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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

A recent study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that collision avoidance systems installed on 2013-2017 BMW models showed claim rate reductions in collisions, property damage, and injuries. This shows that this technology has the potential to reduce auto collision and injury rates.

As we are seeing with the coronavirus, fewer accidents don’t only save precious lives. There is less of a toll on our hospitals and, yes, our insurance companies that that can help reduce health care and insurance costs.  So anything that comes along that can move us to a safer future is a very good thing for all of us.

What are collision avoidance systems?

In the context of auto accident insurance claims, the acronym SIU refers to “Special Investigation Unit.” All the big auto insurance companies have an SIU of some type. The primary purpose of these investigation teams is to uncover fraudulent claims activity in auto accident cases.

special investigation unitInsurance companies seem to think that auto accident claim fraud is widespread and pervasive. I disagree with this view as to how prevalent claims fraud is. However, there is no dispute that many car accident claimants either exaggerate their injuries or even make them up entirely.

What is an SIU?

In the world of insurance injury claims, “SIU” means “Special Investigation Unit.” Almost all insurance companies have special investigation units (SIUs), although the actual name of the unit may vary depending on the insurer. The core purpose of SIUs is to root out fraudulent injury claims. The SIUs seek to determine whether victims in car accident cases are exaggerating the scope of their injuries, getting unnecessary medical treatment to try to increase the value of their case, or even staging the car accident. As GEICO explains, the goal of an SIU is “to detect, deter, and defeat insurance fraud.”

maryland pedestrian deaths

Pedestrian Deaths Rose in 2018

Pedestrian deaths in Maryland jumped 25 percent in 2018 to a 28-year high.  We had 48 pedestrian deaths in 2017 and that jumped to 60 in 2018.

We are not the only ones.  The national average is also at a 28-year high, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report published Thursday.

Our law firm handles a lot of brain injury cases, both from childbirth and from traumatic collisions like a car or truck accident.  Below are questions we are frequently asked about these claims.

Traumatic brain injury overview

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by force impact or force to the head disrupting normal brain activity and causing neurologic damage. TBIs account for about 30% of injury deaths in the United States. According to the CDC, about 153 people die from TBI-related injuries every day in the United States.

According to a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), teenagers have the highest car accident rate of any age group in the country. After years on the decline, teen driving fatalities have been on the increase. The rate of teen driver fatalities went up nine percent from 2014 to 2015.

The study listed several risks that may result in teen driver death rates. They are the following.

Inexperience

Car accidents generate a lot of harmful force.  When a car suddenly collides with something or gets hit by another vehicle, the occupants inside get forcefully propelled in the direction of the impact.  Inside the confines of a car, this physical propulsion is usually stopped by another impact with a door, window, seat belt or airbag.  Both the sudden forward movement and the sudden stop put acute stress on the spine and neck.  These critically important areas of the body are most vulnerable in an auto accident.

The violent forward and stopping the movement of occupants in a car accident is commonly called “whiplash” and is one of the leading causes of back injuries in an auto accident. Injuries to the lower back can be extremely painful and notoriously difficult to treat and recover from. This article will focus on the possible causes of lower back pain that occurs after a car accident.

Mechanics of Pain in Lower Back After Car Accident

If you have a herniated disc injury, the results of your MRI will be crucial to the settlement value or trial value of your case.  The insurance adjusters and lawyers will probably spend more time debating the significance of your MRI than any other part of your case.

Why so much debate about radiological films we can all see?  The reality is that you can look at two identical MRIs.  One patient will be in extreme pain.  The other will not even know that she has a herniated disc.  This is the backdrop for the battle over the value of these claims.

Our law firm has had a lot of success in these cases.  Let’s talk about herniated disc injury cases and the significance of the MRI results to your claim.

I read an interesting article in the European Spine Journal titled “The association between a lifetime history of a neck injury in a motor vehicle collision and future neck pain: a population-based cohort study.”

Yes, that’s a big title. But the study looked at an incredibly simple issue: are neck injuries in car accidents a harbinger of neck pain later in life after the injury has resolved. So the study looked at the association between a lifetime history of neck injury from a motor vehicle collision and the development of troublesome neck pain.

The answer was what plaintiffs’ car accident lawyers were sure to tell you would be the case: patients with a history of neck injury in a traffic collision are more likely to experience future neck pain.

When I’m in another state, particularly on the West Coast, I’m always amazed at how far our culture extends. Going to Starbucks in Seattle is like getting Starbucks in Baltimore; people look the same, act the same, and largely talk in the same way (although they don’t seem to know how to say “hon”).

But, boy, when it comes to the risk of accidental death, it’s like we all live in separate and very different countries. New Mexico residents are nearly three times more likely to die as a result of injuries than inhabitants of New Jersey. Mississippi residents are about four times (get that, four times!) more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents than those in Massachusetts or New York. Statistics can put you to sleep sometimes, but these are incredible. I’m not even sure I believe it.

You can find the results of the study and see how Maryland does here. (Sneak preview: we are pretty safe here.)

As a matter of law, I believe that the uninsured motorist carrier cannot require any statement – recorded or otherwise – from their insured after a car accident. Notwithstanding the fine print language in almost every Maryland car insurance contract that requires a statement, Maryland law requires your own car insurance company to pay all damages that the insured is entitled to from the person that caused the accident up to the uninsured motorist limit, if the “bad guy” has insufficient insurance.

The Maryland high court has affirmed that Maryland insurance law substantially rewrites car insurance contracts and that provisions that are not authorized by Maryland law are unenforceable. This would clearly seem to fall into that category because, if the insurance company is imposing any additional conditions on payment, then it is not providing the compensation required by the statute.

So you can just ignore your own insurance company’s request for a recorded statement, just like you can ignore the at-fault driver’s insurance company’s request for a statement, right? Not so fast. The law I just gave you is what I call “The Law According to Laura.” This law comes with an important caveat: it is often wrong. The Maryland Court of Appeals has never ruled on this issue and could disagree completely or limit the coverage without a recorded statement to the minimum limits.