Medical Malpractice FAQ:

According to patient safety experts at Johns Hopkins, there are more than 250,000 deaths per year due to medical error in the U.S. This represents 9.5% of all deaths and is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. behind cancer and heart disease. In addition to deaths caused by medical mistakes, others estimate that medical mistakes that cause serious harm seems to be “10- to 20-times more common than lethal harm.” Based on these statistics, every hour of every single day there are hundreds of people in the U.S. to fall victim to medical malpractice.

What is medical malpractice?

All healthcare providers must comply with “the standard of care.” The standard of care for a healthcare provider in Maryland is what a reasonably prudent healthcare provider would do under the same or similar circumstances. If a healthcare provider fails to act reasonable under the circumstances, then he or she has “breached” the standard of care. But, a breach alone is not malpractice – the breach by the healthcare provider must cause damage. The damage caused by a medical mistake varies but usually involve a serious injury or death.

How do I know if the injury or death was malpractice or a complication of the procedure?

In general, it is malpractice if the injury or “bad outcome” could have been prevented or should have been avoided. On the other hand, if the healthcare provider acted reasonably and took reasonable precautions and an injury resulted anyway, the injury might be a known complication. Determining whether an injury was malpractice or a known complication often involves an expert opinion by another healthcare provider in the same or similar area of medicine and your attorney will investigate the care and treatment to determine this answer.

How much will it cost me to get an expert opinion?

ZERO! Although most medical malpractice cases can cost more than $100,000 to pursue, a good medical malpractice attorney will front all the costs of bringing a lawsuit and recover those costs back at the end of the case if there is a verdict or settlement against a healthcare provider.

Who will pay me if there is a settlement or a verdict against a healthcare provider?

Just like you have car insurance, most healthcare providers have medical malpractice insurance that will pay the settlement or judgement. If a claim is against a hospital, most hospitals are self-insured for actions of their healthcare providers.

What should I do if I think I am the victim of a medical mistake?

If you think that you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or death as a result of a medical mistake you should consult with an attorney who is known for handling cases involving medical errors and mistakes. The attorneys at Potter Burnett Law will review your potential case with you at NO COST to you.

What happens after I consult with an attorney?

If an attorney determines the injury or death may be the result of a medical error the next step would be to obtain all of the relevant medical records and have them reviewed by a medical expert. Again, the investigation is at NO COST to you. If the experts believe there was a breach of the standard of care that caused you or your loved one harm, the next step would be filing a lawsuit and pursuing your claim.

How long after an injury or death do I have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit?

In Maryland, the time to file a medical practice, also known as the Statute of Limitations, is generally 3 years. You can review this law at §5-109 of Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Article.

If the injury is not immediately known, victims have 3 years from when the injury is or should have been discovered. But, absent special circumstances, a lawsuit must be filed within 5 years from the date of the malpractice. Common cases where there is a delay in discovering an injury often involve cancer that should have been found earlier.

To make things even more confusing, in cases involving children, the time to bring a lawsuit starts running when the child turns 18 years old regardless of when the injury occurred.

If you think you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice you should take action IMMEDIATELY. If your case is past the statute of limitations, no attorney in the world can fix it!

I don’t have any money to hire a lawyer. What do I do?

You are in luck! At Potter Burnett Law we handle our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. That means the consultation is free and we work on your case without getting paid until you receive a recovery. You do not pay anything unless, and until, we secure a settlement or verdict for you. No money is required up front so call us today to discuss your case.

Car Accident FAQ:

Property Damage Questions

Injury Questions:

After an Accident:

UM/UIM Coverage and Insurance Questions:


Property Damage Questions:

What is “total loss”?

It means the value of the repairs to your car exceeds the car’s current market value.

What happens if my car is deemed a “total loss?”

The insurance company will pay you for the fair market value of the vehicle, plus reimburse for any taxes and tags for that calendar year.

What if I want to keep my vehicle, even though it has been deemed a total loss?

