Germantown Personal Injury Lawyer
Our Germantown personal injury lawyers have practiced personal injury law in DC and Maryland for 70 years. With those decades of experience, we have become adapted to what clients need most in their cases. Our entire firm has a culture of responsiveness. On top of experience, we consider this essential in any top-performing business. We encourage questions. This is why our phones are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Also, you will receive your lawyer’s cell phone if anything important happens outside of regular business hours. This is because we know that changes in your case can happen anytime. The ability of your lawyer to react quickly can make or break the value of your case. Whether your case occurs due to negligence by a distracted driver or a drunk patron at a bar or restaurant, we are happy to discuss your case with you.
How do I know if I have a Valid Personal Injury Case?
You must identify each element of the applicable cause of actional injury case for a valid per. Most of the time, a personal injury case involves filing suit for negligence. But in other cases, we handle tension, too, and deserve attention.
Generally, this includes car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian, or slip-and-fall accidents. To adequately pursue a negligence claim, you must prove the four elements of duty: breach, causation, and damages by a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of the evidence means that something is more likely than not to have occurred. The first element is duty. To prove this, we must show the existence of a duty on the defendant’s part to conform to a specific standard of conduct to protect the plaintiff. While a duty is only owed to a foreseeable plaintiff, every driver on the road must maintain control of their vehicle and not collide with another car.
You can breach this duty by either act or omission. If a driver does not behave a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances would, this is a breach of the standard of care owed to other drivers. The most obvious example is when a driver hits another vehicle or pedestrian. That breaches the standard duty of care to maintain reasonable control of your car. Next, we prove the final two elements, causation and damages. This is typically less of an issue. Legally, we must prove that the breach of duty caused your injuries. In practice, we require a doctor’s record or testimony stating that, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the motor vehicle accident is what caused the injuries you are receiving treatment for. We will explain the damages in more detail below.
For a Germantown personal injury lawyer to establish a prima facie case for battery, there are three elements we must prove. We must confirm a harmful or offensive contact to the plaintiff’s person or something legally connected to the person, intent, and causation. Because the battery is an intentional tort, the purpose is a necessary element to prove. This is a significant factor in distinguishing negligence from a battery. Most of the battery cases we handle occur in bars or nightclubs. Whether the tortfeasor is a bouncer, security guard, or other patron at the bar, battery is a common occurrence every night. The exciting quirk about Maryland tort law and battery is the law punishes intentional conduct. Because a battery is an intentional tort, you may be able to recover punitive damages in your battery lawsuit.
Punitive damages act differently than other damages. Most other damages behave as compensation for damages. For example, lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering damages are all awarded to make you whole. On the other hand, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for malice, which, in Germantown, includes intentional conduct such as battery.
Calculating Punitive Damages
A court will calculate punitive damages by considering the amount of compensatory damages. While you are never automatically entitled to punitive damages, courts treat punitive damages as a multiplier between one and nine. The more egregious the defendant’s conduct, the higher the number will be on that scale. Then, the multiplier is multiplied by the amount of compensatory damages in the case. As one might imagine, this can result in a substantially more lucrative recovery. And this makes sense. Of course, someone should be able to lose more civilly if the action is intentional. Mistakes happen, but a plaintiff still needs to be made whole. But when the action is deliberate, the law’s desire to punish and deter becomes crucial.
Wrongful death cases are technically cases brought by close family members for damages. This is independent of the survival action that the decedent’s estate brings. Under the Maryland statute, only a parent, spouse, or child of the decedent may pursue a wrongful death claim. The general measure of recovery is the financial injury, or money injury, brought onto the plaintiff. This allows for recovery from loss of support, companionship, etc.
What Factors Determine the Strength of My Case?
Once we establish liability, your case is made stronger when your damages increase. The more damages you have, the more the defendant will be willing to settle. When a defendant knows they already owe you a great deal of damages, they do not want to pay more in legal fees fighting a losing battle. So, what increases your damages? Your damages are based on medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The infographic below demonstrates this more colorfully.
The more any category of damages increases, the more compensation you can recover. For example, if your medical expenses skyrocket and you owe medical providers $100,000, your case should be worth at least that amount. Of course, your doctors must relate your treatment to the injury in question within a reasonable degree of medical certainty. But if the causal link is clear and the defense cannot prove the treatment is excessive, that is fully compensable damage in Germantown. Could you speak with your Germantown personal injury attorney for details on your case?
