following an accident, I still send them to Doctors who specialize in these specific types of injuries for proper care, treatment and therapy, so that they do not risk having future medical problems. (See Types of Injuries Sustained In Car Accidents).
You should receive thorough diagnostic testing, which may include X-rays, CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan) which takes detailed pictures of the internal structures of the body by using x-rays, and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) which takes pictures of the body like an x-ray, but uses powerful magnets and radio waves instead of radiation.
Under Maryland law, the driver who caused the accident is liable and is therefore responsible for compensating you for your injuries, damages and losses, and there is no cost to you for receiving medical treatment and legal representation. These cases are handled on a contingency basis, which means that the Insurance company is responsible for making you whole again due to the negligence of the truck driver.
Because the Doctors who specialize in bodily injuries sustained from vehicle collisions know that it is the legal and financial responsibility of the at-fault driver, through their insurance company, to pay for your medical expenses, the Doctors will wait until you finish treating and your case is resolved, to be paid by the insurance company.
You may be entitled to significant monetary compensation. I assure that my clients receive the compensation they are entitled to receive in these cases and that they are made whole again for the negligence of the driver who caused the injuries and losses.
It is also important for you to know that if you have health insurance coverage and you use it to cover your medical care and treatment for your injuries from the car accident, the health insurer may seek to be reimbursed from the recovery you receive in your case.
This is yet another reason why I refer my clients to Doctors who specialize in these cases and who will wait until you finish treating and your case is resolved to be paid by the insurance company.
For my clients who used their health insurance benefits before coming to me, I will negotiate with the health insurance carrier to reduce the reimbursement the carrier is seeking in order to maximum my clients’ financial recovery in their case.
Furthermore, you should know that you do not have to sign the medical providers’ liens, which ensure that they will be paid, in order for you to receive medical treatment. Some of the liens authorize the payment of interest on the open balance. People sign these liens because they believe they have to, when in actuality, they do not.
Step 2. Apply for PIP (Personal Injury Protection):
Personal Injury Protection, is insurance coverage which covers medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses resulting from personal injuries in automobile accidents. It is not fault based, therefore, you are covered regardless of who caused the accident, and it will not affect your premiums or count against you.
If you carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) on your automobile insurance policy, you should open a PIP claim to pay for medical expenses and/or lost wages due to the accident.
The minimum amount of PIP coverage is $2,500.00. Most insurance carriers write the policies in three amounts: $2,500.00, $5,000.00 and $10,000.00.
I advise my clients to get the higher amounts of coverage because the difference in premium paid is very small. The insurance companies do not promote the higher amounts of coverage because they are providing a lot of coverage for a low amount of premium, therefore you have to ask for the higher amount of coverage.
If you do not have PIP coverage, you would have had to specifically waive it by signing a Waiver form. If you do not see PIP coverage on your car insurance policy, make sure that you request a copy of the Waiver that you would have signed in order to waive it. Without that, it is not waived and they must cover you.
Under Maryland law, specifically, the Maryland Insurance Code, Section 19-505(a), PIP covers those injured persons who were in the vehicle that the policy covers, and includes the insured, guests and passengers in the insured vehicle, family members who live in the insured’s home, permissive users of the insured’s vehicle, and any pedestrians who were injured in the collision.
Therefore, even if you do not PIP coverage on your policy because you waived it, I can also get you coverage under a family members’ policy, even though they were not a party to the accident, as long as they live in your home. Lastly, because the coverage is not fault based, it will not affect their premiums or count against them.
There is also another law in Maryland which benefits my clients in these cases. Under the Collateral Source Rule, you can use your PIP coverage to pay for your medical bills and/or your lost wages even though the at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay your medical bills and reimburse you for your lost wages, even if your employer is paying you while you are absent from work while you are recovering from your injuries.
You are allowed to recover twice for your damages because you are using a benefit, such as sick leave from work, which you have earned and used due to this accident.
It is important to note that Maryland has a one year “statute of limitations” for making a PIP claim under the Insurance Code, Section 19-508. This means that you have 1 year from the date of the accident to file the application for PIP coverage, otherwise you are not eligible to receive that coverage.
