Traffic Collisions Involving Underinsured Motorists

It’s a sad commentary that many people still are suffering from the effects of the economic downturn of the past decade. The financial shock that individuals and families have had to endure has forced many people to reevaluate their discretionary expenditures, such as family entertainment, vacations and recreation, as well as other so-called non-essentials. Sadly, the economic squeeze has also caused some car and truck owners to also cut back on their automobile insurance coverage.

While a small percentage of individuals may no longer feel obliged to carry any car insurance, there are many more who understand their legal obligation to have coverage for their car or truck but only the legal minimum. As Maryland personal injury lawyers, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understands how these underinsured motorists can affect the legal process when a serious car, truck or motorcycle accident necessitates a personal injury lawsuit, especially in cases where the underinsured driver is the at-fault party in the collision.

When litigating an injury-related traffic accident case involving an underinsured at-fault driver, there are actually two defendants: the underinsured driver who caused the roadway collision and the victim’s insurance company. As Baltimore automobile and commercial trucking injury attorneys, we often find that our clients are initially puzzled when they learn that they must sue their own insurance carrier for recovery of damages following an accident that they themselves did not cause. It is important to understand that this confusion is completely normal.

In situations where an at-fault driver is either underinsured or has no insurance at all, it is quite often the case that a direct suit against the victim’s insurance carrier is the only avenue since the defendant driver may only have minimum insurance coverage permitted by law in Maryland. In cases where a serious passenger car or motorcycle accident has occurred -- with the attendant high medical costs and hospital expenses -- very often the minimum liability coverage required by law is wholly insufficient to meet the personal injury claims brought against the responsible party.

In 2013, Maryland auto insurance statutes require that a registered vehicle be insured with a minimum coverage of $30,000 for bodily injury per person ($60,000 for injury to two or more individuals), plus $15,000 for property damage. With the current state of healthcare costs, these limits are easily exceeded in cases where the victim(s) are hospitalized with severe injuries such as compound bone fractures, internal bleeding, closed-head trauma or spinal cord damage. For this reason, when an underinsured driver is responsible for the traffic accident, the law provides for the victim to name his insurance carrier as a defendant as well.

The lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen are trained in personal injury law and have years of experience representing victims of car and commercial trucking collisions caused by the actions of a careless, reckless or negligent driver. As experienced trial lawyers we know that uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage was created to help victims pay for treatment of their injuries suffered at the hands of a bad driver, as well as their pain and suffering and possible lost wages related to the crash.

Here in Maryland, if an insurance company fails to settle an uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage claim, the situation is treated as a breach of contract. Because of this, there is a three-year statute of limitations that covers such breach of contract actions in this state. As a result, any person injured in a traffic accident who wishes to bring a claim following a car or motorcycle crash must file their case within three years of the date that the victim knew (or should have known) that he had a claim against the insurance company. A qualified Maryland personal injury attorney would be able to guide such victims through the process and advise their clients as to the time limits involved.

At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we are ready and willing to assist victims of beltway collisions, pedestrian accidents and motorcycle wrecks involving underinsured motorists, among other types of personal injury arising from the negligence of another individual. Understanding personal injury and insurance law is our job. Whether one is seriously hurt in a multi-car crash, hit-and-run accident or commercial trucking wreck, our legal team is prepared to help you recover damages resulting from your accident. In the tragic case of a wrongful death, our attorneys can assist the victim’s family recover medical costs, funeral expenses and damages for pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has been injured by an underinsured or uninsured driver, we recommend contacting a qualified personal injury attorney experienced in handling these types of injury-related incidents. The professional trial attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen are happy to speak with victims and their families regarding a case of bodily injury from a traffic-related collision. Please call our law offices at (800) 654-1949 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You may also email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up an appointment.