Legal Question in Insurance Law in Maryland

Uninsured Motorists and Drunk Driving

I was involved in an accident with an uninsured drunk driver. This person had been found guilty of DWI. As a result of the accident I was seriously injured and have accumulated thousands of dollars in medical bills. My former auto insurance carrier has denied my claim and has ruled the accident ''my fault'' even after providing the necessary evidence from the court hearings. Since the purpose of insurance is to cover these type of things and the courts determined the driver responsible for the accident...Can the insurance company continue to deny the claim?

Asked on 8/15/01, 11:55 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

G. Joseph Holthaus III Law Offices of G. Joseph Holthaus

Re: Uninsured Motorists and Drunk Driving

First and foremost, make sure that you have received all available coverage under the PIP (i.e., personal injury protection) portion of your automobile policy. Also ensure you have received all available coverage from your health insurance. Do you have other insurance that may provide coverage?

What is the basis of the insurance company's ruling? I also am interested in seeing the evidence from the trial which apparently is favorable to your claim and reviewing how this fits in with the insurance company's ruling. However, please note that it is possible that the intoxicated driver was not at fault. The relevant facts and documentation should be closely scrutinized by an attorney. Short of this, assistance in the form of a properly prepared demand letter that is sent by an attorney to your former insurance company may bring them to provide coverage. If their denial is arguably unjustified,

filing a claim with the Maryland Insurance Commission may also be of benefit.

Aside from the insurance company's non-coverage, a personal injury claim could also be pursued against the drunk driver.

Several options exist and an attorney may provide invaluable insight. I am available should you want to discuss your case.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this correspondence constitutes legal advice and no inference thereof should be made. As always, when confronted with a legal matter the service and advice of an attorney should be obtained.

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Answered on 8/15/01, 3:53 pm
Richard Jordan Hamilton and Hamilton LLP

Re: Uninsured Motorists and Drunk Driving

A guilt determination on the DWI does not necessarily mean the drunk driver was at fault. Your UM carrier steps into the shoes of the drunk driver for purposes of your claim. You do not provide enough facts to assess whether or not the insurance company has taken a valid position. Obviously, your insurance company is not looking out for your best interest. You should speak with an attorney about this -- most personal injury lawyers will provide a free initial consultation, at least over the phone.

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Answered on 8/15/01, 1:36 pm
Lawrence Holzman Holzman Law Firm, LLC

Re: Uninsured Motorists and Drunk Driving

Mr. Jordan has given an accurate response. If you WERE at fault, your unisured motorist coverage would not necessarily provide you with any benefits. However, that carrier may offer some compensation depending on circumstances if they are faced with an appropriate demand from a competant attorney. In certain circumstances, it would be appropriate to actually sue your uninsured motorist carrier. As far as your medical bills, you also need to make certain that you've gotten the correct amounts from your own insurance policies for personal injury protection and from your own health insurance carrier. As Mr. Jordan suggests, you have not given sufficient information in your posting to reach any conclusions or give advice. I would be happy to chat with you about your case. Please feel free to contact me at the address and telephone listed.

Lawrence R. Holzman, Esquire

Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A.

6404 Ivy Lane, Suite 400

Greenbelt, MD 20770

(301) 220-2200

fax (301) 220-1214

Disclaimer: Please note that the posting of this response is not intended to constitute legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain information applicable to your situation. This posting is not confidential or privileged and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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Answered on 8/15/01, 1:46 pm

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