I complete and file the PIP application forms for my clients immediately to ensure that they are protected and so that they receive the benefits right away. If the insurance company states that PIP was waived, I will request to see the Waiver that would have to be signed by you in order to waive it. Without that, it is not waived and they must cover you.
If you did in fact waive PIP coverage, I will check the other allowable provisions under the Maryland Insurance Code, Section 19-505(a), such as the car insurance policies of the family members who live with you, or whether you are a “permissive user” of the insured’s vehicle.
Step 3. Notify Your Insurance Company And The Other Driver’s Insurance Company:
After receiving proper medical care and attention, the next important step is to notify both your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company of the accident. A claim needs to be opened with the other driver’s insurance company. However, do not provide a statement to the other driver’s insurance company (Read Should I Provide a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company?). I provide the statement to the insurance Adjuster on behalf of my clients in order to protect them and their claim.
My experience representing victims of truck accident cases has uncovered the defense tactics used by insurance companies and has allowed me to best prepare and present my clients cases and to maximize their financial recovery.
The other driver’s insurance company is not on your side and will protect their own insured, not you. Call me directly at 410-983-3022 before you speak with them in order to protect your interests, or you can email me directly.
You can also protect your case by downloading my Free Truck Accident Fact Book and learn what to do Right Now.
Step 4. Determine the Vehicle’s Property Damage:
The next issue which needs to be addressed is the property damage resulting from the accident.
The vehicle driven in the accident must be examined by a body shop for an estimate of the property damage or if the vehicle is declared to be a total loss, the market value must be determined (See Property Damage Information Center).
Step 5. Vehicle Storage Fees:
If your vehicle was towed from the scene of the accident, the tow yard will charge a towing fee and daily storage fees until the vehicle is removed and taken to a body shop for repairs or declared a total loss and released to the insurance company.
Therefore, the adjuster assigned to handle the claim must act immediately to open the claim, accept liability, and have the vehicle moved and examined so that your vehicle does not sit at the tow yard running up daily storage fees at your expense.
I ensure that I speak immediately with the adjuster from the at-fault driver’s insurance company who is assigned to the case so that a claim is opened and the car is appraised right away so that my client’s car will be repaired or replaced quickly and they are not stuck paying the storage fees.
Step 6. Rental Car and Temporary Transportation:
While your vehicle is being evaluated, you may need alternative transportation. The at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for providing you with either a rental car or giving you a cash allowance to pay for transportation while your car is being evaluated and repaired, or if the vehicle is totaled, for a reasonable period of time to allow you to purchase a substitute vehicle.
Step 7. Absence From Work While You Recover:
You may be unable to go to work due to your injuries and you may have a Lost Wage claim. I will file a Lost Wage Claim with the insurance company so that you are reimbursed for the time that you lose at work while you are healing and recovering from your injuries.
Even if your employer is paying you while you are out, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will also pay you for the time you missed at work (See number 2 above and the Collateral Source Rule). You may be paid for your lost wages under a PIP claim (See number 2 above)as well.
Step 8. Evidence and Witnesses:
There is evidence which needs to be obtained and preserved, and witnesses who must be interviewed immediately after the accident in order to prove and to protect your case (Read Evidence In Car Accident Cases). My investigators will immediately conduct a through investigation of the accident scene, the property damage, and the witnesses to protect your claim.
Step 9. Obtain Legal Counsel:
It is important that your primary focus following a car accident is to properly heal and recover from your injuries so that you can be restored to your condition before the accident. In order to do this, you need to devote your time and attention to receiving proper and thorough medical care, attention and treatment, and not to dealing with the insurance companies.
It is not possible to devote your time to your medical needs when so many other issues must be addressed right away. The stress and time that these issues can involve end up preventing you from making a healthy and rapid recovery. It is my duty and responsibility to handle all of the issues involved in these cases for you.
Furthermore, I have learned from speaking with my clients that most people are unaware of the full extent of the recoveries available to them in these types of cases. Unfortunately, the insurance companies do not inform them of this either.
