Filing a Car Accident Claim in Prince George’s County

The first step that an individual should take following a car accident in Prince George’s County is to seek representation from a car accident attorney who will file a claim on their behalf. Filing a claim means establishing representation with the attorney who will communicate with the insurance company by way of a letter stating that the attorney is representing the injured party. Filing a claim is establishing with the insurance company that the injured party is represented by counsel, that all communications should be through counsel and that anything that has preceded representation, by way of any communications or documents that have been sought are revoked, and any evidence that they may have concerning the accident be preserved.

Investigating a Car Accident Claim

An attorney will send their investigator to take pictures of the accident scene that would be helpful and to take pictures of the vehicles wherever they have been taken to for purposes of memorializing the property damage, which can be used later regarding any issue about how the accident occurred. The attorney will also interview witnesses and collect any other evidence necessary. The attorney will monitor the medical treatment that the injured party is receiving, obtain the medical bills and records, and provide them at the appropriate time to the insurance company by way of a demand package.

Negotiating with the Insurance Company

The attorney will negotiate with the insurance company in terms of presenting a demand package with the proof of liability and the proof of damages of medical bills, lost wages, and the claim for physical pain and mental anguish, and any other harms and losses. They negotiate with the company in terms of maximizing a recovery short of litigation, and if the case can’t be settled, they pursue the case by filing a lawsuit in court.

Suing or Settling

Once a person files an action, they are not required to continue suing the defendant. It is completely up to the injured party as to whether they wish to continue pursuing the claim. Filing an action or a claim does not affect the right to negotiate outside of court and negotiations can happen at any time. There are opportunities along the way to negotiate a settlement. There are opportunities along the way to enter into mediation to try to reach a resolution short of going to a trial. Even after a lawsuit is filed, there are many opportunities for the parties to attempt to negotiate a resolution of the case by way of settlement.

Filing With the Courts

Accident cases can be filed in different courts in Prince George’s County and in Maryland, generally. Filing a lawsuit takes place in either the Circuit Court for PG County in Maryland, or the District Court of Maryland for PG County. There are different factors that go into which courthouse the lawsuit is filed and every case is filed pursuant to a complaint against the at-fault party.

The lowest level court to file a case in is the District Court. Those are for claims under $30,000. If they want to restrict the right of the defendant to be able to request a jury trial, they file a claim for $15,000 and under, and the defendant does not have the right to request a trial. Circuit Courts are for claims in excess of $5,000. There’s concurrent jurisdiction with District Court and Circuit Court, between $5,000 and $30,000, and exclusive jurisdiction in the Circuit Court for claims over $30,000.

Preparing the Claim

Preparing the complaint requires a strong knowledge of the pertinent facts and parties involved in the case, so that a brief and concise statement as to what occurred can be prepared and presented to the court pursuant to the court’s rules. Every complaint must identify the parties involved and present a clear cause of action.

Client Involvement

The client is involved in the claim filing process significantly. They are the main source of information for the complaint. Therefore, it’s important for the client to have an open dialogue of communication with his or her attorney, so that the attorney can obtain the necessary information to include in a complaint to be filed in court.

District vs. Federal Court

The one benefit of filing in District Court is that the rules allow the case to proceed by submitting medical records, reports, and bills instead of requiring a doctor to have to testify in court. This allows the diagnosis and the cost of treatment to be submitted through medical reports and bills instead of the testimony of a physician. In Circuit Court, it is a requirement to have medical testimony to establish the care, treatment, the medical condition, fairness, reasonableness, necessity of treatment and the bills incurred for that treatment.

It is also possible to file an accident claim in federal court in Maryland. Federal court jurisdiction is invoked if the plaintiff and defendant are residents from different states. If both are from different states, but the accident occurs in Maryland, that is a basis under diversity jurisdiction for a case to be filed in federal court. If the defendant is from a different state than the plaintiff, who is from Maryland, even though the case can be filed in state court, the defendant has the right to move that case to federal court because of diversity of jurisdiction. Those are generally the courts in which a car accident that occurs in PG County can be filed.

Importance of an Attorney

It is important for an injured person to retain the services of a Prince George’s County personal injury litigation attorney because the attorney will have the knowledge and experience in dealing with claims in that particular jurisdiction. This will help to maximize the recovery on behalf of the client.