Car insurers do not want to pay full compensation for a crash victim’s damages. That is why they often look for reasons to assign blame to the victim, even if the victim is blameless.
This is particularly true in Maryland, which is one of a handful of states with a harsh contributory negligence law. Maryland prohibits injury victims from recovering any compensation if they are found even one percent at fault. This applies no matter how severe your injuries are.
Unfortunately, crash victims are often ready to believe they are partially to blame for a crash, even when that might not be true. Below, we discuss valid reasons why a victim could be partially at fault.
However, if the insurance company’s claims do not make sense to you, and you think the other driver is clearly the one who is entirely at fault, you should contact a Maryland car crash lawyer. The experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl have assisted numerous crash victims in seeking compensation. We have a proven track record of recovering millions on behalf of our clients.
We do not charge upfront fees and our lawyers do not get paid unless our clients get paid.
Fault for a crash is assigned based on someone’s negligent actions. Negligence is a legal theory that refers to the failure to uphold a duty of care through action or inaction. A duty of care is a legal obligation to act as a reasonable person would in a similar situation.
Crash victims must prove the breach of a duty of care led directly to their injuries. If they can prove this, they may be eligible for compensation. However, the insurance company will be looking to prove the victim breached a duty of care and is partially at fault.
Here are some common examples of negligent actions that could lead to a car crash:
If you did anything on that list or something else that was negligent, you may be partially or fully to blame for a crash.
Sometimes both drivers involved in a crash did something careless. For example, maybe one driver was speeding while another failed to stay in a lane or check blind spots before changing lanes. If you were rear-ended while making a turn because you did not use your turn signal, you may be partially at fault. The other driver may have been tailgating, which means you would share fault for the crash.
If you got hit by a car while you were in the car’s blind spot, it could be argued you were partially at fault for the crash. However, drivers are supposed to check their blind spots before changing lanes.
One of the most important questions to ask in these situations is: Is there anything I could have done to avoid a crash?
If there is nothing you could have done, the other driver is likely 100 percent to blame, despite what the insurance company may say.
There are legitimate reasons why a crash victim could be partially at fault for a crash. If the victim broke traffic laws or operated his or her vehicle in an unsafe manner before the crash, he or she may bear some of the blame for what happened.
Insurance companies like to assign fault to victims because of things that have nothing to do with the cause of the crash. For example, driving with an expired tag is illegal, but it does not cause crashes. This should not affect your ability to recover compensation for your damages.
Driving with an expired license is illegal and there may be severe penalties for doing it. However, this is unlikely to cause you to be assigned fault for the crash. Your license had nothing to do with the cause of the crash.
It is also important to note Maryland is not a no-fault state. In a no-fault state, victims first seek compensation from their own insurance company. Those who drive on an expired license in a no-fault state may have trouble recovering compensation. Their insurance policy may become invalid if they are caught driving with an expired license, based on the wording of the policy.
That said, many insurance policies are still valid if the victim was caught driving with an expired license. In many cases, the insurance policy would only lapse if the person had an expired license at the time he or she bought or renewed the policy.
You do not need to say much to the insurance company about the crash, other than where and when it happened. You could unintentionally hurt your claim by saying too much.
For example, statements like these may seem harmless, but they could be harmful:
Even though these may be true statements, they could be used to assign partial fault to you. For example, saying you were in a rush could be interpreted as an admission you were speeding or being a reckless driver. Saying you did not see the other driver makes it sound like you were not paying attention.
Car insurance companies have significant experience twisting the words of crash victims to assign them partial blame for a crash.
It is important to contact a lawyer and allow him or her to deal with the insurance company on your behalf. That way, you do not run the risk of saying something that could be used against you by the insurance company.
For more than three decades, our attorneys have been pursuing and recovering millions in compensation for personal injury victims.
If you have questions after suffering an injury in a car crash, we are here to help. An initial consultation is free. We can discuss what happened and if you may have a valid case. After that, if we determine you may have a valid case, you can decide whether to hire our firm to represent you.
There are no upfront fees and no fees while working on your case.
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