You do have the option of keeping the vehicle, but your vehicle will have a new salvage title. The insurance company will pay you less than the fair market value if you decide to keep it, this is called deducting the “salvage value.”

How does the insurance company determine fair market value of my car?

  • The insurance companies have their own software for determining fair market value. They review the make, model, mileage, and condition of your vehicle.
  • You can check the value of your car on websites like and The insurance company value will not be exactly the same – but this gives you an estimate.

What is the process for accepting the insurance company’s total loss offer?

  • If there is loan on the car, you need to provide pay off information on the loan.
  • Locate the title. If you originally had a loan, and it is paid off, locate the “lien release.”  If you have a current loan, payment first goes to the loan holder, and left-over money will go to you.

What if my car is totaled and it a leased vehicle?

The insurance company will pay the leasing company or dealer for the total loss, not you personally, as you are not the “owner”.

My car is totaled, but I still owe money on the car.  What happens?

The insurance company will apply the total loss fair market value to the loan and you will get to keep anything above the loan amount.

What if the total loss offer is not enough to cover the loan on my car?

The first step is to determine if you have gap insurance.

What is “gap insurance”?

It is insurance coverage, often sold by the dealer or seller, that will pay off any balance that remains after the total loss.

What if my car is totaled, and I do not have gap coverage, and the total loss offer does not pay off my loan?

You are what is considered “upside down” or “under water.”  The loan balance, after the total loss payment is still owed. There is no mechanism to “waive” or “erase” that remaining loan balance. This is a difficult situation.

What if I can’t afford a new car?

Unfortunately, the insurance company doesn’t owe you a new car, only the value of what was lost.

The other insurance company is disputing fault and my car is totaled, what do I do?

You have the option of going through your own insurance to handle the total loss, but you will have to pay your deductible.

What does “liability only” mean?

It means that your insurance coverage will only apply and make payments to someone else. It does not apply to cover your repair or total loss.

The other driver is disputing fault and I have liability only.  What does that mean?

It means that the other driver’s insurance company will not pay for your car’s damage to be repaired and/or your total loss. You may be responsible personally for the damages to your vehicle.

How do I recover for property damage when the other driver’s insurance refuses to pay?

You should consult with an attorney about bringing a property damage lawsuit. Many attorneys handle property damage claims with the bodily injury claim.

My car was towed to a storage facility after the accident.  What do I do?

You should locate the car as soon as possible. Storage fees can be expensive. Contact a lawyer to make sure the car gets moved.

What is “depreciation of value” (DOV)?

After your car has been in a collision, the market value of the car is less than it was before the collision, even if all of the damages have been repaired.

Can I make a claim for the “depreciation of value” (DOV) to my car after a collision?

Yes, if you are not at fault.

How do I prove a “depreciation of value” (DOV) claim?

Often you need to have an expert look at your car and prepare a report on the loss in value. You should consult with an attorney about how to make a DOV claim.

Injury Questions:

I was hurt in a car crash.  What am I entitled to?

You can make a claim for your property damages, your medical bills, pain and suffering, your lost wages and any other out of pockets expenses you have incurred because of the crash. If permanent injuries, future medical issues, future lost wages, and future pain and suffering.

What is the difference between a “bodily injury claim” and a “personal injury claim”?

There is no difference. Bodily injury and personal injury claims are terms that are used interchangeably.

What is a bodily injury/personal injury claim?

It is a claim for your injuries, before a “lawsuit” is filed.

What is “pain and suffering”?

Pain and suffering is the common term used for non-economic damages. These are damages for pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment of life because of your injuries.  These are intangible damages.

How is pain and suffering calculated?

There is no formula or method for calculating pain and suffering, and it varies by the individual and the circumstances of the case. You should contact an attorney to help you understand and help you recover full value.

What are “lost wages”?

If you miss time from work because of your injuries, you can be reimbursed for the time missed.

How do I prove “lost wages”?

