Maryland car accident laws govern whether you will be successful in securing a payout for your injuries after an auto accident. They are complicated. An experienced car accident attorney will guide you and help you avoid potential pitfalls during a claim after a car wreck.
The laws set out deadlines to file claims. They can also determine liability after a car wreck. The laws are either set out in statutes or follow court decisions. They govern issues like the minimum car insurance you can take out in Maryland and fault for a wreck.
Maryland Car Accident Laws Relating to Fault
Like many other states, Maryland uses fault to work who is to blame for a car accident. The car driver who caused the accident can be held responsible for losses including injuries, vehicle damage, medical bills, and lost wages. The culpable driver’s insurance company bears these costs.
When a driver causes a crash, the victim has three main options available. They are:
- Filing a third-party claim directly with the insurance company of the driver that caused the accident;
- Filing a claim for damage with his or her own insurance company if the loss is covered under the policy.
- Pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
No-fault states offer fewer options and a more straightforward process. It’s challenging to get what you deserve for your injuries in Maryland.
Maryland Car Accident Laws Related to Contributory Negligence
Maryland has a harsh law known as “contributory negligence.” There are only four contributory negligence states, notes WalletHub – Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama as well as the District of Columbia.
Contributory negligence is a tough rule. Historically, it was the law in all U.S. states. Many introduced more reasonable rules. The law states if you are even one percent to blame for an accident, you cannot collect damages from another party.
Many other states now operate a system called comparative negligence. It allows people who are partly to blame for a crash to recover money.
In Maryland, drivers making an accident claim must not only prove the other party caused the accident. They must show they didn’t do anything to contribute to the accident. This rule is a gift to the insurance company’s lawyers. If they can show the slightest lapse on the behalf of the victim, he or she may lose out.
An example is a woman who fails to look before entering a crosswalk where she is hit by a speeding car driven by a drunk driver. The motorist caused the crash and the injury. The woman was on a crosswalk. However, the contributory negligence on the woman’s behalf could potentially bar her from making a successful claim.
Maryland’s contributory negligence law is controversial. Lawmakers have sought to overturn it. However, the state’s Court of Appeals upheld the law in 2013, Insurance Journal reported.
While Maryland follows the strict contributory negligence rule, many insurance policies include Personal Injury Protection (PIP). This covers certain damages regardless of who is to blame for an accident.
This insurance will pay a certain amount of money for lost wages and medical expenses regardless of fault. PIP is an extension of car insurance. It is often called “no-fault” coverage.
Proving Negligence under Maryland’s Car Accident Laws
Maryland’s traffic laws set out the rules of the road in the state. They are important in establishing negligence in an accident. The police will often charge a driver who violated a law. A traffic citation helps establish negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.
When a driver violates a rule, he or she can be found to be negligent per se. This is a form of strict liability. It can speed your case up and lead to a positive outcome.
Maryland’s drunk driving laws are a case in point. When a drunk driver hits and injures another motorist, the victim’s case will be stronger because the DUI driver broke the law. However, the accident must have been caused by the drunk driver for a claim to be successful.
Other violations of Maryland’s traffic laws that can establish negligence include speeding, running a red light, and failing to stop at a stop sign.
Having a great case to sue another driver won’t do you any good if you delay. Maryland, as with other states, has strict deadlines on when you can file a lawsuit. Accident victims who delay too long lose their chance to win compensation.
The Maryland Statutes of Limitations for Vehicle Accidents
The most important deadline in a car accident lawsuit is set by the statutes of limitations. You must file a lawsuit within three years of the crash that injured you.
It’s a mistake to wait until the cutoff is looming to file a lawsuit. Many attorneys are wary about filing a lawsuit with little time on their side.
The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to find evidence related to the wreck. The memories of witnesses fade and records are often lost and destroyed.
A different rule applies to minors suing for personal injury. Children under the age of 18 have until they turn 21 to file a lawsuit. The deadline to file the lawsuit expires on their 21st birthday.
The statute of limitations deadline is a hard deadline. People who fail to file a lawsuit within the three-year period permanently lose the right to bring a case. Three years seems like a long time but it elapses fast.
What are Notices in Cases against Governments?
