Maryland Pedestrian Accident Investigations

After a pedestrian accident occurs, there are many legal processes that an individual must go through in order to determine how damages are recovered. There are a number of important steps in a pedestrian accident investigation that an individual must pursue, which can be done effectively with the use of an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can craft a strong defense that can aid in ensuring the maximum amount of recovery for your case.

Determining Insurance Coverage

The first important step that must take place in a pedestrian accident investigation is determining the conditions of insurance. It is important for an individual to know what their policy limits are. Assuming that a lawsuit is being filed against the defendant, it is important to know what the defendant’s or defendants’ policy limits are in order to know how much coverage is available to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries and damages.

In Maryland, the plaintiff’s attorney can write a letter to the insurance adjuster, and the insurance adjuster must disclose the defendant’s policy limits. This is pursuant to the Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.

The Discovery Phase

As far as the dynamics of the crash, it is important to know exactly how the accident happened.  That is all part of the discovery phase, an essential important step to take following a pedestrian accident.  During this phase of the case, the plaintiff’s counsel may send written questions to the defense, called interrogatories, and the other side will formulate answers to those questions about their version of how the accident happened. Those questions are answered, and the answers are sent to the plaintiff. The defendant also propounds written interrogatories on the plaintiff about the plaintiff’s version of the accident, injuries, treatment, permanency, et cetera, which the plaintiff must answer.

Oral Discovery Process

The oral discovery process is when the defendant wants to take the client’s deposition. At a discovery deposition, the defendant’s attorney asks the client a series of detailed questions relating to:

  • How the accident happened
  • The individual claimed injuries
  • The individual’s work duties
  • The amount of lost wages
  • The amount of time missed from work
  • Permanency
  • Prior accidents or injuries
  • Continued limitations or problems
  • Past criminal convictions

These questions are often more detailed than those asked as part of written discovery. If the defendant is contesting liability, the defense attorney can probably also ask the plaintiff detailed questions about how the accident happened, witnesses, conversations, admissions of fault, and other relevant factors.

Requests for Production of Documents

Each side can also request documents from the other side, such as copies of all medical records and bills, photographs of vehicular damage, photographs of the scene, photographs of injuries, and lost wage documentation. These are called Requests for Production of Documents.

Generally speaking, if a picture of the defendant’s car or the plaintiff’s car is produced as part of an initial investigation or during discovery, and the picture shows a lot of property damage, that is usually favorable to the plaintiff’s case.

In the mind of the insurance company, more property damage often supports more severe injuries. Requests for Admissions are another type of written discovery typically used in motor vehicle accident or pedestrian accident cases.

Important Liability Factors

A further important step in a pedestrian accident investigation is determining liability. In cases where liability is contested, the plaintiff’s attorney can typically depose the defendant to try to ascertain the defendant’s version of the accident and to get the defendant’s side of story. Witnesses to the accident and health care providers may also be deposed during the litigation phase of the case.

Facts that an attorney can look for in pedestrian accident cases that might be unique or more prevalent are the basic traffic laws with regard to crosswalks, pedestrian crossings, texting or distracted driving, contributory negligence, assumption of risk, and the last clear chance doctrine.  While these types of things can be factors in any case involving a motor vehicle, they are especially prevalent in pedestrian and bicycle accident cases in Maryland.

Benefits of a Lawyer

A seasoned pedestrian accident attorney is somebody who has been dealing with these types of cases for a long time.  Pedestrian accidents are unique in the fact that there are more serious types of injuries to deal with, more traumatic types of injuries that require extensive treatment, and oftentimes, injuries that do not manifest themselves for a while until after the accident happened, such as traumatic brain injuries.  This involves a lengthier discovery process, more complicated depositions, and more complex settlements and trials.

Potential clients need somebody who is experienced, specifically, in the area of Maryland law involving motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents.  An attorney can know how the insurance company operates, the kinds red flags adjusters look for, and the kinds of arguments they typically advance in order to reduce or limit offers, like gaps in treatment or contributory negligence arguments and other potential defenses utilized. This also includes knowing what adjusters are going to look for in medical records to try and diminish offers.  An attorney can know how these adjusters operate.

An attorney who has been doing this type of work for a long time may also know what venues in Maryland are going to be most favorable for plaintiff cases and which are going to be unfavorable.  For example, if the attorney has a choice of venue as to where to file a case, they can know where to file the case in order to maximize the chances of obtaining a good settlement, judgment, or jury verdict, as the case may be.