You feel the impact of the crash as your car spins out of control, looking down you see blood on your legs and realize you’ve been severely injured. You know you only have liability coverage and wonder whether insurance will cover all the damages. Smoke is rising from the hood of your car and instinctively you know that there was serious damage to yourself and your car. As the dust settles, you hear the screech of tires speeding away. You’ve just been in a hit-and-run accident.
You are waiting for an ambulance after a devastating car wreck where you have clearly been injured. You are exchanging insurance information and are shocked to discover the other driver’s car insurance policy has lapsed. You’ve just been in an accident where the negligent driver has no car insurance at all. Read more from our Maryland personal injury lawyers.
How Car Insurance Coverage Works in Maryland
You cannot make an insurance company pay an amount that exceeds the policy limits selected. Fortunately, Maryland has robust minimum insurance requirements where all motorists must have uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage. It’s true that damages may exceed policy limits, but it’s a start.
The purpose of uninsured and underinsured coverage is to create a safety net for drivers who are involved in car crashes with an at-fault driver that does not have enough insurance or, quite often, no car insurance at all.
In Maryland, liability coverage includes bodily injury and property damage. the minimum coverage is 30/60/15, meaning that you must have $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and property damage coverage of at least $15,000. Personal injury or no-fault medical coverage, is required at a minimum of $2,500. These coverage amounts are in addition to uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Filing a Claim Against At-Fault Driver in Maryland
If your claim exceeds the policy limits, you can always choose to sue the at-fault driver directly, whether to recover your deductible or to seek damages above the policy limits that are available. Remember that in Maryland, if you were just 1% at fault for the accident, you will likely recover nothing. the negligent driver must be 100% responsible for the accident.
Even if you find that the negligent driver who crashed into you has no car insurance at all, you can still file a claim against them. the difficulty arises when one considers the time and effort involved in a private lawsuit and whether the at-fault driver has assets to recover from. If you have suffered severe or debilitating injuries, consulting with a Maryland car accident lawyer would be beneficial in framing the lawsuit and figuring out the damages that are owed.
Be aware that you can always choose to pay for more car insurance accident coverage than just the minimum. Higher limits of car insurance coverage provide more protection against lawsuits being filed against you. If you own property or have other resources, an injured party can go after you personally and may succeed in obtaining a judgment against you. This could result in wage garnishment, attaching your life savings, liens on personal property, or even the equity in your home.
Filing a Claim Against Your Own Insurer
In certain situations, you may find yourself making a claim through your own personal insurance company. This remedy is particularly important when your car accident claim either exceeds the negligent driver’s policy limits or where there is no insurance company to go after. You would make a claim against your own insurance company up to the limit of your underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. Our Hagerstown car accident lawyers can help through this.
Many drivers are underinsured and claims against them often exceed policy limits. When this happens, you are allowed to file a claim against your own insurance company to make up the difference.
In order to recover from your underinsured motorist coverage, the calculation can be tricky. First, the at-fault driver must have policy limits that are less than your underinsured motorist coverage limits. Second, your damages must exceed the at-fault driver’s available policy limits. Only then can you claim the difference under your own insurance policy.
If both drivers have the minimum coverages in Maryland, there will be little to be gained by seeking monetary damages from your own insurer. You cannot get the same amount of damages from two places.
When a negligent driver, for whatever reason, has no valid car insurance coverage, you may wonder how you will ever get a recovery. In Maryland, every car insurance policy is required to have at least a minimal amount of uninsured or underinsured driver coverage. So if you are insured, your own uninsured driver coverage comes into play when you are involved in an accident with an at-fault driver who has no car insurance.
The process would be similar to filing a claim against the negligent driver’s insurer. the claim would cover repairs to your vehicle, as well as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You are only limited by the amount of coverage you’ve selected as part of your own policy. it is always a good idea to add more insurance coverage if you can.
Bad Faith Insurance Claims in Maryland
If your claim is against your own insurance company and you are making a claim under your own uninsured or underinsured coverage, there is the potential for a bad faith claim if the insurance company is refusing to deal with you fairly. Insurers are not allowed to ignore your claims or dismiss them without examination. They must deal with such claims in good faith.
Contact Our Maryland Car Accident Lawyers Today
When your car accident claim exceeds available insurance policy limits, you can file a claim with your own insurance company or you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, provided they have assets you can collect from. Uninsured motorist coverage will protect you if someone driving without car insurance crashes into you, or if someone has too little insurance to cover your damages. When, how, and why to sue your own insurer can be complicated, but an experienced Baltimore car accident lawyer will be able to guide you through the process.