Maryland auto accident law is complicated if you are making a claim against a local, state, or federal government. Every year, hundreds of people are hurt by city garbage trucks, snow plows, or state highway vehicles.
These cases are confusing. It can be tricky to establish if you are bringing a case against an employee or a governmental entity. It makes sense to hire a car accident lawyer in these cases.
The lawyer must give notice to certain individuals. The notice must contain detailed information about the claim. In cases against the State of Maryland, notice must be given within a year of the injury.
Accidents Caused by Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers in Maryland
We don’t choose who hits us in an accident. If we could choose, we would never be involved in an accident. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.
The average driver makes a claim for a car crash every 17.9 years, according to insurance company statistics. Being hit and badly hurt by an uninsured or an under-insured driver is a worst-case scenario for drivers in Maryland.
Drivers are required to carry insurance of at least $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in Maryland. They must take out policies covering $15,000 for property damage per accident.
Some drivers flout Maryland car accident laws and drive uninsured. As many as one-in-seven drivers fail to take out insurance, according to research.
If you are driving around a big city like Baltimore, you might be hit by an out-of-state driver. Often motorists from other states have less than $30,000 in insurance.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is intended to protect car wreck victims from drivers with little or no insurance.
What’s the Difference Between Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
- Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) protects drivers from crashes with uninsured drivers as well as hit-and-run accidents. On occasions, drivers who leave car wreck scenes are never tracked down. Your own insurance company will step in and be responsible for your injuries and damages.
- Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) is relevant when the driver who hit you had poor insurance coverage. If your UIM insurance limits exceed the negligent driver’s liability limits, you can likely recover the difference. Typically, the accident victim gets the full policy from the negligent driver. He or she can then make a claim against his own insurance company for the amount of the UIM policy, minus the amount already paid.
Drivers should take out UM/UIM policies to give themselves additional protection. Claims must be brought within three years from the time the policyholder knew he had a claim against his insurance company.
What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Maryland?
People who drive without insurance in Maryland face fines and the loss of their driving privileges. According to the Motor Vehicle Administration, the following sanctions can be imposed against a driver with no insurance:
- The loss of license plates and your vehicle registration privileges.
- Uninsured motorist penalty fees for every lapse of insurance. This amounts to $150 for the first 30 days and $7 for each following day.
- A prohibition on registering any future vehicles until you have cleared all insurance violations.
- The payment of a restoration fee of up to $25 for a vehicle’s registration.
- A prohibition on renewing a suspended registration until you have cleared all other vehicle insurance violations.
- The loss of your vehicle license plates.
- A fine of up to $1,000 as well as up to a year in prison for giving false evidence of vehicle insurance.
Despite these sanctions, data from the Insurance Research Council found 12.4 percent of drivers drove uninsured in Maryland in 2015, reported Carinsurance.com.
Maryland Car Accident Laws Place a Cap on Damages
Drivers, passengers, pedestrians or others hurt in a car accident also face a cap or limit on non-economic damages. This means pain and suffering. Maryland car accident laws that place restrictions on payouts are a problem after wrecks with serious injuries.
Maryland’s cap on non-economic damages was $845,000 in 2018. The cap for a wrongful death case is $1,267,500 where there are two or more beneficiaries.
There is another claim, a survival action for the pain and suffering of the victim. This means the highest recovery for non-economic pain and suffering damages in a wrongful death case was $2,112,500 as of 2018.
There is no cap for economic damages such as medical bills and lost income under Maryland car accident laws.
Hire a Lawyer Who is Familiar with Maryland Car Accident Laws
Many people make a claim against the insurance companies alone after a car, truck, or motorcycle accident. This may be a mistake if you are unfamiliar with Maryland’s car accident laws.
The insurance company may interpret the laws to claim you were at fault or partly to blame for your accident. Insurance companies use many tricks to drive down payouts.
People who fight for their rights alone after a car wreck can run out of time to file a claim. They can fall foul of a wide range of laws and statutes they knew nothing about.
An experienced Baltimore car accident injury lawyer will advise you of your rights and the potential pitfalls. It’s important to talk to a lawyer as early in the Maryland personal injury process as possible. Please contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice today for a free and confidential consultation.