Insure That You Are Fully Covered Before It’s Too Late by Joseph P. Hart, Esquire
You are driving your new Chevy Impala around the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway when, all of a sudden, the car in the lane to your left veers into you. The impact from the collision re-directs your car across 2 lanes of the Beltway and into a light pole on the median. Your airbag deploys, the entire front end of your car is pulverized, and, while the dust is settling, you are beginning to sense that something serious and grotesque has happened but it happened so fast that you have not yet comprehended the magnitude of the life altering episode.
The Police and Paramedics arrive to strap you to a backboard and take you to Holy Cross Hospital where it is determined that you may have fractured several vertebrae, ruptured several discs, and maybe even suffered permanent paralyzation as a result of the split second automobile collision . As you converse with your family and your doctors at the hospital and they sort through the medical details, the last thing on your mind is whether the car that struck you was insured or for how much, and who is going to be responsible for payment of your medical expenses or compensate you for the potential loss of your ability to walk and to continue your gainful employment in your position where you earn a $75,000.00 salary.
For the next couple of days and weeks you, your doctors and your family are hoping and praying that the damage will not be permanent and that, if there is any type of permanent physical disability, it will not be life altering and will allow you to return to your job and normal everyday enjoyment of life. The days and weeks pass and you find out that you have herniated several discs in your neck, that no vertebrae were fractured and that, after a 2 week stay in the hospital, your doctor has scheduled you for surgery on your spine and that, after approximately 6 months of convalescing, you may be able to return to your job and start re-living life as it was prior to the accident.
Before you get this medical news, however, you find out that the car that caused the injury carried a minimal insurance policy and only $20,000.00 is available for all of the injuries they have caused you. You then contact your own insurance agent and you find out that you carry an insurance policy for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, however the amount of coverage which you carry is only $25,000.00. That $25,000.00 is the maximum amount that you can recover from all insurance companies responsible for payment of damages suffered by you and your family as a result of this catastrophic life-altering split second accident on the Capital Beltway.
Every day that you or your loved ones are in an automobile you run the risk of becoming one of the millions of people every year who may be seriously injured, and/or cause serious injuries to others, as the result of a Maryland motor vehicle crash.
We all know that there is no way possible to guarantee that every driver operating a motor vehicle is adequately insured to pay for the injuries or damages which they may cause due to their negligent driving. Automobile insurance coverage varies from vehicle to vehicle with some drivers opting for more coverage, others less and some, unfortunately, choosing to operate a vehicle with no insurance despite the fact that it against the law to do so. While you cannot control the amount of insurance coverage that is carried by other vehicle operators you can insure that adequate coverage exists to protect you and your loved ones should you become injured in any fashion as the result of a Maryland motor vehicle collision, either as a driver, passenger or pedestrian.
In addition to liability coverage, each auto insurance policy written in the State of Maryland must carry uninsured motorist coverage in the event that any persons riding in an insured vehicle are injured by another who is uninsured. This coverage allows the insured vehicle owner to make a claim against their own insurance company for damages they may sustain as a result of the uninsured status of the other driver. Also under Maryland law, each automobile policy must carry protection for underinsured motorist coverage which would be triggered in the event that a negligent driver causes injury to you or others in your vehicle following a Maryland car crash, but does not have adequate coverage to cover the injuries. Maryland also requires each automobile policy to carry a minimum of $15,000.00 for property damage, both for damages they may cause to another vehicle or for damage caused to their vehicle by an uninsured or underinsured vehicle.
With over 36 years involved in the practice of law, I believe the single most important portion of your Maryland Automobile Insurance Policy is your uninsured/underinsured motorist protection coverage.