Maryland Car Accident Lawyers Show There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Questions
Everyone has questions, especially after being injured in a Maryland accident. That’s when you can turn to the lawyers who can answer your questions. Bob Katz has posted many Frequently Asked Questions on his website. He wants Maryland and Virginia injury victims to have the facts so they can move forward with their cases, make the right decision when hiring an attorney, receive the compensation they deserve, and focus on their recovery.
The following are a selected group of questions frequently asked by injured victims seeking answers. Please note that the following materials are NOT Legal Advice or Legal Opinion - All materials provided herein are prepared for a general audience for general informational purposes only. Their sole purpose is to better educate you about a variety of general legal issues so that you become more educated consumers of legal services. Information provided on the Sites should never be a substitute for consulting with a lawyer. Please contact us directly for advice on your specific situation.
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If I Make a Personal Injury Protection Coverage Claim (PIP), Can My Insurance Company Raise My Premiums?
NOTE: the following is not legal advice. If you have questions about your specific case, right to make a PIP claim or how to make a PIP claim, please consult with an attorney.
Generally speaking: Personal Injury Protection is a form of coverage offered to purchasers of motor-vehicle insurance and is governed by Maryland laws and the Maryland Insurance Code. The main function of PIP coverage is to serve as a way to help injured parties obtain reimbursement or payment for medical bills and monetary loss due to injury after an accident. In the State of Maryland, PIP coverage is mandatory. That is, insurance companies are required to provide this basic form of coverage to all applicants at the time they apply for insurance unless those individuals choose to affirmatively waive coverage. Pursuant to Maryland laws, which dictate the amount of coverage that must be provided, an insured who elects not to waive PIP coverage should expect that their automobile policy will hold at minimum, PIP coverage of up to $2,500.
Historically, there was always the potential that an insured individual could sustain a policy premium increase when making a PIP claim against his or her own policy. Insurance companies can and will raise premium rates for a variety of reasons. However, recognizing that insurance carriers were able to penalize insured individuals for benefits they were paying for, the State of Maryland in 2009 passed a law rectifying this matter.
In 2009, the Maryland General Assembly amended § 19-507(c) of the Maryland Insurance Article to prevent Insurers from raising insurance rates after a claim is made under this portion of the policy. The chief aim of this law is thus protect the rights of an injured person to make a claim for payment of medical expenses on their own insurance policy without the fear that their insurer will retaliate and raise their insurance rates. It protects their rights by enforcing the rule that a policy premium cannot be increased should a PIP claim be presented on your personal automobile insurance policy. The full changes to the law are summarized in a memorandum by the Maryland Insurance Administration and can be read here.
What is gap insurance and why do I need it?
Gap insurance usually costs a few hundred dollars and may cover you if you are in an accident and your car is deemed a total loss but the total loss offer is not enough to pay for you loan.
Example: John owes $20,000.00 to his bank after taking out a new car loan to purchase a vehicle. John is involved in an accident a month later and the vehicle is totaled. The insurance company offers John $18,000.00 for the total loss of his vehicle, however if John accepts this offer and uses the money to pay off the loan, he will still owe $2000.00 to the bank and will have no vehicle. If John cannot recover additional funds for the car, he will be personally liable for the difference between the total loss value and what he owes to the bank.
Bottom line: If you have Gap insurance then it may pay the difference in your loan balance and what the insurance company pays out on a damaged vehicle. Vehicles depreciate the minute you drive off the lot so frequently, owners are suprised when their vehicles are totaled and they end up owing money to the bank.
When is a Driver Negligent?
In it's simplest form, "Negligence" is the failing to do what a reasonable person would do under the same or similar circumstances, or otherwise taking some action that falls outside the reasonable person standard. It can be an action or an omission and is usually judged by the "reasonable person" standard. The law usually imposes on most people a duty to act reasonably and considers a breach of this duty to be negligence. The standard of care required often varies depending on the circumstances, the age and mental status of the actor and may also be affected by the educational status of the actor. For example, professionals such as doctors may be held to a higher standard of care than a layperson would be held to, in the same or similar circumstances.