Another vital factor in determining the value of your case is the tangible element. If you are in a car, for example, a jury will be a lot more persuaded if your vehicle suffers a total loss due to substantial physical damage. On the other hand, if your car only suffers minor scratches, it will be harder to substantiate a lot of medical expenses for what seems like such a minor accident. This principle applies to other types of cases, such as batteries. Additionally, statements the defendant makes at the scene of an accident that bystanders witness and can later testify to in court can strengthen your case. While a layperson may think this sounds like hearsay, remember that there are 23 hearsay exceptions under the federal rules of evidence.
What if the Tortfeasor Does not Have Insurance?
If the tortfeasor does not have insurance, you still have options. Generally, the next best option is to use your insurance. If you have coverage, then you should have uninsured motorist coverage. This is only available if the adverse party has no insurance or is uninsured. An alternative option worth mentioning is the right to sue the tortfeasor in their capacity. For most people, if they do not have insurance, they will not have sufficient assets to pay a judgment, and thus, it would not be worth pursuing in court. We will run asset checks on defendants if this is in question. Another possibility in a similar vein is if a person or business has insurance, but the insurer denies coverage for this particular case.
This is most common in cases involving intentional torts such as assaults or batteries. For example, if a bar does not have insurance for a battery by a bouncer, it is likely still worthwhile to sue the restaurant directly and have the bar deal with hiring legal counsel itself. Your Germantown personal injury lawyer can explain how this works in more detail based on the facts of your case.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company Without My Germantown Injury Lawyer?
In general, you should only speak with the insurance company on either side of the case with permission from your Germantown personal injury lawyer. The insurance companies are masters at getting statements on record that you do not even believe. They will lead you into making claims that undermine the value of your case. But they can word these questions so that you may not fully realize what they are doing. Once you retain a Germantown injury lawyer, we immediately send letters of representation to all insurance companies in the case. This informs them that if they want to speak to you, the client, they must first contact us. If they have a legitimate reason to talk to you, we will communicate with you beforehand and give you an idea of what to expect.
How do Legal Fees Work with a Germantown Injury Lawyer?
Our legal fees look the same as most other personal injury lawyers nationwide. We, like most others, operate on a contingent fee basis. This means our legal fee is contingent on us winning your case. If we do not win your case, we do not charge a legal fee, even if we put in work hours. This works well because it enables people who otherwise might not be able to afford a standard legal retainer, which includes an upfront cost from seeking justice for their injuries. It also allows you to contact us as much as you want. We can answer any questions or concerns you may have throughout the process and not have to worry about being charged in six-minute increments the way lawyers in other fields of the law do.
Our fee is one-third of the recovery if we settle your case before filing suit. If we have to file a suit, which occurs in less than half of our cases, our fee increases to 40%. This is because our costs have significantly increased. Fortunately, the costs for defendants also increase by having to prepare for litigation, which is why this is the less frequent option. Because you only have to pay if we win your case, we advance all costs on your behalf. So, the fees at trial for expert witnesses, filing costs, and others are all covered by our firm. We only receive reimbursement from the recovery if we prevail on your case.
What if the Other Party Disputes Liability?
The adverse party can successfully dispute liability for several reasons. First, Germantown and all of Maryland is a contributory negligence jurisdiction. You cannot win a negligence case if you are even 1% negligent. Of course, there are exceptions, but they are rare in personal injury cases. A defendant can also dispute liability by undermining the evidence we put forth. Remember, we must prove each element of our cause of action. All it takes is an inability to confirm a component for the case to fall apart. If the defense can convince a judge that our evidence is inadmissible under the rules of evidence, we may be unable to prove a given element.
Beyond the component of tort law, a defendant may try to poke holes in the civil procedure we use or the evidence we put forth. Many motions at the disposal of either legal team can distract from the case’s merits. Fortunately, our experienced Germantown personal injury lawyers are well-versed in handling these cases and are familiar with the maneuvers defense teams have at their disposal.
Contact a Germantown Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have any questions about the information or think you have a viable claim, you can contact our office today for a free consultation.