Articles Posted in Uninsured Motorists

Rod Gaston will speak on Advanced Underinsured/Underinsured Motorist Law at the Treemont Grand Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland on Friday, March 9, 2012. You can get information here.

Rod will provide information both on Maryland uninsured motorist law and how to use that law to maximize the value of serious car and truck accident claims in Maryland. If you can’t make the seminar, you can also order the audio CD and course materials.

For years, Maryland law—specifically Insurance Code Section 19-513—expressly prohibited the stacking of insurance policies. This meant that for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, the insurer was liable to its insured for the full amount of the accident victim’s damages minus the amount paid by the liability carrier or the Defendant.

After years of criticism for this, the Maryland legislature finally changed the law. As of July 1, 2018, insurance companies who write private auto policies in Maryland are required to offer something called Enhanced Underinsured Motorist Coverage (EUIM). Insureds who chose to add EUIM to their policy will be able to “stack” coverage to ensure they receive full compensation up to their UIM limits. This means that drivers with EUIM can get a policy limit settlement and still get the full policy limits of their UIM coverage.

Here is a simplified example to demonstrate how stacking will work for drivers with the new EUIM coverage and for drivers who don’t have EUIM coverage:

When you prepare a client for deposition, you can prepare them for hours but it is hard to give them a feel for what the process is really like. Short of taking them to a deposition, it is hard to get someone all the way there mentally. But you have to get your clients as close as you can to understanding what is coming in as complete a way as is practicable.

I think one more thing you can do so they get an idea of what the deposition questions will be is simply showing them a deposition or two so they can see the question defense counsel will pose.

There is a popular conception that lawsuits in car accident cases are filed directly against the insurance companies. It is easy to understand the source of the confusion. The insurance company that insured the driver of the vehicle will stand behind their insured and pay any claim up to the policy limit of the policy. The insurance company will also decide how much to offer as a settlement, not the actual defendant, who is usually kept in the dark on the entire process from initial settlement offer through the tactics the insurance company will take at trial.

Technically, in Maryland car accident lawsuits are generally filed against the defendant themselves. This technical distinction makes a difference at trial because the jury is not told there is insurance behind the case under Maryland’s collateral source rule. I remember trying a case against a defendant once where we got a good verdict ($298,000 award after a $25,000 offer before trial). When we met with the jurors after the trial, their big concern was whether there was insurance because they were concerned that the defendant—who was a pretty good guy—would have to pay the verdict themselves.

The exception to this is underinsured/uninsured motorist cases. In Maryland, claims are brought directly against the insurance company. To serve an insurance company defendant with a lawsuit in Maryland, you can serve the Maryland Insurance Administration. It looks like this:

I hate to be a shrill for the insurance companies. Maryland accident lawyers and insurance companies rarely hold hands on an issue related to car accidents and insurance. But there is one thing we both agree on when it comes to uninsured motorist limits: they should be high. How much? That depends on how comfortable you are, but I just don’t think it makes sense to have less than $1 million in uninsured motorist coverage.

No one has given a good answer as to how many people are uninsured in Maryland and I think Maryland is doing a better job of keeping uninsured motorists off the road (the FR-19 system). But our accident lawyers know one thing for sure: people who are uninsured disproportionately cause more accidents than people who have valid car insurance. Why is this? I speculate that people who will take risks by having no car insurance also will take risks on the roads.

This argument takes particular force in cases if you have a preexisting condition such that you are more susceptible to an injury from the trauma of a car accident.

Certainly, State Farm is a major player in the auto accident insurance market share in Maryland, getting barely nudged out of the top spot by GEICO. According, Maryland accident lawyers see plenty of State Farm cases… over and over again. State Farm is not a bad company. They have quality accident lawyers in Maryland and good adjusters. In fact, the only issue our Maryland accident lawyers differ with State Farm over typically is the value of individual accident cases. The problem is, of course, is that value is the key ingredient in Maryland accident cases.

Our Maryland car accident lawyers lift up the veil behind State Farm in Maryland and explain some important details worth knowing in attempting to achieve a settlement with State Farm in the Baltimore-Washington area. Click on the preceding link for our attorneys’ analysis of State Farm.


In MAIF v. Baxter, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that Maryland law does not require a car insurer to provide uninsured motorist coverage to an uninsured stranger/pedestrian who is struck by a car driven by a person excluded under the insurer’s policy. Basically, the court found that the Maryland Legislature only required that UM coverage be extended to an “insured.”

For once, MAIF was – albeit accidentally – fighting for the good guys, because the pedestrian’s estate asserted a claim against the Uninsured Division of MAIF. The Plaintiff’s estate was relatively indifferent because the UM limit was $20,000 in either event. So, incredibly, we have MAIF fighting unsuccessfully to create good case law for Maryland accident lawyers.

I have not read the nuances of this case closely enough to find great flaws in the court’s interpretation of Maryland uninsured motorist law (and it does not sound as if reading MAIF’s briefs would be of much help in this regard). But this is just bad law. The woman is an innocent pedestrian walking down the street. There is insurance coverage on the car. That should be enough. (But I understand reasonable people can disagree with this premise.)

The recession has created another problem for Maryland accident victims: more uninsured motorist accident lawsuits. A new study indicates that one in six drivers in the U.S. might be driving without insurance by 2010. Uninsured drivers had been declining because of sharper enforcement efforts. (In Maryland, the hammer is the FR-19 which Maryland sends out every time you leave your current insurance company.) In fact, the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists in the United States decreased to 13.8% in 2007 from 14.9% in 2003, but it’s expected to sharply increase because of the recession.

A recent study estimated the number of uninsured motorists by using a ratio of insurance claims made by people injured by uninsured drivers to claims by people injured by insured drivers. I’m not sure about the accuracy and I doubt there is an entirely linear relationship, but the theory is that an increase of 1 percent in the unemployment rate causes a nearly three-quarters of a percent increase in the uninsured motorist rate.

That sounds incredibly high, but I don’t know. In Maryland, we have never really gotten a handle on the number of Maryland uninsured drivers. A study from 1977 – sorry it is all I have – suggested the uninsured motorist rate in Maryland was 2.8%. I cannot imagine it was that low, either.

Car insurance is mandatory throughout the country, including Maryland. Yet you would be amazed how many uninsured motorist claims we see every week. As many as 20% of Americans do not have car insurance. The numbers in Maryland have not been estimated in years (that I have seen, anyway) but while not approaching that figure, the number is still too high.

In Maryland, the legislature made uninsured motorist coverage mandatory in 1975.


Most car accidents occur with injuries. Maryland accident lawyers typically do not get involved in such cases, leaving accident victims to deal with handling the property damage claim and getting a rental car themselves.

Convincing the insurance company to provide a rental car is a hassle in some Maryland accident case, even if you have a lawyer much less without. This article on getting a rental car from the insurance company after an accident provides a few thoughts for those of you who are traveling solo without a Maryland accident lawyer.

Remember that one good way to take this issue out of play even further is to purchase rental reimbursement coverage. It costs very little – only $12 a year under most auto insurance policies – but it is an investment worth making.