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Hit And Run: Understanding Your Maryland Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Insurance

Hit And Run: Understanding Your Maryland Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Insurance Lawyer, Gaithersburg, MDIt is vital in Maryland to have some form of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage with your insurance. Without it, you could easily end up finding yourself severely injured without a cent from any insurance company to help cover your medical costs. Understanding how that coverage works and in which situations it can apply is not always easy. This article aims to remedy that by discussing:
  • How to use your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage in different situations.
  • How UM/UIM coverage works when you are in a hit and run, a passenger, or partially at fault.
  • The limitations and claim processes involved in using your UM/UIM insurance.

What Is Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage And Why Do I Need It In Maryland?

Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) and Underinsured Motorist coverage (UIM) is insurance you purchase from your own insurance company. It is part of your car insurance coverage, and it allows you to make a claim against your own insurance company when you are involved in an accident with someone without insurance of their own (UM) or with insufficient insurance policy limits to cover the damages (UIM). Without it, as a driver, you have no recourse other than hoping the other driver is rich enough to sue, which is entirely impossible if you are struck by an unidentified driver during a hit-and-run.

Can You Make An Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Claim If You Are Involved In A Hit & Run Accident?

If you are hit by another driver who does not stick around to hand over their name and insurance, uninsured motorist coverage may very well be your only choice for covering the damages. If after a reasonable investigation, you still do not know who hit you or your vehicle, then they are deemed a phantom vehicle. Since that is included in the definition of an uninsured vehicle, you can then make an insurance claim to your own insurance to recover the costs of repairs or injuries if you have UM coverage. There are, however, some limits to UM and UIM coverage in Maryland.

What Are The Limitations Or Non-Covered Expenses In Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

The first and most important limit to any Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage is the policy limit you are paying for. If you are paying for UM and UIM coverage up to $100,000 that will obviously cost more than a $45,000 limit, but it could also end up making all the difference.

Does Uninsured Motorist Insurance Cover Diminished Value Damages In Maryland?

If you are in a collision and are at fault or partially at fault for the accident, the claim to fix your own vehicle will not cover the diminished value of the vehicle after repairs. However, if someone else hits you, they are responsible for the accident and the value your car has lost after repairs, allowing you to make a diminished value claim. Consider the case where somebody hits you, they are at fault, but they don’t have insurance. You can make a claim for your property damage under your own policy thanks to UM coverage. But under UM coverage, are you able to make a diminished value claim as well? This is an issue that is currently being disputed in Maryland courtrooms, and some insurance carriers are specifically adding language to exclude such scenarios. Whether or not diminished value damages are covered may depend on your specific policy and future court rulings. Despite Uninsured Insurance existing to stand in to cover anything the at-fault driver’s insurance would normally cover (and thus, logically, diminished value claims), the carriers are fighting tooth and nail to have it excluded. Which only goes to show where their priorities lie. Luckily, there are areas of law that are already clear and more or less set in stone for when you can make UM and UIM claims.

Can You File A UM/UIM Claim As A Passenger Or Pedestrian Hit By An Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist?

Drivers are not the only ones to get injured in car accidents and, therefore, not the only ones at risk from uninsured drivers. Passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and others are at risk, and can sometimes be covered by uninsured or underinsured coverage. If a passenger in your vehicle was injured in an accident because of someone who did not have insurance, you would be covered under your policy as the host vehicle as long as you had UM or UIM coverage. This can apply even if your passenger owned a car themselves and waived their own UM insurance because they are covered under your car. On the other hand, the reverse is also true. If hit by someone without insurance and both you and your passenger chose to not get uninsured motorist coverage, you are out of luck. You cannot even apply to the state government for coverage. However, if your passenger does not have a car and never chose to waive UM coverage, then they can seek help from the State’s Uninsured Motorist Fund. The same rules apply to pedestrians, as well, regardless of whether you were driving or not. If you were hit by an uninsured motorist, you can only get damages reimbursed through your own UM policy or through the government if you never turned down UM coverage. It should be noted that making claims against your own insurance for UM/UIM coverage is not always easy, even when you do have it.

How Does The Claim Process Work For Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Insurance? How Does It Differ From The Filing Of Regular Insurance Claims?

Bringing a claim against your own insurance for UM/UIM coverage is similar to making a regular insurance claim but with a few additional steps and conditions. First, for an uninsured motorist claim, you have to show the other driver was not insured. If it was a phantom vehicle where the other driver could not be identified, you have to show that you were unable to identify them and took reasonable steps to do so. In the underinsured motorist scenario, on the other hand, you have to go through the steps of making a claim against the other insurance. You would then send proof of a policy limit offer lower than your own from them to your insurance, all in hard physical copy and certified mail. After that, your UIM carrier has a 60-day window to either allow you to accept the other policy and sign a release against them, or not allow you to do that and tender the tortfeasor for the amount of the tortfeasor policy, and that way they retain the subrogation rights against the tortfeasor. These claims can also be refused if you were partially at fault.

If I Am Partially At Fault, Can I Still Make An Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Claim?

In Maryland, the concept of contributory negligence also applies to UM/UIM claims, just as it does to liability claims. This concept means if you are even partially at fault, you cannot claim damages from the other party in the case of an accident. This means that you would be barred from pursuing a claim, even against an uninsured motorist or phantom vehicle, if you were at fault. You have to actually have been shown to be at fault and would be subject to a fact-finder’s decision about it. This means you could end up being refused by the insurance company even if you thought you were not at fault when you filed the claim. Before filing a claim with your insurance for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, it is always wise to consult with an experienced attorney. For more information on Filing An Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (301) 670-0443 today.
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