Am I Entitled To Recover If The At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
The top personal injury and car accident attorneys in Baltimore Attorney Eric T. Kirk, Maryland encounter this situation with some degree of frequency.
Keep in mind that this article addressed s a situation where an individual is injured in a motor vehicle collision through no fault of their own, and that accident was caused by an individual that does not have liability insurance as required by Maryland law. The scope of this article is further limited to a situation where the individual injured in the car accident also does not have uninsured motorist coverage and does not qualify to make a claim against MAIF. These latter two scenarios are addressed in separate articles that can be found on this site. This article addresses only a situation where no one has insurance. So, to that extent, the question: “Are you entitled to recover if someone without insurance causes an accident and injured you”, is answered with a resounding “yes”. This guide highlights:
The unfortunate difference between being entitled to recover from someone and actually being able to recover from someone.
As anyone in this situation probably knows, the right to recovery and the realization of a recovery are two very distinct concepts. The rules that determine fault and responsibility for an accident are exactly the same whether or not the at-fault person has insurance. If you can prove in a court of law that the other person caused the accident, through an act of negligence, through no fault of your own, and that you suffered damage as a result of that accident [i.e. lost wages, incurred medical expenses, and/or sustained non-economic damage] then you are entitled to a judgment against that person for money damages. In a situation where an insurance company is involved, they will simply cut a check and satisfy that judgment. When there’s no insurance company involved, there most often is no one there to simply cut that check and pay the judgment. Many, if not most, people simply lack access to ready, liquid cash that would be available to satisfy a judgment and particularly a sizable judgment. Having said that, there are certainly enforcement and collection mechanisms available under the law to secure payment on the judgment.
- There are things like levy and execution -where the property of the judgment debtor is seized and sold, and the proceeds applied against the judgment.
- The garnishment of wages –where a portion of earnings are withheld by the employer, and then applied to the judgment- is also available.
As many collection attorneys will tell you, garnishments can be difficult propositions, especially where someone moves from job to job frequently. Moreover, if an individual does not own substantial property or have substantial assets, levy and execution are often impractical or impossible. The problems with collecting a judgment against an uninsured party frequently arise in the area of civil assault and the like. Almost all insurance policies will exclude coverage for intentional acts like assault and battery. The victim of such acts must typically collect any judgment from the individual assets of the person that assaulted them. The difficulties associated with collecting a judgment where there is not insurance are so daunting that some personal injury and car accident attorneys will not handle cases where there is no insurance involved. I approach these uninsured cases on a case by case basis, and engage in an analysis of the relative risks and rewards of litigation. You are an active participant in the process, and my opinions are of course shared with you to aid in your decision making. In an appropriate case, I have recovered many judgments from individuals directly, without the benefit of insurance.