With hundreds of thousands of motorists on the road in and around the District of Columbia (Washington, DC), Maryland, and Virginia, car accidents happen with unfortunate regularity. With driving being an everyday occurence for many people, drivers often become too comfortable behind the wheel. Whether it be texting, drunk driving, or overall exhaustion, drivers have become complacent in risking the well being of everyone else on the road. When this happens, we quickly learn why driving is one of the most dangerous modes of transportation. The vast majority of these collisions could be avoided if drivers showed a reasonable amount of caution. All too often, however, the rules of the road are ignored, and serious crashes occur. A motorist, passenger, or pedestrian who has been hurt in a traffic accident caused by a driver’s carelessness should not hesitate to consult a personal injury lawyer who can help them pursue compensation. Knowledgeable, experienced, Washington, D.C. auto accident attorney Roger Gelb, is here to assist you with protecting your legal rights following a car or truck crash as he's done over 10,000 times in different types of personal injury cases. His boundless experience, along with the help of Gelb & Gelb, P.C., has earned compensation in excess of $100,000,000.00 (one hundred million dollars) for his clients.Data to Consider
Maryland: According to the MVA, there were 92,518 reported car crashes in Maryland alone. Of those accidents, 29,213 (31.6% of total crashes) resulted in injuries.
Virginia: In 2015, 125,800 car crashes were reported and 65,029 total people were injured, according to dmv.virginia.gov.
United States: According to the NHTSA, there were 35,092 fatal car accidents in the United States in 2015.
Evidently, there's an alarmingly high number of car accidents everyday. In Maryland, Virginia, and especially at certain intersections in Washington D.C., there's a number of things that can cause serious accidents. Here's a list of a few:
- Speeding/reckless driving
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Texting while driving
- Alcohol use
- Drug use
- Overall tiredness
- Running a red light
Due to reckless driving, hazardous road conditions, alcohol, etcetera, there are countless causes for the car accidents that happen everyday. With the frequency of car accidents being so high, it's important to know how to react. Even before you make the call to a seasoned lawyer, you have to know what to do in the minutes following your car accident.What to do after an Auto Accident
- Get their driver's license, name and address, and their insurance card information. While a police report may be helpful, ultimately, it isn't necessary as it's inadmissible in court in most cases because it's hearsay. If the other driver isn't cooperating or flees the scene, a lawyer can often get necessary information from the license plate number (with one notable exception in the DC area - Virginia).
- When discussing injuries with the insurance companies, it's important to remember that you may not start feeling soreness, usually in your neck and spine, until the next day; the treatment for these injuries can take weeks. So, be aware of the insurance company asking you as soon as possible how you are feeling and remember not to give a response until at least the next day or after consulting an experienced attorney.
- Hire an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The other party's insurance company will act like its your friend and try to tell you that a lawyer isn't necessary. However, it's worth remembering that the insurance companies are business's and will take advantage of you by settling as soon as possible. In turn, you'll end up with a lot less money in your pocket. If you do decide to consult with a personal injury law firm and it's decided your case isn't strong enough to move forward with, it's of absolutely no cost to you.
For more specific questions on what to do after an accident, click here.What not to do after a Car Accident
It may seem almost counter-intuitive to write about as it may inadvertently plant these ideas into your head. However, avoiding these all too common mistakes can save you thousands of dollars of compensation down the line. As previously mentioned, it's extremely important to not contact the other party's insurance company until discussing your case with a lawyer. People sometimes feel the need to do this because they're worried they may not be covered and are looking for peace of mind. Considering the stakes of the situation, it's understandable why you may panic. But, by doing this, you're giving the insurance company the opportunity to get a recorded, and therefore documented, statement from you that can make winning your case much more difficult. Keep in mind, often times after experiencing a car accident, it's the neck and back that receive the bulk of the damage. The catch is that you generally won't experience soreness until the next day; but by that point, you've already waived your right to say you're hurt as you'd be contradicting yourself. That soreness can persist and you want to make sure you're compensated properly for your pain and suffering. Furthermore, don't worry about whether or not the other party is insured; as long as you're insured, you are going to be covered for the loss. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact us.Hold a Careless Driver Accountable for an Auto Accident
Depending on the harm suffered by an accident victim, damages in a personal injury case arising from a car crash may include payment for time off work and loss of future wages, reimbursement for medical expenses that were the reasonable and necessary consequences of the injuries resulting from the accident, and compensation for pain and suffering. If the victim was married at the time of the accident, their spouse may also assert a related claim for loss of consortium.