Determining whether someone was negligent often depends as well on the cause of the accident.
The Cause of Your Accident is Important to Know
For example, responsible drivers usually do not cause auto accidents -- negligent drivers usually do. Some examples of negligent driving include:
- Distracted Driving: Many activities divert drivers' attention from safely navigating. Electronic devices are at the top of the list, but other tasks are great offenders, including operating the car radio, eating, drinking, talking with passengers, putting on makeup and reading.
- Speeding: "Speed Kills." This is a fact. When vehicles travel at higher rates of speed, it is harder to stop and reaction time is less. Some drivers ignore the speed limits on Maryland, Virignia and Washington DC city streets, highways and rural roads. Exceeding the speed limit is a common cause of wrongful injury or wrongful death.
- Reckless Driving: Often combined with speeding, reckless driving includes weaving in and out of traffic, fast lane changes, following too close to the car ahead, cutting off another driver, and road rage behavior.
- Drunk Driving: Operating a motor vehicle in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington DC with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is illegal. A person driving under the influence and drunk or on drugs runs an extremely high risk of injuring or killing someone else, or him or herself.
How can someone from the Korean community find a good personal injury lawyer for their car accident case in Maryland or Virginia?
1. Research the lawyer’s credentials. Does the lawyer have a good reputation in the Korean community? Has the lawyer spent decades representing Korean Americans for car accident and injury cases before many other “Korean Accident Lawyers,” were in the market?
2. Does the lawyer have a support staff who understands the needs of the Korean Community?
3. Where was the lawyer educated and what kind of experience does he have?
4. Does the lawyer provide top service to his clients?
5. Has the lawyer been recognized by word of mouth, friends, family and the like? Or are they merely heavy into advertising. Many lawyers spend more money and time marketing then they due providing quality service to their clients, and as a result the client’s case might suffer from lack of reasonable attention.
6. In addition to providing good service, does the lawyer get good results and publish those results?
7. Is the lawyer willing to take cases to trial and fight for reasonable and fair compensation for clients.
8. Check online to see what others have said about the lawyer? Do the online research. Has the lawyer ever been reprimanded for failure to act ethically or honorably?
9. Do the testimonials of the lawyer’s clients online speak highly of the lawyer’s abilities, responsiveness, aggressiveness and overall service level?
10. Does the lawyer give back to the Korean Community?
11. Look at the Korean Personal Injury Law Firm’s website? Has it been translated into Korean? Are testimonials from actual Korean speaking clients? Is the lawyer well known in the Korean community?
Why Bob Katz is a great choice as a personal injury or car accident attorney for someone in the Korean community.1. Bob’s Korean clients speak very highly of him. You can read some of our Korean client testimonials on our Korean Personal Injury Site koreanaccidentattorneys.com
2. Bob Katz has learned over time that Koreans in the Maryland, Northern Virginia and DC area are a tightly knit community that value professionals that give back to the community. Bob Katz believes that giving back to the Korean community has contributed to his success over time. From the Miss Korea Beauty Pageant to golf tournaments, to auto-body shops, Bob Katz stays involved locally and has sponsored and contributed to events in the local Korean community for more than a decade.
3. Bob Katz employs a number of Korean speaking staff in his day to day practice, which help give him insight into the needs of the Korean people. While Bob Katz is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race or any other factor, he does frequently have a need to hire Korean speaking attorneys and interpreters. For example, one of his top personal injury attorneys, Christine Lee, is a Korean-speaking attorney and alongside Bob Katz, she fights to help her clients get fair compensation every day. She has been with Bob Katz for more than 20 years. Additionally, several of Bob’s Korean interpreters have been with him for more than a decade. His interpreter, Yun Cha Yun, has been with him more than 15 years.
4. Mr. Katz is Chairman of the Personal Injury Group. Since joining Gordon, Feinblatt in 1982, Mr. Katz has concentrated his practice in the handling of personal injury claims, primarily plaintiff. His areas of practice include all areas of tort claims and litigation, including auto accidents, premises liability, products liability, toxic torts, air crash accidents, injury claims arising under maritime and admiralty jurisdiction, and worker's compensation.
