Someone struck you here in Baltimore, and they either stopped and you discovered they were uninsured, or they didn’t pull over at all and instead fled the crash scene. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, that’s a good thing in a situation like this. However, if you’re wondering, “Do I need a lawyer for an uninsured motorist claim?” our skilled attorneys will hash that question out (and more) below.
What To Know About Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Maryland
Much like other states, Maryland has mandatory minimum insurance requirements. One of those requirements is uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This means that your insurer should step in and pay any accident-related expenses you incur if the driver who strikes you either does not have insurance or has inadequate coverage to pay for the damages they caused. UM coverage would also cover you if a hit-and-run driver struck you.
Although the Maryland Insurance Administration describes this UM/UIM coverage as mandatory, the insured can actually waive this coverage, in which case they wouldn’t be able to rely on it helping them cover their accident-related expenses if the party who struck them had no or insufficient coverage.
So, the importance of detailing how UM/UIM works is to help you understand that while you might be able to rely on filing an uninsured motorist claim, it might not be an option for you if you waived coverage at some point.
For the record, there is an Enhanced Underinsured Motorist Coverage, which we previously wrote about on our blog that went into effect in 2018, that allows plaintiffs to stack coverage, if available, when requesting financial recovery.
You can request a copy of your “insurance rider,” which details your coverage limits. You should also bring this information to your initial case consultation with an attorney if you’ve suffered injuries in an accident and you’re looking to recover compensation.
The Maryland Pure Contributory Negligence Standard and Uninsured Motorist Claims
Maryland is one of a small handful of states that subscribes to the pure contributory negligence standard. Under this doctrine, a motorist cannot recover damages if they are at fault for a crash. If you’re wondering how this impacts your filing of an uninsured motorist claim, it may mean that your insurer tries to not pay the benefits you believe that you’re entitled to. A common tactic that insurers and their attorneys utilize in cases like these is to claim that you were responsible for the crash and your residual injuries.
It’s also important for you to know that it’s even possible for an uninsured motorist to secure compensation if they suffered injuries in a crash, as our firm discussed in an earlier blog. This generally can only happen if they didn’t engage in negligence that caused the collision (i.e., there was a defective auto part or a chain-reaction crash caused by someone else).
Factors To Weigh When Deciding Whether To Have an Attorney Handle Your UM Claim
There are a few factors you should consider if you’re on the fence about whether to seek a lawyer’s assistance with your UM/UIM claim in Maryland, some of which include:
- How clear-cut liability is
- The seriousness of your injuries
- How much your medical bills are
Generally, the higher your medical bills are, the more likely it is that your auto insurance carrier will aggressively fight your claim. If your losses are fairly low, you can generally handle your case independently.
How a Lawyer Helps in Maryland Uninsured Motorist Cases
If there are significant losses, such as severe injuries or a fatality, an experienced attorney’s expertise will be invaluable in helping compile the evidence necessary to strengthen your claim.
Also, insurance companies, whether another motorist’s or your own, are notorious for being mindful of their bottom line. Their goal is always to keep expenditures down, and this includes when settling your uninsured motorist claim.
Attorneys like ours at Belsky & Horowitz, LLC are skilled negotiators. Your best chance for securing maximum compensation that will cover your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other accident-related expenses is to have a car accident lawyer handle all correspondence with insurance adjusters from the get-go until after they’ve made their settlement offer and you sign the release of all claims in your case.
And, an attorney like ours can take your case to trial if reaching an amicable settlement with your uninsured motorist carrier seems improbable, or they seem intent on offering a much lower offer than what you need to pay your outstanding bills. Addressing the case in a courtroom may also be necessary if an insurer acts in bad faith by not promptly processing the claim and extending a settlement offer when liability is clear.
Last, insurers tend to take claims or lawsuits more seriously when attorneys are involved. Why is that? They do so because they know that lawyers understand the laws that apply and what fair and just settlements in cases look like. They know that legal counsel is generally unrelenting in pursuing justice and know that the financial consequences of not settling may mean that they end up spending more than they initially thought they might need to.
All this being said, if you’ve been hurt in an accident or lost a loved one in a preventable crash, while there’s no law that says that you must have a legal representative forward your claim on your behalf, it’s in your best interest to do so. Our Baltimore uninsured motorist accident attorneys have helped countless clients in and around our city with uninsured motorist claims. They are eager to sit down with you to review your case to see if we can assist you as well, so reach out to schedule a free consultation today.