I will inform you of all of the types of remedies and financial recoveries that you are entitled to receive, as well as your rights, which far exceed just receiving compensation for your medical expenses and car repairs (Read What Damages Can I Recover?).
I do this at no cost to you because automobile accident cases in Maryland are handled on a contingency basis, which means that the at-fault driver’s insurance company is legally and financially responsible for your injuries, damages and losses in the case, and will pay for the medical care and treatment, property damage, related expenses and attorney’s fees in the case.
You will be fully compensated for all of your damages and made whole again for the negligence of the driver who caused your injuries and losses, with no out-of-pocket expenses to you.
For more information about your car accident case and what you need to do right now, call me directly at: 410-983-3022 and I will discuss, review and evaluate your case with you at no charge. You may also contact me by completing the Contact box on the left side of this page, or by email. You can also protect your case right now by reading my advice in my Free Truck Accident Fact Book.
Important Issues in Truck Accident Cases
The issues which make truck accident cases unique are discussed in this section. To begin, instead of dealing with another driver and their insurance company, under the legal theory of Agency, you are dealing with a Commercial trucking company, the professional truck driver, the trucking company’s insurance company and the truck driver’s insurance company.
Furthermore, in addition to Maryland law, trucks are also regulated by Federal regulations which cover the operation and maintenance of trucks.
The Code of Federal Regulations called the “Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations” (FMCSR) applies specifically to trucks and is the safety standard which professional truck drivers and motor carriers are required to follow in the operation of commercial motor vehicles.
The FMCSR focuses on reducing and preventing crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses by requiring professional truck drivers to have a single Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver’s License and by disqualifying drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles in an unsafe manner.
The regulations which deal specifically with commercial trucks are found in Title 49, Parts 350 to 399. Maryland has adopted some of the FMCSR regulations with only minor changes, specifically Parts 382, 390-393, and 395-399 have been incorporated by reference into Maryland law.
Other potential issues in these cases include the truck driver’s violation of regulation with respect to the type of cargo being carried or the length of time spent driving prior to the accident. The investigation into the accident will include reviewing the truck’s black box which measures numerous parameters that can assist in determining how the accident occurred.
The company which hired the driver may also be responsible under the legal theories of Negligent Entrustment or Negligent Supervision if it failed to properly screen the truck driver and the driver’s driving records or failed to properly train the truck driver.
There can also be a claim for Negligent Maintenance if the company or the truck driver failed to properly maintain the truck.
Motor carriers must ensure that all drivers of commercial motor vehicles meet the minimum qualifications specified in the Code of Federal Regulations Parts 383 and 391. Driver qualification regulations apply to all drivers of commercial motor vehicles and to motor carriers, including companies that operate commercial motor vehicles.
The General Requirements for drivers of commercial motor vehicles require that drivers:
- Be in good health and physically able to perform the duties of a driver;
- Be at least 21 years of age;
- Speak and read English well enough to converse with the general public, understand highway traffic signs and signals, respond to official questions, and be able to make legible entries on reports and records;
- Be able to drive the vehicle safely;
- Know how to load and properly, block, brace and secure the cargo;
- Have only one valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s [driver’s] license;
- Provide an employing motor carrier with a list of all motor vehicle violations or a signed statement that the driver has not been convicted of any motor vehicle violations during the past 12 months (a disqualified driver can not drive a commercial motor vehicle for any reason);
- Pass a driver’s road test or equivalent road test (Possession of a valid Commercial Driver’s License with appropriate endorsements is considered proof of equivalent road test);
- Complete a valid application for employment;
- Possess a valid medical certificate.
A driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle on public highways for the following offenses:
- Revocation, suspension or withdrawal of an operator’s license;
- Conviction or forfeiture of bond for the following criminal offenses while driving a commercial motor vehicle;
- Driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol;
- Driving a vehicle while under the influence of a disqualifying drug or other controlled substance;
- Leaving the scene of an accident that involves a commercial motor vehicle;
- Using a commercial motor vehicle to commit a felony;
- Using a commercial motor vehicle to violate an Out-of-Service Order;
- Committing serious, specified traffic violations while driving a commercial motor vehicle. A first offender is disqualified for periods ranging from 60 days to 2 years following conviction or forfeiture of specified offences or for life for specified commercial motor vehicle offenses. For a second or third offense, a driver is disqualified for 3 years to life depending on the offense. Certain offenses permanently disqualify the driver upon the first violation.