5. He received his J.D. degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1973. He was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar in 1973, the Maryland Bar in 1977 and is admitted to practice in the United States District Courts for the District of Columbia and Maryland. He was a trial attorney for the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Chief Counsel from 1973 to 1974 where he handled air safety matters, and was with the Department of Justice, Civil Division, Torts Section as a trial attorney from 1974 to 1976. At the Justice Department, he received merit awards each year for his success as a trial attorney defending the United States in complex, wrongful death cases involving up to 125 fatalities from a single accident. Thereafter, Mr. Katz was Counsel to The Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Maryland where he handled personal injury defense litigation.
6. Bob Katz prides himself on the great five star reviews and client testimonials his clients leave him online. He loves to provide great service to his clients and strives to make each one happy. He is willing to travel to meet his clients in their time of need and will go them if they cannot make it to a meeting with him. Bob understands that many Koreans are not adequately educated on the American legal system and want an attorney who can represent their needs. This is why Bob brings to bear his many years of strength and success in every case he handles. He has five litigators that can go to court and fight for his client’s rights, when the insurance companies treat them unfairly. Additionally, he employes many support staff to make sure his client’s matters are well cared for. Many of the claims paralegals and attorneys who eventually decide to work in the Korean Personal Injury field outside of Bob Katz’s personal injury practice in Maryland and Virginia were actually trained at Gordon Feinblatt under the tutelage and mentorship of Bob Katz, himself. There are several such lawyers out there who now compete with Bob Katz, who were at one time trained and supervised by him.
Can Talking on the Phone While Driving Make You Liable In a Maryland Car Accident Case?
A growing body of research supports the claim that talking on the phone while driving is dangerous, in large part because most people have difficulty dividing their attention between the cognitive demands of driving and those of a phone conversation. Simply put, talking on the phone uses some of the same brain space that driving does. However, in spite of knowing the dangers associated with cell phone use while driving, many drivers choose to use cell phones anyways. For example, in a 2011 poll by AT&T, 98 percent of drivers said that they understood the dangers of texting while driving but did it anyways.
Using a cell phone while driving can potentially be important under three different legal theories: negligence, contributory negligence and negligence per se.
Negligence, in the motor vehicle context, can be broadly defined as failing to take reasonable care while driving. A person who is injured in a car accident where the other driver was talking on their cell phone may be able to argue that, because of the dangers associated with cell phone use while driving, the other driver’s cell phone use is evidence of that he or she is guilty of negligence. An experienced Maryland personal injury attorney may be able to, through discovery or the deposition of witnesses, find evidence that the other driver was talking on their phone at the time of the accident.
If, on the other hand, it is the person in a car accident who is injured that was talking on the phone, the doctrine of contributory negligence is implicated. Maryland is one of only a few states that follows the doctrine of contributory negligence. Under contributory negligence, a person who brings a lawsuit, a plaintiff, cannot recover damages if he or she was at all negligent. This could mean that – even if the other driver was driving recklessly or negligently – a plaintiff who was talking on the phone while driving could be prevented from recovering damages.
Negligence per se is when the violation of a criminal law, such as a law prohibiting cell phone use, is introduced as evidence that a party was negligent in a civil case. In order to establish a claim for negligence per se, the harm that was suffered by the plaintiff must have been the type of harm that the statute was designed to protect from.
Cell Phone Laws in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
Maryland and the District of Columbia have both passed “cell phone laws.” Basically, these are laws that prohibit drivers from texting or talking on a handheld phone while driving. In Maryland, the new law went into effect on October 1, 2013, allowing police to stop any driver they see using a handheld wireless device while operating a motor vehicle. Virginia, on the other hand, allows talking on the phone while driving but prohibits emailing and texting.
In general, these laws are implemented to protect the drivers from the dangers of distracted driving. As such, there is a strong argument that violation of a cell phone statute is relevant to a civil claim of negligence. Although there is little Maryland law on point, a recent article published by the American Association for Justice offers an overview of how other states have treated the issue of cell phone laws and negligence per se. In several states with cell phone statutes, courts have ruled that evidence of violation of the statute is relevant and admissible. Even in states without cell phone statutes, courts have generally allowed evidence that a driver was talking on his or her cell phone in order to support a claim of negligence or defense of contributory negligence.
