If I Was Driving Without Insurance Involved and In A Motor Vehicle Accident. Can I Recover Compensation For My Losses?
If you were operating a motor vehicle in Maryland without carrying the required insurance coverage on that car, you may have committed a violation of the Transportation Article. If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident under those same circumstances and did not cause or contribute to that accident, the fact that you were operating a motor vehicle without required insurance would not preclude you from recovering your losses from the at-fault party. Your failure to carry insurance, innocent or intentional, is not considered material to the cause of the accident. Of course, under Maryland law, if you contributed to the accident in even the smallest way you would be barred from any recovery whatsoever on contributory negligence principles.
However, the lack of insurance, standing alone, would not preclude you from recovering for personal injury including- economic and non-economic losses- or property damage to your vehicle.
The conscientious driver must be aware though, that operating a motor vehicle without insurance means that you don't have benefits required by Maryland law that would otherwise be available to you through your own insurance policy.
You may* carry personal injury protection [PIP] benefits under your own insurance policy. These are considered first-party benefits, and they are available to you and the passengers of your car on a no-fault basis and will cover things such as lost wages and medical expenses incurred as the result of an accident. You are required to carry such insurance coverage unless you affirmatively waive that coverage in writing. If you don't have insurance on your car at all, obviously this benefit is not available to you or your passengers. Similarly, Maryland law requires that vehicle owners carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on their own insurance policy. This is also considered a first-party benefit and operates when one is involved in an accident caused by a person who themselves lack insurance or sufficient insurance coverage. If the individual that caused the accident is uninsured altogether, your coverage operates to provide a source of recovery and compensation for you and your passengers on a primary basis.
If the at-fault party, on the other hand, lacks sufficient insurance to cover all damages the underinsured provisions of your own coverage operate to provide a supplemental source of recovery for you and your passengers to bridge the gap between available liability coverage and actual damages sustained.
Obviously, here again, if you don't have insurance on your vehicle at all this benefit is not available to you or the occupants of your car. Irrespective of your insurance status, if another individual or series of individuals cause a motor vehicle accident and cause you to sustain damage to your vehicle or your person, then you are entitled to monetary compensation from them or their liability insurance coverage. The fact that you have chosen to operate, or indeed mistakenly operate, your vehicle without insurance -although it may well be considered a violation of the motor vehicle laws- is not considered evidence of negligence, and will not preclude your recovery for your loss, if you are otherwise entitled.
*The Assembly has recently enacted a change in this process. Marylanders now have the option of carrying less insurance. An insured may now reject personal injury protection altogether, under specific circumstances. See Insurance Article, Md. INSURANCE Code Ann. § 19-506.1.
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 8/29/19.