You should provide the dates, times, and reasons you missed work. You should provide doctor’s notes or disability slips showing that you were not able to work.  Provide a supervisor’s contact information who can verify that you were not able to work.  Proof of income, like paystubs or W2s, can also be helpful.

I get sick leave paid by my employer.  Can I still make a lost wage claim?

Yes! It is irrelevant that you have paid sick leave.

I don’t have sick leave, but have PTO and/or vacation days?

That is fine to use, the law does not care what leave you took.

I was hurt in an accident.  What is my case worth?

Many factors are considered in valuing a case and an injury. There is no legal formula for determining case value.  For example, you will want to be fully reimbursed for all medical bills, lost wages and out of pocket expenses resulting from your injury.  In addition to that, you can recover for pain and suffering.  All of these factors will contribute to your case value.

Can I make a bodily injury claim if I do not go to the doctor?

It is extremely difficult to prove injury without medical documentation. If you are injured or in pain after an accident, you should go to the doctor right away.

Do I need a lawyer if I am not injured?

Most lawyers who handle car accidents are injury attorneys and will not get involved unless there is an injury and medical care is involved. If you are unsure of whether you need an attorney, contact Potter Burnett Law for a free consultation.

Will the at fault insurance company pay my medical bills?

When you make an injury claim, the insurance company will not pay the bills as you incur them. The insurance company makes a one-time, lump sum payment. You can never reopen the case or seek a second payment. – One check, one check ever.  This payment should include all medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, other out of pocket expenses you have claimed, and any future expenses.

How do I pay my medical bills after a car crash?

You may have PIP (personal injury protection) and/or Med Pay coverage through your car insurance that will help pay bills. After PIP or Med Pay is exhausted, you should have your bills paid by your health insurer.  If you do not have health insurance, you may need to work out an arrangement with the medical providers to be reimbursed at the end of your case.

Why should I have my health insurance pay my bills if someone else is at fault?

The at fault insurance company makes a one-time lump sum settlement payment and will not pay your bills as you incur them. To avoid bills going to collections, or having to pay out of pocket, you should have your own health insurance cover the bills.  Your health insurance provider will have a right to be reimbursed out of any settlement you receive for the bills they paid (this is called subrogation).

Why do I have to pay health insurance back after I get a settlement?

Generally, health insurance has a right to be reimbursed out of the settlement for medical bills they paid related to the accident. This is because your insurance settlement includes reimbursement of medical bills.  If health insurance paid those bills for you, they have a right to be reimbursed.  This process is call subrogation.

I want to settle my case, but I may need more medical care in the future.  What do I do?

The insurance company gives one check, one check ever. If you are seeking future medical care, you usually need proof that you have a permanent injury and medical documentation stating the type and cost of medical care you will need in the future.  If you are concerned about having a permanent injury or requiring future medical care, you should consult with an attorney.

After an Accident:

I was just in an accident.  What should I do?

  • Call 911 in the event of an emergency for help. If you are able to, take pictures of the scene and the damage to the cars.  Get the contact information of the other driver: including their name, address, phone number and vehicle information – especially their tag number.  If you have a cell phone, take pictures of the other driver’s license, vehicle tag, and insurance information.
  • If you have visible injuries, take photos. See a medical provider as soon as possible for pain and injuries.
  • Get the police case number or an “exchange of information” form.
  • Get contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
  • Make sure you know who towed your car and where they towed it.

What is a “recorded statement”?

After an accident, insurance companies like to get statements right away from the people involved about how the accident happened.

Do I have to give a “recorded statement”?

You are not required to give a statement to the other driver’s You should consult with an attorney before giving any statement.

Why do I need an attorney?

Insurance companies try to pay the least amount possible on each claim. A lawyer will help you maximize your recovery and help obtain the necessary proof and documentation needed to bring a successful claim.  Insurance companies often try to reach a quick, less than fair settlement with unrepresented individuals.

