Personal Injury FAQ

Please click on the questions below to view their answers:

After a car accident, how is responsibility determined?

Often times, an in-depth investigation is involved to determine who is the at-fault party. The at-fault party is the one deemed to be responsible for the accident. Some case, such as a rear-end collision, are fairly simple. In some cases, witnesses may not be necessary. Often times the at-fault party will admit his or her responsibility in causing the accident. However, there are times when witnesses need to be interviewed and then possibly subpoenaed for litigation purposes to determine the at-fault driver. The attorneys at Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates (SZA), P.A. have access to trained investigators which include former police officers and/or State Troopers to help gather evidence to have support as to the identification of the at-fault driver.

What is personal injury protection (PIP)?

PIP is often referred to as “no fault” coverage. PIP is insurance that you pay on your policy to provide payment of medical bills and lost wages for anyone injured while driving or being a passenger in your vehicle. PIP can be utilized by an individual regardless of the determination of the at-fault driver. Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates (SZA), P.A. strives to notify the PIP provider immediately that payment should not come out of the PIP funds to pay medical bills until any lost wages are paid. Lost wages are generally paid at 85% and are then not taxable, but it is advisable to check with your tax advisor concerning this issue. Our Firm does not take a percentage of any lost wages recovered within the PIP claim. Since PIP coverage is considered “no fault,” your insurance rate should not go up by initiating a PIP claim. PIP can provide anywhere from $2,500 to approximately $10,000 for medical bills and/or lost wages.

What is a slip and fall claim?

When someone slips and falls due to the negligence of another party, that person may have a slip and fall claim. Most often these claims are generated in commercial establishments, such as supermarket or restaurant. To be successful, a Plaintiff must usually prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the owner of the property had notice or knowledge of the condition, such as a spilled gallon of milk, and failed to clean it up and rectify it within what is considered a reasonable amount of time. In addition, it may be considered assumption of the risk if the injured party knowingly encounters the dangerous condition. In that case, the claim may not be sustainable.

If I feel injured as a result of the accident, should I obtain medical treatment?

In a majority of cases, immediately after the accident, the client is not brought by ambulance to a hospital. Instead, the client is brought home by a friend or family member and the following day experiences pain through their body in any given area. It is important to obtain prompt medical attention so that injuries are documented as close to the accident date as possible. It is also important to receive prompt medical attention so that the injuries sustained as a result of the accident are not further exacerbated. Large gaps in time from the date of the accident to when one is treated are one of the key points that insurance adjusters and insurance companies’ attorneys argue when litigating personal injury cases. The attorneys at Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates (SZA), P.A. strive to refer to competent treatment providers if necessary.

If the at-fault driver is uninsured, how may I collect?

Often times the at-fault driver is either not licensed, not insured, or even illegally in the country. In addition, often times the at-fault driver flees the scene and his or her identification cannot be determined. When this occurs, the injured party should look to his or her policy to see if they have uninsured/underinsured coverage. Nowadays, this form of coverage is crucial, and every driver should have this type of coverage to help guard against not being able to recover from an at-fault driver without insurance or an at-fault driver who has not been identified. The attorneys at Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates (SZA), P.A. will review your own policy and declaration page to determine if you can recover in such a situation from your own insurance company.

Do I have to pay for representation in my personal injury claim?

The personal injury matters that Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates (SZA), P.A. accept for representation is generally on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney is paid a percentage, usually 33.33%, of any recovery obtained from the at-fault driver. If there is no recovery, the attorney is not paid a fee.

How long can I wait to file a law suit against the at-fault driver?

Maryland generally provides a three (3) year statute of limitations, or time with which an action must be filed in court from the date of the accident. If the three (3) year time limit falls on a weekend or holiday, then the statute of limitations would fall on the following court day. Shapiro Zwanetz & Associates (SZA), P.A. documents its calendars to ensure that limitations has been satisfied. When a minor is involved, the statute of limitations may toll, or stop, until the minor reaches the age of 18, at which time the statute of limitations begins again. It is in the injured party’s best interest to immediately hire an attorney, and not wait to do so.