A driver is disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle on public highways for Physical disqualification. Physical requirements for a driver specify that the driver has:
- No loss of a foot, a leg, a hand, or an arm;
- No established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes requiring insulin for control;
- No clinical diagnosis of any disqualifying heart disease;
- No clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure. The Department of Transportation’s regulations allow for control of blood pressure by medication and on going monitoring of blood pressure under a health care professional’s supervision;
- No clinical diagnosis of epilepsy;
- 20/40 vision or better with corrective lenses;
- Distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 in both eyes;
- Ability to recognize the colors (red, green and amber) of traffic signals;
- Ability to hear a forced whisper;
- No history of Schedule I drug use or any other substance identified in Appendix D of the controlled substances testing regulations;
- No clinical diagnosis of alcoholism. General physical requirements for drivers are found in 49 CFR §391.41.
In addition to the other required qualifications, drivers in propane delivery operations must have a current Commercial Driver’s License that documents the correct classification (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) and endorsements (tanker, air brakes, combination vehicles, etc.) for the vehicles types they will operate, and a hazardous materials endorsement for transporting LP-gases:
- A commercial motor vehicle driver is prohibited from having more than one commercial motor vehicle driver’s license under49 CFR § 383.1(b);
- Requires a driver to notify the driver’s current employer and the driver’s State of domicile of certain convictions;
- Requires that a driver provide previous employment information when applying for employment as an operator of a commercial motor vehicle;
- Prohibits an employer from allowing a person with a suspended license to operate a commercial motor vehicle;
- Establishes periods of disqualification and penalties for those persons convicted of certain criminal and other offenses and serious traffic violations, or subject to any suspensions, revocations, or cancellations of certain driving privileges; and sets out other driver qualification requirements.
Rules regarding disqualified drivers are found in § 383.51 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations and state:
- A driver or holder of a Commercial Driver’s License who is disqualified must not drive a commercial motor vehicle; and
- An employer must not knowingly allow, require, permit, or authorize a driver who is disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
Driver offenses that require disqualification carry disqualification periods ranging from 60 days to the lifetime of the driver. A
Applicable offenses apply to driver violations committed in any vehicle, including the driver’s personal vehicle, violations committed while operating a commercial motor vehicle, and violations committed in a commercial motor vehicle that is transporting hazardous materials.
In addition to specific offenses, a driver may be disqualified from holding a Commercial Driver’s License by action of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration if the driver’s record of violations are determined to present “imminent hazard” that warrants disqualification of the driver.
There are no training requirements for the regulations. Some companies provide awareness training in safety meetings or by other means to remind drivers of the offenses and physical conditions that can lead to disqualification.
Periodic review of driver qualification files and checking for expiration dates of Commercial Driver’s License and current driver physical certifications are important compliance measures.
When Driver Violations Reports or the driver’s record reveals that the driver has committed a disqualifying offense, immediate steps should be taken to ensure that the driver does not drive a Commercial Driver’s License or placarded vehicle during the disqualification period.
Additional information and resources are available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration at www.fmcsa.dot.gov.
My Firm knows the Insurance companies’ defense tactics and how to best prepare and present your case to maximize your recovery. As a victim of a truck accident, the insurance company that pays for the injuries, damages and losses in the case will pay for the medical treatment, related expenses and attorney’s fees, and you will be compensated and made whole for the negligence of the other driver so that there is no cost to you.
The Insurance company is not on your side and will protect their own insured, not you. Before you speak with them, call me directly at 410-983-3022 and I will answer your questions and concerns. You may also contact me by completing the Contact box on the left side of this page, or email me directly. I will discuss, review and evaluate your case with you at no charge.
You can also protect your case by reading my Free Truck Accident Fact Book and learn what to do Right Now.