I do not have money to hire a lawyer.  What do I do?

Potter Burnett Law offers free consultations, and we handle injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t pay anything to retain us, and we get paid at the end of the case out of the settlement from the insurance company.

I am not sure if I want to hire a lawyer.  Do I have to pay for my consultation?

Potter Burnett Law offers free consultations.

UM/UIM Coverage and Insurance Questions:

The driver who hit me has no insurance.  What happens now?

You can make a claim for your damages through your own insurance as an Uninsured Motorist (UM) claim. It is coverage for you, when you are a victim.

I was in a hit and run accident.  What happens now?

  • You should report the accident to police and request a police report to document the accident.
  • You can make a claim for your damages through your own insurance as an Uninsured Motorist (UM) claim.

What is Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage?

It is coverage under your own car insurance policy that protects you when you are involved in a hit and run or hit by someone with no insurance. Your insurance will cover your damages as you are a victim.

What is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage?

When the other driver has insurance, but does not have enough to fully compensate you, you may be able to make a claim through your own insurance for additional money to cover the difference.

Will my insurance company raise my rates for making an Uninsured (UM) or Underinsured (UIM) claim?

There are many factors insurance companies consider when raising rates. Generally, they are not permitted to raise rates for making a UM/UIM claim, as you are a victim.

What are the minimum insurance limits in Maryland?

$30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident.

Am I required to have UM or UIM coverage on my car insurance?

Maryland law requires at a minimum, $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident for UM/UIM coverage.

Can my policy “stack” on top of the driver’s insurance policy?

Maryland insurance policies usually do not stack. Recently, Maryland law has changed to allow for enhanced underinsured motorist coverage (EUIM), but you have to check your individual policy to know whether it is allowed. It permits you to “stack” your policy on top of the at fault driver’s policy.


What does PIP coverage stand for?

Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

What does PIP mean?

PIP is a no-fault coverage that will pay only medical expenses and/or lost wages after a crash. You can make a PIP claim whether you are at fault or a victim.

Is PIP required?

In Maryland, PIP coverage is required unless you sign a waiver.

Which insurance company pays the PIP?

The vehicle in which you were sitting in at the moment of impact is legally required to pay the PIP. Not the at fault driver’s insurance company.

How much PIP coverage is there?

In Maryland, there are 3 levels of PIP coverage: policy will have $0, $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000.

Is PIP available for everyone in the car at the time of the crash?

Yes, each person in the car gets their own PIP claim at the limits you purchase. For example, if you have 3 people who are injured in the car and you have $2,500 in PIP, each person is entitled to up to $2,500.

Do I have to pay PIP back?

No! In Maryland, PIP does not have to be paid back.

Will they raise my rates for making a PIP claim?

The insurance laws in Maryland prohibit insurance companies from raising your rates for making PIP claims.

How much does PIP pay out?

PIP will pay 100% of claimed medical expenses and 85% of claimed lost wages up to your PIP limits.

I signed a PIP waiver, what does that mean?

You have waived your right to make a PIP claim.

What happens when PIP is exhausted?

PIP limits are exhausted when they have been paid out to the limit of your coverage. If you are still incurring bills or lost wages after PIP is exhausted, then health insurance pays.

Can I get PIP from the other driver’s insurance?

Only if you were a pedestrian or a bicyclist.

What does “guest PIP” mean?

Generally, this means there is PIP coverage for the occupants of your car, but that you waived PIP coverage for yourself and members of your household.

Do I need to buy PIP coverage?

You should buy PIP coverage because it is generally affordable, it can be used whether you are at fault or not, and it does not have to be reimbursed.

What is Med Pay (MP)?

Medical Payment Coverage, often called Med Pay (MP) is like PIP coverage, through your own policy, that helps pay medical bills and often does not need to be reimbursed.

Legal representation for car accident victims in: Charles County, PG County, Anne Arundel County, and the Maryland/DC/Metro area.