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Can I Sue an Uninsured Driver in Maryland?
While all drivers or registered car owners in the state of Maryland are required by law to have automobile insurance, not everyone abides by that mandate. So it is unfortunately not unusual for people to be involved in accidents where the at-fault driver is uninsured. And in those situations, the question becomes whether you can sue that driver and, if so, what options do you have to ensure that you can collect a judgment should one be entered in your favor.
The short answer to the main question is yes – you can sue an uninsured driver in Maryland. However, the longer and more complicated question is how? And this question requires the involvement of an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney.
At the outset, it is important to be aware that while you would sue the at fault uninsured driver, any settlement or judgment payment would be through the Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) provision of your own insurance policy. Maryland law requires that insurance companies provide UM/UIM coverage which ensures that you are protected in exactly these situations.
The Two Classes of Uninsured Drivers
There are two main situations involving uninsured drivers which can lead to insurance claims and ultimately litigation. The first involves what the law refers to as phantom or “hit and run” drivers. Phantom drivers may actually have insurance, but because they fled the scene, for purposes of that case, they are essentially deemed to be uninsured.
The second scenario involves an identified driver, but who has no insurance. While they may receive a criminal citation for driving with no insurance, that doesn’t resolve the problem of the injured parties who are looking to receive fair compensation for their injuries.
In either situation, you have the ability to file and pursue a claim under the uninsured motorist provision of your own insurance policy.
Who Do I Sue?
Any claim against the driver of the vehicle which caused the accident would be based on a negligence theory in that they breached a tort duty owed to you and other drivers. However, to the extent you have to pursue a claim against your own insurance company, that would be a breach of contract claim. Simply stated, your insurance company did not breach a tort duty; the allegation is that they owed you a contractual duty to cover damages sustained as a result of an accident caused by an uninsured driver. And by failing to do that, they have breached that contractual duty.
In fact, there are situations where you would need to sue both the driver AND your insurance company in the same action and make sure that you have the correct cause of action identified for both.
The Importance of Having a Knowledgeable Attorney
As is clear from the above, UM/UIM scenarios are complex and can be overwhelming if not handled by an experienced and knowledgeable Maryland personal injury attorney. Ensuring that you have the maximum amount of insurance available – whether through your policy or someone else’s – is essential to obtaining the best possible result in every individual case.
Author: Neil Dubovsky, founder and principal at Dubo Law, LLC
Neil Dubovsky graduated with Honors and magna cum laude from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2002. He received the prestigious Faculty Award, which was awarded to the student who best “exhibited unusual qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.” Neil also received an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale Hubbell – the highest rating possible. He is rated as one of the Top 100 Civil Trial Lawyers in Maryland by the National Trial Lawyers Association and selected to the 2022 Maryland Super Lawyers list. Neil is a husband and father of two beautiful girls.
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