Auto accident claims in Maryland are surprisingly complex to deal with in part because of the regressive laws that still prevail in Maryland and also because there are potentially many insurance claim methods to follow. This article is not intended to be exhaustive but discusses different scenarios to consider when getting injured in a car accident in Maryland.
First, if you sustain a collision injury while on the job, you will likely have a workers compensation claim. Corporate claims provide many beneficial benefits with a relatively quick turnaround. These include lost income or temporary total or partial disability benefits, payment for medical and prescription services, vocational rehabilitation services, and permanent disability.
One of the enormous advantages of worker companies over claims against fault insurance companies, is that the benefits are almost immediate. There is no waiting for settlement, which usually considers completing all medical treatment and compiling all medical records and billing and negotiating with the two adjusters.
Once you file a comp claim form with the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission, the insurer has 30 days to contest the claim or begin paying benefits. The benefit of this is hard to overstate especially for seriously injured people. This also means that Medicare costs are paid and that’s huge as well.
The payments are 2/3s of an individual’s average weekly wage with the weekly limit being higher from year to year. Permanent disability is somewhat mislabeled because it is almost always not permanent but nonetheless beneficial. So if you have a legitimate basis for filing a Maryland workers comp claim as a result of a car or truck accident, do so.
If worker comps are not available, the traditional claims methods are claims against the faulty driver’s insurance company, against the faulty driver’s employer if they were working when the accident occurred and against your car insurance.
We often hear reluctance from our customers to make claims against their auto policy for fear of their prices going up. This is wrong because Maryland has an error-based insurance system and if you’re making claims out of necessity rather than error, you should be fine.
Claims against at-fault driver’s or employer’s insurance cover a broad spectrum including vehicle repair or replacement, car rentals, medical expenses, lost income, lost family services, and of course pain and suffering.
The problem is that errant drivers often have inadequate insurance coverage, and this is often where your own policy can play an important role.
First, many Marylanders pay for medpay and personal injury protection coverage that can serve to cover medical costs related to accidents and lost time from work. This benefit exists even if you have been compensated for medical costs and lost work by the insurance company at fault. Not taking advantage of PIP and medpay literally means leaving money on the table by not using the insurance coverage you paid for.
The second most important claim you can file against your policy involves coverage for uninsured drivers. This is obviously very important when you are in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance but who has another lesser known benefit.
This feature is “uninsured” coverage. This feature is activated when the faulting driver’s liability insurance company offers the full amount of Personal Injury Compensation coverage and when this amount is less than the value of the injury claim and less than the amount of the uninsured/insured minus the insurance held by the injured victim.
For example, our client K was badly injured in a crash in Maryland and eventually required neck surgery and incurred over $200,000.00 in medical expenses. The responsible driver had a Maryland minimum liability insurance of $30,000.00. This amount was well below the value of K’s claim and fortunately he has $250.000.00 in uninsured/uninsured insurance.
Under Maryland law, the first $30,000 of compensation comes from driver-at-fault insurance and the remainder of the compensation is uninsured coverage minus the amount paid by the fault insurance company or $250,000 – $30,000 = $220,000.
While there are a range of other insurance coverage issues in car and truck accidents in Maryland, the nuances warrant discussion with an experienced attorney.
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