Car accidents are unfortunately a common and expensive part of life. As such, there are a few immediate questions that come into most drivers’ minds after a collision:
- Is anyone hurt?
- How do we get people to safety?
- Who was at fault?
- How much is this going to cost?
In best-case scenarios, no one is hurt and it is a situation of damaged vehicles. Once people are moved out of traffic and over to a safe spot, the big question will be who was responsible, or mostly responsible, for the collision. Determining what happened usually relies on witness accounts. In most cases, police will seek out information from witnesses.
What if There Are No witnesses?
In Washington DC and Maryland, car accident laws are complex and, in many cases, people involved in a collision will be simply turning to their own insurance to file a claim for damages and medical expenses, so the role of liability in determining the claim award may not be an issue. However, there are exceptions to this no-fault insurance guideline.
Steps to Take Following a Car Accident
Witnesses, particularly if they are not passengers in the vehicles involved, are crucially important in a car accident. After all, one driver’s word is unlikely to mean more than another’s following a collision; both will be in the process of deflecting blame.
However, there are not always witnesses to a car accident.
There are steps you can take to help build your case for what happened. Here are a few:
- Call the police. A lot of times, people are hesitant to call the police in these situations because they may fear being found at fault or partially at fault. However, the police will be critical in helping determine what happened, and a police report will be needed for your insurance claim anyway.
- Check camera footage. Check for security cameras, traffic cameras, and red-light cameras in the area. There may be footage available of the accident itself.
- Take your own pictures and video. Use your cell phone to take pictures and or video of injuries, vehicle damage, the accident scene, and damage to the surrounding area.
Washington DC and Maryland Follow Pure Contributory Negligence
There are few states that follow the pure contributory negligence approach for car accidents, but in both Maryland and Washington DC, these are the rules that guide compensation following a vehicle collision.
The systematic approach of pure contributory negligence is that if a person is found to be even one percent at fault for the accident, they cannot recoup compensation from the driver found to be mostly at fault.
It makes it difficult for people involved in a car accident to gain compensation from the other party involved. Only three other states, Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia, follow this approach.
For those involved in a collision in Washington DC, which combines the contributory negligence laws with no-fault insurance, that means most often, drivers involved in a car accident will turn to their own insurance for compensation for medical care, vehicle damage, and lost wages.
However, depending on the extent of injuries from the accident, and if the personal injury protection (PIP) funds in your insurance are exhausted before the bills are paid, you may want to file a claim against the other driver.
The exceptions in Washington DC laws that allow an injured driver to combine their no-fault benefits and file a claim against the other driver are as follows:
- Your medical expenses exceed your insurance policy’s PIP coverage.
- Your injuries involve permanent impairment or disfigurement, or disability lasting at least 180 days.
In Maryland, getting compensation following a car accident is even more challenging. Maryland combines the pure contributory negligence method with a fault or tort system when it comes to financial responsibility following an accident. That means that the person at fault for the accident is liable for the expenses that result, up to their policy limits.
This makes it difficult for the person who may be as little as one percent at fault. The three options for someone who is injured or damaged in a Maryland car accident are:
- Filing a claim with your own car insurance carrier if the loss is covered by your policy.
- Filing a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
Washington DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Advocate for Clients in Word-against-Word Car Accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in which the other driver will not admit fault, reach out to the Washington DC car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our skilled legal team will thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident and help you get the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington, DC, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, and Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.