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Is Maryland a No-Fault State For Car Accidents?

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What Is a No-Fault State for Vehicular Collisions?

When people hear the term “no-fault,” it’s typically divorce that first comes to mind. However, many states also have no-fault laws when it comes to auto accidents. Also known as personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, this is a form of coverage that reimburses a policyholder for their losses without regard to liability. Such laws can vary by state. So, is Maryland a no-fault state for car accidents?

The simple answer is “no.” In fact, most states do not have such insurance laws on the books. While legislatures can pass new laws at any time, decades have passed with fewer than 20 states requiring no-fault insurance coverage. In these states, an insurance carrier would be responsible for their policyholder’s losses, even if that person was not at fault for the collision. This system offers various benefits.

However, Maryland’s at-fault insurance laws have their own advantages.

At-Fault vs No-Fault Car Insurance

There are many citizens and legislators who would prefer if Maryland was a no-fault car accident state. This system expedites injury claims and results in less of a burden on the court systems. When insurers have to cover their policyholder’s losses without factoring in fault, things are often straightforward and simple. However, such laws do not always result in fair compensation following car accidents.

That’s because PIP insurance often does not account for non-economic losses. This means that — if Maryland was a no-fault state for car accidents — injury victims might have trouble recovering damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and similar losses. Without the ability to seek such financial compensation, it’s easy to see how negligence victims may never receive complete justice.

For instance, imagine a cyclist suffers catastrophic injuries when a motorist runs them over. While no-fault insurance may cover their hospital bills and lost wages, would this fully reimburse the victim? What if they’re never able to walk again, or what if they live in constant pain? No-fault car accident laws in Maryland wouldn’t take any of this into account. It’s easy to see the potential harm in such a system.

How Does Maryland At-Fault Insurance Work?

In states that do not have no-fault car insurance, insurers only pay for damages when their policyholder is liable for injuries. There are certainly nuances when it comes to things like uninsured motorist and similar coverages, but there’s a reason that Maryland and other places are known as “tort states.” Put simply, the liable party is responsible for the consequences of their wrongful act (i.e., tort).

In some instances, this may be a simple process. For instance, violating reckless driving laws could make it clear that a third party is responsible for an accident. In such cases, their insurance company may jump at the opportunity to offer a fair settlement. And even if they refuse to fairly compensate an accident victim, they may have difficulty in court trying to explain why they shouldn’t have to pay.

Unfortunately, not all cases are straightforward. Perhaps there are multiple parties who share some level of fault. It’s also possible that the responsible party may lie about what happened. And while responding officers will try their best to figure out what happened in an accident, they can’t read minds or see into the past. This is why it’s typically beneficial to work with a personal injury attorney.

Contributory Negligence in Maryland

Car accidents often involve complex issues, but things can get very challenging in Maryland. That’s because we live in a contributory negligence state. This means that an injury victim is typically barred from receiving compensation if they contributed to their accident in any way. The courts could find that a negligent driver is 95% at fault for an accident, but if the injured victim is even 5% at fault, they may be entitled to nothing.

Clearly, this can be disastrous for individuals who are harmed in collisions. This legal doctrine is no doubt one of the many reasons so many people would prefer if Maryland was a no-fault car accident state. If you or a loved one were injured in a collision or another personal injury incident, it’s essential that you don’t admit any level of fault. Between contributory negligence laws and a lack of no-fault insurance coverage, the deck may be stacked against you.

At Tehrani Law, LLC, our personal injury law firm will work to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us at (301) 939-0133 to schedule your free consultation.

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