Often it takes a
motor vehicle collision to realize that your auto insurance is insufficient and not comprehensive.
This blog post is the second in a series that identifies critical elements
of your auto insurance coverage and how to ensure that, going forward,
you have maximum protection in the event of an accident. Since scores
of Marylanders are driving with either no insurance or minimum coverage,
it is imperative that your uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist
(UIM) limits are as high as possible.
In a perfect world, all drivers would carry valid insurance with appropriate
bodily injury and property damage coverage limits. Unfortunately, many
Maryland motorists fail to carry auto insurance, which becomes a problem
when they cause accidents that injure others. In these instances, an injured
person can choose to file a UM claim with her own auto insurer to recover
compensation for her injuries. Essentially, her insurance company "steps
into the shoes" of the vehicle that caused the accident and provides
compensation up the applicable limits of coverage.
Therefore, it is important that you obtain high UM coverage in case you
sustain serious injuries caused by an uninsured driver. The state minimum
UM coverage of $30,000, or even $50,000 or $100,000, might not be enough
to fully compensate you for your injuries in a serious auto accident.
Our firm recommends that you obtain $250,000 or more in UM coverage to
protect yourself in the event of a major collision. While an injured victim
would prefer to make a claim directly against the negligent driver's
insurance company, a UM claim is the only option in which to recover compensation
if that driver irresponsibly lacked valid insurance at the time of the accident.
A UIM claim is similar to a UM claim but with one major difference: the
negligent driver has valid insurance but his bodily injury limits are
too low to fully compensate an injured party. Again, the injured party's
own auto insurance company becomes involved and provides additional compensation
based on the severity of the case. Recently, a young woman retained our
law firm after she was involved in an accident and sustained very serious
injuries. The negligent driver pulled out of a parking sport without looking
and crashed into her while she was driving down the street. She suffered
a concussion and potentially permanent nerve damage to her neck, shoulders
and arm. The negligent driver carried the state minimum of $30,000 in
liability coverage and our client carried UIM coverage just a bit higher
at $50,000. So, under Maryland law, the maximum she can potentially recover
is $50,000 in compensation. However, based on her significant injuries,
I easily value her claim at double that amount. If she had obtained higher
UIM limits from her auto insurer, such as $250,000, she would likely receive
a much more substantial settlement at the end of her case. It should be
noted that there are certain rules and procedures in UIM claims that an
experienced personal injury attorney can explain in more detail.
If you have any questions about UM/UIM coverage or other aspects of your
auto insurance coverage,
contact the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow at (410) 777-8960.
DON'T SETTLE FOR ANYONE ELSE!