Technically, the negligent driver is on the hook to pay for your damages under Maryland personal inuury law. One of the primary principles of tort law is that you must pay for your mistakes. However, the actual payment almost always comes from an insurance company.
Maryland requires everyone driving a car to have insurance that covers them if they cause a car accident. The insurance company must provide the other driver with a lawyer, and will pay for the damages caused in the car accident. But they will only pay up to the limits of the insurance policy. So your damages in a Maryland car accident will almost always be covered by insurance – up to the limits of the other driver’s insurance policy.
How much insurance coverage does the other person have? You won’t know that at first. They do not have to disclose that. But the minimum level of car insurance in Maryland is $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident no matter how many people are involved. This is called a 30/60 policy. That is NOT enough to cover you while driving on the road. In fact, it is ridiculously low.
With the cost of medical treatment today, that is not going to cover you if you cause a car accident resulting in even medium sized injuries, much less serious injuries. People should have more than the state minimum insurance. If you get in an accident, you have to hope that the other driver has a policy large enough to cover your damages.
What if the negligent driver had no insurance, or too little insurance? Don’t fear. You actually have your own insurance for that situation. This is called uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) and you will probably see it on your car insurance policy if you look. It also covers you for a hit and run driver, known as a phantom vehicle case.
Look on your car insurance policy’s declarations page (the page with the numbers on it showing all your coverage) and see what level of UM/UIM coverage you have. If the other driver has less than that amount of coverage, you can make a claim for up to that total amount (the other person’s car insurance plus the remaining amount from yours).
For instance, if you have $100,000 UM/UIM coverage, and the other person only has $30,000 liability coverage, you can get a maximum of $100,000 in your case ($30,000 from their insurance, plus $70,000 from your own car insurance policy equals $100,000 total).
Of course, having enough car insurance is it’s own topic. To discover what you need to know about insurance coverage, including our recommended amounts and why we recommend those levels, click this link to our News & Views post on automobile liability insurance coverage.