Filing a Car Accident Claim in Maryland

Filing a claim with the insurance company means sending the insurance adjuster a specials package, or a demand package.  A lawyer can submit a specials (demand) package to the insurance adjuster on the injured party’s behalf.  The specials package is not submitted until after the client has finished all of his/her treatment, and the package usually includes a cover letter containing a demand amount and which delineates the amounts of damages claimed, such as medicals, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.  Medical records, bills, physical therapy records, and lost wage documentation are all attached.  The Maryland car accident attorney will also need to obtain any missing medical treatment records/bills and submit them to the adjuster in due course (i.e. if not sent with the initial demand letter).

Initial Settlement Offer

Upon review of the demand package, the adjuster may accept or deny liability.  If the adjuster accepts liability, an initial settlement offer might be put on the table.  This initial settlement offer is usually very low and does not represent what the case is actually worth.  Oftentimes, the negotiations between the plaintiff’s lawyer and the adjuster go back and forth for many months until the parties either settle or reach a stalemate.  At that point, the plaintiff’s attorney will file a lawsuit in the district or circuit court, depending upon the value of the case and the amount of damages being claimed by the plaintiff.

In Court

What happens then is that the case is in the court system.  A copy of the lawsuit is typically forwarded to the adjuster and then what happens is the insurance adjuster refers the case to house counsel or to a private attorney or law firm who then files an Answer on behalf of the defendant.  The case then goes through the written and oral discovery process and ultimately settles or proceeds to trial.  Most motor vehicle cases are settled before ever going to trial.  Even once a trial date is set, a case can settle up to and sometimes even on the day of trial.

Statute of Limitations

At this juncture, you also have to be aware of the statute of limitations.  In Maryland, you have 3 years from the date of injury to file suit.  After that time period expires, a person is forever barred from bringing suit.  In other words, if you file suit the day after the statute expires, you will be barred from receiving any recovery.

Reptilian Trial Tactic

One trial tactic used in motor vehicle accident cases is called the reptilian trial tactic.  Basically, this tactic involves presenting a trial out of order.  Rather than calling the plaintiff first to the stand and proceeding with the case that way, the reptilian trial tactic involves presenting other evidence first, such as witnesses, healthcare providers, experts, etc., and then calling the client to testify at the end of the plaintiff’s case-in-chief.

Also, rather than have the client sit there with the lawyer for the entire trial, which could take many days, the client is kept outside the courtroom, not sitting there during that entire period of time. This relies on the theory that if the client is not in the courtroom, the jury does not have the opportunity to observe the client or “get used to” the client’s being there.  Rather, the jury can concentrate on the evidence that’s being presented, whether it is other witnesses testimony or an expert testimony.

There’s kind of a theory that under normal trial circumstances, the longer the client is in the courtroom, the longer the jury members then have the opportunity to observe and get used to the client – allowing them time to make judgements about the defendant on sight such as the individual does not appear injured, or does not deserve much award money.