When an accident happens in Maryland and the at-fault driver disappears or is uninsured, and there is no other insurance available, an injured victim may have recourse through the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund (MAIF). MAIF is an insurance company in its own right—it insures drivers who are considered uninsurable by the usual insurance companies. But MAIF has another job—it will provide insurance where no other insurance applies. These are commonly called UCJ claims (short for Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment).
These accidents are typically of two varieties. When an uninsured driver caused an accident, the victim can make a claim to MAIF. The second case, sometimes harder to prove, is a hit-and-run. It is not required that the unknown driver’s vehicle actually makes contact with the victim’s vehicle. These cases can be filed when, for example, the unknown driver cuts off another vehicle which causes an accident. These can also be pedestrian cases.
MAIF-UCJ claims may also be made where the other driver is from another state and has insurance coverage lower than the Maryland minimums (now set at $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident). In any case, MAIF will only provide coverage allowing the victim to recover up to the minimum limits from all sources.
When making a UCJ claim against MAIF, the automobile accident victim will have to verify by sworn affidavit that there is no other insurance available. This means that the victim cannot have any uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance, and cannot live with a family member who has such insurance.
Now, there is a deadline to File a MAIF-UCJ Claim and there is a risk to victims who delay finding a lawyer. If there is no insurance available, a notice letter must be sent to MAIF in order to preserve a UCJ claim. Sometimes this letter may need to go out within 180 days (6 months) of the accident.
This isn’t a quick notice letter, either. It has very technical requirements, and may take a few weeks to put together. Md. Code Ann. Ins. § 20-601, et seq. describes the contents of that letter, including the following (which may differ from case-to-case):
1. Proof that the victim cannot recover uninsured motorist benefits through his own policy or a policy issued to a family member living with the claimant’s
2. Certified letter from the employer of all lost income up to the date of the notice letter
3. Copies of all medical bills and reports up to the date of the notice letter
4. Any police or accident reports
Failure to provide any of these things can give MAIF a reason to deny the claim. MAIF prefers to deny these claims, so it’s best to not give them an excuse to do so. Contacting a lawyer immediately after any accident can preserve your rights and give your lawyer time to collect these documents and investigate your case.
If the case is a hit-and-run, the victim can file a lawsuit directly against MAIF. If the other driver was uninsured, the victim will file against the driver (providing notice to MAIF), and MAIF will intervene and defend the lawsuit.
If you have questions after an automobile accident in Maryland or West Virginia, contact us today. We’re here to help.