After a car accident, one of the first calls most drivers will make is one to their insurance company. That is because, after a collision between two drivers, their insurance companies will normally work things out on behalf of their insured, determining fault and making settlement offers if need be.
But what happens when the at-fault driver does not have insurance? According to a recent study by the Insurance Information Institute (III), 13 percent of drivers were driving around in 2015 without insurance. That is more than one in ten drivers, and certainly makes the odds of this situation happening more likely than you may think.
When the at-fault driver is not insured, you do not have another insurance company to recover compensation from. Instead, you must deal with the driver directly and confer with your insurance company about your own insurance coverage, specifically your uninsured motorist coverage.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident
Maryland, like many other states, is a fault-based car insurance state. That means that the facts of the accident are looked at, and whoever is determined to be at-fault is responsible for paying out damages to those who have been harmed. In the case of a car accident, that usually means that the at-fault party’s insurance company pays damages, but if the at-fault party does not have insurance that can complicate matters.
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Mandatory Insurance Coverage Requirements in Maryland
Maryland mandates a minimum level of insurance coverage. While certain types of coverage can be optional, there are some things that you simply cannot opt-out of when you decide to insure your vehicle. According to state law, drivers must have:
- Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: $30,000 minimum per person and $60,000 minimum per accident
- Property Damage Liability Coverage: $15,000 minimum
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage: $30,000 minimum per person and $60,000 minimum per accident
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage: $15,000 minimum
Do you see the coverage concerning uninsured motorists? That is going to be important here. This coverage is meant for this exact situation and covers you when the at-fault party does not have insurance. Your insurance company will evaluate your claim and pay out for both damage to your vehicle and the costs associated with your injuries. You can opt for more uninsured motorist coverage than this, but it cannot exceed your bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage. So you would have to increase those coverages as well before increasing your uninsured motorist coverage.
Pursuing Compensation from the Uninsured At-fault Party
That coverage may not be enough to cover everything though. According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the injuries from crashes totaled $18 billion in 2012. In that same year, $33 billion in lifetime work was lost. If you have just the minimum uninsured driver coverage, it may not end up paying out enough to compensate you for all expenses associated with your accident. In those cases, you need to file a civil suit against the other driver to recover damages. These can include, but are not limited to:
Medical Expenses: injuries from an accident could require medical attention. You could be entitled to compensation for the money you spent at the doctor’s office, at the hospital, or on prescriptions due to the collision.
Lost Wages: if you were out of work for any amount of time due to your accident, you lost out on pay. These lost wages could be a part of your compensation.
Reduced Earning Potential: an injury that leaves permanent damage and affects your ability to do your job can reduce how much you earn. If you think that your accident has led to a reduced earning potential, you could be entitled to damages.
Loss of Enjoyment: that injury that reduces your working capacity could also affect your ability to participate in activities or hobbies you once loved. Loss of enjoyment is not a monetary loss, but it could still be considered something that you should be compensated for.
Pain and Suffering: any other pain or stress that you experience due to your accident could also qualify you for additional compensation.
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Pursuing a case on your own can be difficult, but an accident where the at-fault party does not have car insurance can offer some complexities that make it even more worthwhile to have a lawyer on your side. A lawyer’s job is to evaluate your case and see if you have a claim, but they can also tell you if a case is not worth pursuing. A person without car insurance, for example, may not have much in the way of assets, making it unwise to pursue a legal case for more damages after your insurance company pays you what you are covered for. A lawyer can give you an honest evaluation.
With that in mind, contact the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow if you have been in an accident. Call us at (410) 777-8960 for a free consultation about your case and remember that you only pay us if you are found to be entitled to compensation.
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