Being involved in a traffic accident is hardly an event that anyone would want to relive, but to be seriously injured as a result of a negligent driver’s actions only makes the situation more regrettable. While many auto, truck and motorcycles collisions are the result of simple driver error, the victims are usually left to face days or months of physical recovery time; some may never fully recover from what can certainly end up being a major life-changing experience.
As a Maryland personal injury law firm, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, is well aware that many roadway accidents are caused by outright negligence. However, sometimes the negligent party had been avoiding his or her responsibilities long before the crash that seriously injured or killed an innocent victim. For many conscientious car and truck owners, it’s hard to believe that there are people driving around in cities like Baltimore, Gaithersburg and the District who have little or no auto insurance coverage on their vehicle.
For the most part, these individuals run the risk of being fined or having their licenses suspended if found out by the police during a routine traffic stop. Unfortunately, a percentage of uninsured drivers do not come to the attention of the authorities until they are involved in a car, truck or motorcycle wreck. It is because of this segment of the driving population that the insurance industry offers uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Here in Maryland, this coverage applies in two separate instances. In the first, the at-fault driver is found to be carrying no liability insurance. In the second instance, the at-fault driver does have some liability coverage, but the at-fault driver's policy limits are actually lower than that of the victim’s uninsured motorist coverage. To put it simply, uninsured/underinsured driver coverage is insurance that covers a victim’s accident just as his liability insurance would provide compensation for any individual who may be hurt as a result of that person’s careless driving. This type of uninsured/underinsured automobile insurance coverage usually also extends to the driver’s family members who live in his or her household and anyone who is injured in that person’s vehicle.
It is important to note that under Maryland’s insurance statutes, an auto insurance policyholder has the right to waive uninsured/underinsured driver coverage only if the policyholder signs a written waiver of coverage. Anyone who wonders if they have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage likely has it in effect so long as they did not expressly waive it.
As mentioned previously, uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage exists mainly because there are still a significant number of uninsured drivers plying our roadways here in Maryland. Back in 2009, the Insurance Research Council estimated that more than one in ten drivers in the United States had no auto insurance coverage at all. Here in Maryland, we tend to have a much lower incidence of uninsured drivers, but there are still some out there.
As experienced personal injury and auto accident attorneys, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen knows that those who risk legal action from the state by eschewing an automobile insurance policy tend to be the same individuals who may take other, more physical risks on our beltways, surface streets and interstates. It is not uncommon for a significant number of injury-related Maryland auto accident cases to involve an uninsured motorist claim. Further to this point, even those who do have some amount of automobile insurance often do not carry a sufficient amount to satisfy a serious injury accident claim.
Although the concept of uninsured motorist coverage is sometimes difficult for victims of a negligence-related traffic accident to understand, a qualified personal injury attorney can help clear up any questions as well as pave the way for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party(s). In general, if the at-fault driver (the UM) does not have insurance or has too low of a coverage limit, the victim’s auto insurance company will essentially step in and take the place of the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This includes paying for any settlement or judgment; but it also means defending the at-fault driver against the victim’s personal injury claim.
As legal professionals, the trial attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled in representing victims of serious and fatal traffic collisions as well as their families. We are ready to discuss your automobile, motorcycle or commercial trucking accident case and to advise you of your rights under the laws of this state. Our legal staff collects all the relevant facts and information surrounding the accident in question, including the gathering of police reports and accounts of witness to the crash. We always prepare your case with the full intent of taking the case to trial.
In injury cases involving a hit-and-run driver, even without a responsible party, as a victim one may still be able to recover accident-related costs such as medical and rehabilitation bills, damages for pain and suffering, as well as lost wages. In cases where the negligent driver is unknown, the law specifies that a claim can be brought under the injured driver’s own insurance policy, via the uninsured motorist provision, by treating the hit-and-run driver the same as an uninsured motorist.
It is important to note that a number of other states require that the victim of a hit-and-run driver have been in actual contact with the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle in order to bring a personal injury claim. Under the Maryland statutes, however, contact is not a required condition and therefore Maryland courts will not enforce any auto insurance policy provisions from out-of-state insurers that specify physical contact as a requirement before allowing a claim of this sort.
Especially in cases where one has been the victim of an uninsured or underinsured motorist, there is no good reason not to consult a qualified personal injury attorney regarding your traffic accident-related case. Because your life, not to mention your financial future and that of your family may be at stake, fighting for due compensation is a right that should not be forfeited when another individual has acted negligently. Whether you seek compensation for medical costs, rehab expenses, lost wages, or pain and suffering, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen is ready to help. Contact us today at (800) 654-1949 or, email Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.