After a car accident, the parties involved usually exit their vehicles if they can and exchange information such as names, contact information, car information, and insurance policy information. This way, everyone can move forward with notifying their insurance company and car accident claims. But sometimes, the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance, or their insurance won’t cover the damage of the accident. But this doesn’t mean that the injured party is completely out of luck.
If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver who doesn’t have insurance for the accident, you may not know what to do next. It’s important to know that you can seek legal aid. A Baltimore uninsured motorist accident lawyer from Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC will help you get compensation for the accident.
Before learning more about uninsured or underinsured claims, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terms and what Maryland’s current laws are regarding these matters.
What Is an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist?
Uninsured and underinsured motorists can make car accident claims a bit more difficult than typical car accident claims. In case you’re unsure of what the difference is, here are the definitions for both:
- Uninsured Motorist. The driver who was at fault for the accident and doesn’t have liability insurance.
- Underinsured Motorist. The at-fault driver has liability insurance, but it’s not enough to cover the damages from the accident. Another way to determine if a motorist is underinsured is if the injured party’s uninsured motorist coverage is higher than the at-fault driver’s bodily injury insurance limits.
Uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage isn’t just for instances where the other party’s insurance won’t cover your expenses. It can also be used for hit-and-run accidents, where the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident. This is a crime and can also be frustrating to deal with because you don’t have any information about the other driver. But this coverage can be used so the financial responsibility doesn’t fall solely on your shoulders.
What Is Minimum Liability Coverage?
In Maryland, it’s the law for drivers to have minimum liability coverage, but this doesn’t mean that everyone follows the law. Minimum liability covers the following:
- $30,000 per person for bodily injury.
- $60,000 per accident for bodily injury.
- $15,000 for property damage.
Even if the negligent party has this minimum coverage, it may not be enough to cover your injuries or damage done to your vehicle. This could potentially leave you with most of the financial burden either through your own insurance or out of your pocket—when none of the damages were your fault. If you can’t afford the bills, you may be faced with a situation that could hurt your credit. This can create a lot of financial stress and it’s not fair because you didn’t cause the accident.
But uninsured motorist coverage isn’t the only option you have. Let’s take a look at other coverage choices that Maryland insurers offer.
Enhanced Uninsured Motorist Coverage
There is another form of coverage that you should be aware of. Enhanced Uninsured Motorist Coverage offers the same benefits as UM coverage but has a difference if a claim is made. With this coverage, the at-fault party’s insurer’s coverage does not reduce the coverage limit.
The state of Maryland offers this coverage when people are buying an insurance policy, but not when they’re renewing it. The biggest incentive to get this insurance is that it offers more protection in the event of a crash with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
The person who was wrongfully injured can do what is referred to as “stacking” insurance policies. This means they can cover potential gaps left in the coverage. The amount you can recover includes the at-fault driver’s liability insurance and your enhanced coverage. The stacking method allows the person to recover more money. This can be a major help when dealing with the aftermath of an accident. They will have coverage for medical expenses and future care, missing work, and other damages.
One thing you need to know is that you have to opt-in for this kind of coverage. Without the correct paperwork, you cannot get this coverage.
What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of this Coverage?
It’s good to know that policies are being put in place to update how coverage works and to provide more help to drivers. Enhanced uninsured motorist coverage does have its advantages, but it also has disadvantages.
- Allows drivers to stack policies.
- EUMC was made to give drivers more coverage and protection if they get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
- The bill could lead to higher premiums.
While the coverage itself could give the driver more money in compensation, this may lead to an overall rise in premiums.
This increase in cost could make keeping up with each month’s expenses a little more difficult. People may not want to raise their premium cost because they may not be able to afford this coverage. There’s also a chance they won’t want to use this higher-priced coverage because they think there’s a slim chance they’ll get in an accident with an underinsured driver.
What Can You Potentially Receive with an Uninsured Motorist Claim?
A car accident can cause severe injuries that put your life on hold, regardless of the responsible party’s insurance coverage. Your injuries could be causing overwhelming financial stress from hospital bills or future rehabilitation, missing work because your injuries are preventing you from doing your job, or worrying about your damaged car. When you weren’t at fault, your claim can get you compensation for what you’ve gone through.
Your compensation can help you cover:
- Medical Expenses.
- Pain and Suffering.
- Lost Wages.
- Property Damage.
This financial support will help you get peace of mind that you can recover from this accident. When you’re not worrying about expenses, you can focus on healing your injuries and moving forward.
What Does Your Uninsured Motorist Claim Require?
The main issue in uninsured motorist cases usually comes down to the insurance company undercutting your accident and the high costs of medical expenses and vehicle damage. Your goal is to show that your claim is worth more.
- Act Within the Statute of Limitations. In Maryland, there’s a time limit of three years to settle an uninsured motorist coverage claim. It’s important to contact a lawyer about your case as soon as possible so you have plenty of time to reach a favorable outcome.
- Evidence of Their Negligence. One component that can help show negligence is photographs of the scene. This can include where the accident happened and closeups of the cars that show the damage. Any eyewitnesses to the accident can help as well.
- Their Negligence Caused Your Injuries. Copies of your medical records like hospital visits, x-rays or tests, and prescription medication will prove that your injuries were caused by this accident.
- How Your Injuries Affected You. Show how your injuries are preventing you from working or living your everyday life. For some, they may have suffered from injuries that will have permanent consequences that will change their lifestyle.
Before making any decisions, you should meet with your uninsured motorist lawyer so you don’t do anything that will prohibit you from filing your claim or forcing you to settle for less than you deserve. Your attorney will understand the claims process and what you have to do to pursue your uninsured motorist case successfully.
You may not discover the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy right away. When you do find out, it will still take time to factor in your claim and if their insurance will or won’t cover it all. This process can take a while because your personal injury lawyer will have to determine how much medical care you’ve had and will need in the future, the work you’ve missed and will have to miss, and the amount of damage done to your vehicle.
How Can Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC Help You?
You deserve to have someone on your side who will ensure that your voice is heard and your rights are protected. Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC represents those injured in Baltimore and throughout Maryland, and we’re ready to help you.
Claims involving uninsured or underinsured motorists are often incredibly complex. When you add different coverages into the mix, you’re probably going to have questions about how it all works and what you can potentially recover. Our skilled Baltimore attorneys are experienced and well-versed in Maryland’s laws, and we’ll be able to provide answers.
We won’t let insurance companies harass you. After the accident, you may find that insurance adjusters are contacting you and trying to get you to settle early or make an official statement. Settling early means you run the risk of getting less compensation than you deserve. Making an official statement could be used against you later so you don’t get a fair settlement. We’ll make sure that you don’t jeopardize your claim in any way, and we’ll deal with insurance adjusters so you don’t have to.
Give us a call today to schedule a free consultation of your case. You will meet with one of our Baltimore skilled uninsured motorist accident lawyers and they will review the merits of your case and discuss your legal options. You can rest assured that we’re acting in your best interests.