What Happens if You Get into an Accident without Insurance?
In short, lacking car insurance will not necessarily prevent you from getting compensated for your injuries after a car accident in Baltimore. However, due to the penalties for non-compliance with state laws, it is never wise to drive without at least the minimum allowable coverage. And if you’re concerned about the financial burden of insurance, just keep in mind that the cost of getting an auto insurance policy is minimal compared to the cost of being sued and having to pay out of your own pocket. This article will explain Maryland auto insurance requirements, including the consequences of having an accident while uninsured.
Filing a Third Party Car Insurance Claim
There are two systems of auto insurance in the United States. A minority of states uses the no-fault system, in which car accident injury victims are compensated by their own insurers, up to certain thresholds. Depending on what sort of insurance coverage residents of no-fault states select, they may find themselves restricted from recovering non-economic damages, or compensation for losses which cannot be quantified (e.g. pain and suffering).
Maryland, like most states, uses the fault or at-fault system. In fault states, injury victims must establish that the other driver was to blame for the accident which occurred, hence the term fault as opposed to no-fault. Fault is ultimately determined through careful analysis of physical evidence, police reports, and expert testimony, which is why you should always be sure to request a police report after a crash or collision occurs.
But what are your options if you don’t have auto insurance?
In this scenario, accident victims can potentially file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. These types of claims are known as a third party claims, and are actually one of the most common types of auto insurance claims in the United States.
Obviously, the first step to making a third party claim is to contact the other driver’s insurance company. Contact information for some of the major auto insurance companies is listed below:
- Esurance — (800) 378-7262
- Geico — (800) 861-8380
- Liberty Mutual — (800) 837-5254
- Nationwide — (888) 890-4630
- Progressive — (800) 776-4737
- State Farm — (800) STATE-FARM (800-782-8332)
When you speak to the insurance company, be as specific and descriptive as possible. However, you should avoid making any statements which could be indicative of fault or blame on your part. You should consult with a personal injury attorney before contacting an auto insurance company, because it is critical to understand which types of statements could jeopardize your claim. For instance, even something as simple as making an apology could hurt your ability to get compensated.
It is also crucial to keep detailed records of all correspondence with the insurance company. Note every phone conversation you had, every letter you sent, and every notice you received in an organized folder. This will come in handy if the other driver contests your statements and the dispute escalates into a lawsuit.
Auto Insurance Requirements for Maryland Drivers
If you were at fault for the accident, and the other driver wins a lawsuit against you, you may be forced to pay damages out of your own pocket if you do not have insurance. Depending on the situation, this could include medical bills, property damage costs, lost wages, and other damages. If this possibility alone doesn’t give you more than enough reason to get auto insurance, consider this: car insurance is mandatory, which means there are consequences for non-compliance.
We’ll examine those penalties shortly, but first, let’s look at car insurance requirements in Maryland. State law, as of the date of this article, requires drivers to purchase three different types of car insurance:
- Liability Coverage — If the other driver was at fault for your vehicular accident, his or her liability coverage will help pay for your medical bills and other expenses. Liability coverage is actually comprised of three different components, whose minimums are listed below:
- Property Damage — $15,000
- Bodily Injury — $30,000 (per person)
- Total Bodily Injury — $60,000 (per accident)
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage — Maryland’s minimum PIP limit is $2,500. As the term implies, PIP coverage is intended to cover medical expenses caused by injuries. Your health insurance should chip in if your policy’s PIP limits are exceeded. It is possible to opt out of PIP coverage altogether by signing a waiver, but given the low cost of carrying PIP coverage, it is our opinion that the cost savings of opting out does not provide a reasonable benefit.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UI/UIM) Coverage — Needless to say, most people don’t have the financial resources to pay for damages out of pocket following an automotive accident, which is bad financial news for both parties involved. This is where uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage comes in. UI or UIM coverage helps to compensate injuries and property damage, with coverage minimums identical to those listed under liability coverage above.
Remember, these are only the mandatory types of coverage. You might also wish to consider additional, optional forms of coverage, such as comprehensive and collision coverage, which covers theft, fire, vandalism, flooding, and collisions with inanimate objects like telephone poles.
If drive without the mandatory coverage required by state law, the consequences are severe. To begin with, your Maryland license plates and vehicle registration will be suspended. The suspension will be noted on your vehicle record, which is accessible to law enforcement and certain court personnel. This will also prevent you from renewing or registering a vehicle. Additionally, you will be fined $150 for the first 30 days of not having insurance, plus a daily $7 fine for each day beyond the initial 30 days. (For example, if you went 90 days without insurance, you would be fined about $570, depending on the number of days in each month.)
you understand your legal options and fight for compensation on your behalf. To schedule a free, completely private legal consultation, call our law offices right away at (410) 583-8000.