In proving that a defendant in an automobile accident case was negligent, the plaintiff must show four things. First, there must have been a legal duty of care owed to the plaintiff by the defendant, which usually consists of the obligation to drive safely. Next, the defendant must have breached that duty in some way, such as by texting while driving, failing to yield at an intersection, speeding, or driving while intoxicated. The third step involves proving that the defendant’s carelessness caused the accident and that it was a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. Finally, the plaintiff must have incurred damages that are reasonably quantifiable, which may be any of those discussed above or others.
While fault sometimes is straightforward to establish after an auto accident, it may not always be obvious. There may be situations in which a defendant argues that the victim also handled their vehicle carelessly and partly contributed to the crash. When this happens, an experienced personal injury attorney like Roger Gelb understands what is at stake, since a successful argument of contributory negligence may prevent a victim from receiving compensation. He can carefully investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and gather evidence to prove that the defendant was completely at fault so that the victim’s right to compensation is preserved.Is my Case Worth Pursuing?
Ultimately, it's impossible to write with certainty a set of guidelines because every case is different. For example, even if there is negligence displayed by the other party, it may not be worthwhile to pursue the claim as the costs may exceed compensation. The biggest factor to look for is whether or not there are damages; and if so, how severe? As always, it's smart to contact an attorney to discuss the case and decide how strong your case is. If we decide to move forward with your case, you'll be instructed on the proper steps to take. If it's decided the case isn't strong enough, naturally, there would be no fee due our office.
Click here for a more in-depth video on whether or not a case is worth pursuing.What's my Case Worth?
This is a tough question to answer, no matter how much you experience you have. Even if it's understood that the other driver is at fault, if the plaintiff never goes to the doctor, the case really has no value. Or, if you waits, there's less value than if you went right away. Then, you may skip treatment in the future, or maybe you need surgery. There could be other factors involved such as previous injuries. The point is, because there are so many variables to consider, it's impossible to predict the value of a case in the beginning. Once you've completed treatment however, we can look at a number of different things: where the accident happened, whether there is clear liability, the gravity of the injuries, and where the case would have to be filed (where the client resides). Once these are determined, we can start to get an idea. At this point, you have to decide whether you want to accept an offer of settlement or if you want to try the case, which has its own set of factors to consider.How Much Will This Cost Me?
This answer is dependent on how we proceed with your case. If you are unsure of whether or not you have a case and just want to ask a couple of questions, feel free to contact us for a free consultation; the only way we collect money is if you receive your due compensation. As with many other personal injury firms in the Metropolitan area, we will take your case on a contingent basis. This means if we settle your case prior to filing suit, we take 1/3 of the gross recovery. However, if the case is litigated (which is uncommon), the fee is 40%. Again, if there is no recovery, there is no fee.
Regarding costs, remember an attorney is permitted to advance necessary costs on behalf of the client. For example, if there is a police report, our firm will request the firm and pay the fee to obtain a copy. In the District of Columbia, the fee for a police report is $3.00. That cost will ultimately be deduced from the client's net. Naturally, we make every effort to keep the costs of pursuing an injury claim to a minimum. However, certain documents, including hospital records and bills, the police report and certain other reports may be necessary to prosecute the case. It is unethical for a lawyer to tell a client that if there is no recovery in their case, that the client is not responsible for necessary costs.
Keep in mind, if you can identify the at-fault party by way of a license plate, you may be able to obtain the necessary insurance and personal information necessary to pursue the liability claim against that person or entity from the issuing state's department of motor vehicles, without resorting to an uninsured-motorist claim. However, an increasing number of jurisdictions nationally, including Virginia in this area, no longer provide any personal information or even insurance information without a subpoena (which requires litigation and additional expense).Retain an Auto Accident Attorney in Washington, D.C., Maryland, or Virginia
Many people take a “wait and see” approach following an accident, hoping that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will do the right thing and make a fair settlement offer. Generally, this is a misguided assumption. Insurance companies and those who work for them are determined to pay out the smallest possible settlement in order to keep profits high for the company and its shareholders, regardless of whether the settlement appropriately compensates a victim. Experienced Washington, D.C. auto accident lawyer Roger Gelb and the team at Gelb & Gelb, P.C. has settled in excess of $100,000,000.00 (one hundred million dollars) and knows the tactics that insurance companies use to create delays and minimize payouts in personal injury cases. Call us at (202) 331-7227 or contact us online to talk about how we can put our experience to work in building your case. We represent people throughout the District of Columbia as well as Maryland and Virginia, and we can also assist you if you need a medical malpractice attorney or representation in another personal injury claim. To return to the homepage, click here.