Car Accident Law: How to Proceed When the Other Driver Does Not Have Insurance
Although car insurance is mandatory in the state of Maryland, some drivers choose not to obtain it, or do not have enough to cover a major accident. Here, the legal experts at Murnane & O’Neill explain best practices when an accident with a non- or minimally covered driver occurs.
Those driving without automobile insurance in Maryland could face thousands of dollars in fines or even jail time for multiple violations, and yet it is estimated that over 12% of drivers in Maryland are uninsured. A driver who chooses not to purchase car insurance may be far more likely to take unsafe risks on the road, leading to more car accidents. As such, it is critical to know how to proceed after being involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Maryland law states that all drivers must have general liability car insurance, as well as uninsured and underinsured car insurance. This ensures that drivers are protected in situations where they are hit by an uninsured driver, but also in cases of hit-and-run and those when the at-fault driver’s insurance is not enough to cover the payout of the claim. The minimum coverage a driver must have in Maryland is $30,000 for bodily injury per person, $60,000 bodily injury per accident, and $15,000 for property damage.
Maryland statute of limitations requires drivers to file a lawsuit within three years of the date of the collision. A successful claim will typically cover medical expenses, lost wages and non-economic damages, typically referred to as “pain and suffering” damages. Underinsured car insurance helps cover the difference if the at-fault driver’s policy does not provide enough for the economic and non-economic damages caused by the collision. This is important, as many insured drivers only have the minimum coverage required, which may not fully compensate a victim for both economic and non-economic damages sustained in a major collision.
Reporting Uninsured Drivers
For the sake of reducing the number of uninsured drivers on Maryland roads, the Maryland Vehicle Association urges those involved in accidents with uninsured drivers to report them to the Insurance Compliance Division at the MVA Glen Burnie Office. Making a free report will help prevent others from facing your situation, and will allow the MVA to investigate the situation thoroughly.
Filing a Lawsuit
While you are able to file a lawsuit against an uninsured driver, it comes with specific challenges. Maryland is a “contributory negligence” state, which means that if you were even one percent at fault for the occurrence, you will be barred from any recovery. Controversy over contributory negligence aside, success in court does not necessarily mean a large payout—those without insurance tend to have little in personal assets, meaning there might not be anything to collect even if you win your case. Post judgment collections practice can be lengthy and often with little reward when dealing with someone who has little to no assets or income.
Uninsured drivers create unique challenges for their victims, which means that having experienced representation is critical to your car accident case. At Murnane & O’Neill, we work hard to advocate for you in and out of the courtroom, and ensure to our fullest capability that you get the justice you deserve. For more information, or for a free consultation, contact us today!