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In an Accident? Need a Rental? How can we Help?
Our firm understands the inconvenience and stress placed on an individual as a result of a motor vehicle accident. The last thing a victim wants to worry about is a replacement vehicle and how they will be able to perform their day to day tasks. Upon hiring our office, we will work closely with the insurance companies to set up a direct bill for a rental vehicle when necessary. A direct bill means that the insurance policy you are obtaining a rental through will pay the rental expenses directly that policy. In addition, our office will also advise you as to additional fees etc. that you may be presented with but are not necessary requirements. Our office agrees that our clients, should not be forced out of pocket expenses resulting from someone else’s negligence and we, therefore, assist with the property damage matters related to a claim.
What if I lost my job due to an accident and cannot work?
Most employers understand if you are unable to work due to a car accident when adequate communication is provided. We therefore encourage our clients to remain in communication daily with their employer’s to keep them informed of their rehabilitation progress. Not all employers are created equal, however.
If you do lose your job as a result of your injuries or inability to work, we may be able to help you recover lost wages for the period that you are disabled as well as for the hardship your job loss has caused you.
If you become permanently disabled or you have lost a portion of your earning capacity, we may be able to help you recover money for your loss in ability to earn to your previous potential.
Consult with a lawyer to discuss the options in your particular case.
What are the various kinds of motor vehicle insurance types in Maryland?
In Maryland every vehicle is supposed to carry at least minimum insurance coverage. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines and penalties. But is the minimum insurance really enough? Before you can determine whether or not you have ample coverage, you need to understand the various types of coverage.
Limited liability law requires minimum coverage of at $30,000 for bodily injury to one person, $60,000 bodily injury for each accident and $15,000 for property damage. These coverages are designed to protect you in the event you hurt someone else and need to compensate the person you injured.
Uninsured motorists coverage insurance compensates you for personal injury and property damage you suffered in an accident with an uninsured or hit-and-run driver. Where another driver strikes you and does not have sufficient coverage to make you whole, you would need to make a claim against this coverage.
Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance reimburses you for medical expenses and lost wages caused by the accident, regardless of who was at fault.
Physical damage coverage insurance pays for all types of vehicle damage such as theft, vandalism, flood or other criminal or weather related incident.
Collision coverage insurance pays for car repairs or worth of totaled vehicle regardless of who caused the accident.
Bodily injury liability insurance pays expenses and damages arising out of an auto accident lawsuit filed against you for personal injury.
Property damage liability insurance pays expenses and damages arising out of an auto accident lawsuit filed against you for property damage.
This list is not all exhaustive. In fact, the Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance can provide additional information and tips to purchasing adequate insurance. Failure to have the enough insurance could result in expensive repercussions. Not having adequate insurance could result in out-of-pocket expenses or even the cost of having to replace a vehicle that was damaged in an accident. It's is always a good idea to understand what your insurance options are and make sure you have the right kind and amount of insurance coverage.
What is a diminished value claim for property damage and how do I make one?
Can I use a cell phone while driving in Maryland?
Minor Drivers may not operate a cell phone at any time while driving under MD Code, Transportation § 21-1124.2, unless they are calling 9-11. This ban includes the usage of hands free or Bluetooth devices.
Adult drivers, may NOT use his/her hands to use a handheld telephone, other than to start or end a call, or to turn the telephone on or off, while the vehicle is in Motion. Read the Law: MD Code, Transportation § 21-1124.2
- 1. Maryland School Bus Drivers, Minors, or adult holder's of learner's permits or provisional licenses may not use electronic cell phones while driving except in the case of emergency. See MD Code, Transportation § 21-1124.2
- 2. Certain emergency and law enforcement personal are excluded from the reach of these laws in Maryland.
ALL MARYLAND DRIVERS may use handheld telephones for "emergency use." This presumably includes calling 9-11 to request police, hospital, fire department, or other emergency assistance, even while the vehicle is moving.