Posted On: January 21, 2009

Buying Auto Insurance in Maryland (Part 1): Bodily Injury Liability Coverage

In lean economic times, people cut corners in places they never did before -- cutting out visits to the doctor and other important things. It may be tempting to think about cutting your auto insurance liability coverage. But as a Maryland auto accident lawyer who's battled with insurance companies on clients' behalf for decades, let me advise you... Don't do it!

Karma is a funny thing. When people think "What are the odds...?" of their having a car or truck accident in Maryland -- and they cut their auto insurance liability coverage to save a few bucks -- next thing they know...along comes an accident. People should re-examine their Maryland auto insurance coverage every year, before the policy renews. Your financial situation changes as you move through life and career, and your auto insurance should keep pace if you don't want to lose everything you've worked for if you're liable in a car or truck accident in Maryland.

Why Minimum Insurance Coverage in Maryland Is Risky Business
Under Maryland Law, the minimum amount of liability coverage required is $20K for bodily injury per person, $40K for bodily injury per accident, and $15K property damage. That means if you're liable in a Maryland auto, truck, or SUV crash and the other driver gets hurt and sues you, your auto insurance will only pay a maximum of $20,000 per person toward any judgment rendered against you. If you're liable in a crash where four people are injured, then the maximum $40,000 coverage has to stretch four ways. You can see how it starts to add up. Sadly, these coverage amounts wouldn't even come close to satisfying a serious injury judgment against you. That's when the other attorney is put in the thankless position of having to go after your house or other assets.

If you've got something to lose -- a house, a retirement account -- INCREASE your coverage for as much as you can afford. Even if you're light on assets, you can increase your coverage to $50K per person/$100K per accident for maybe another 50 bucks a year. As you get older and acquire more assets -- increase the coverage to at least $250K per person/$500K per accident. Maryland lets you shop for insurance on the Internet and elsewhere, so long as the company you select is licensed in Maryland. Shop around and compare rates, and get the best liability coverage your money can buy. In the event you're in a car, truck, or SUV accident in Maryland and someone gets hurt and sues you -- you'll be glad you did.

Next installment of "Help! I've Been in an Accident!": Buying Auto Insurance in Maryland (Part 2): Uninsured Motorists and Other Optional Coverage

Related Web Resources

Maryland Insurance Administration:

A Consumer Guide to Auto Insurance

Other consumer publications for autos, motorcycles, and RVs

Posted On: January 15, 2009

Fatal Baltimore Beltway I-695 Ramp Van Accident Claims Two Lives

A fiery single-vehicle auto accident on a Baltimore Beltway interstate 695 exit ramp has claimed the lives of two people. The accident occurred at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 9 as a 2002 Ford van drove off the Baltimore Beltway exit ramp for westbound Baltimore National Pike. The van hit a pole and a tree and caught fire. Tragically, the occupants were killed. As of our blog publication, the names of the two deceased people had not been released.

Highway ramp safety is a critical concern on the Baltimore Beltway and other highways in Maryland, Delaware, Washington DC, and around the USA. Highway on-ramps and off-ramps are frequently the sites of serious car and truck accidents. Drivers exiting the highway too fast can quickly lose control of their vehicles when hitting the curves and grades of highway off-ramps. And motorists who enter highways from on-ramps too fast or too slow, or who fail to yield to the flow of oncoming highway traffic, can also cause motor vehicle accidents.

Maryland car accident lawyers like my partner and I read about far too many bad accidents on the Baltimore Beltway and other Mid-Atlantic highways, such as this terrible case. A routine drive to work, to school, or to go shopping can turn tragic in a heartbeat. When you're taking a ramp on the Baltimore Beltway or any highway, be aware of the road, the traffic around you, and take it slow. Your life and the lives of your passengers depend on it.

Accident on Beltway ramp in Catonsville kills two
BaltimoreSun.com Jan. 9, 2009

Related Web Resources
Maryland State Highway Administration

Maryland.gov Motor Vehicles & Transportation

Posted On: January 12, 2009

Maryland, Delaware, and Washington DC Listed in Nissan Recall of Truck Airbag Sensors

Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic drivers who own a Nissan Frontier, Pathfinder, or Xterra, model years 2005 through 2009, should drive carefully to their nearest dealership. Your driver and passenger airbags might not deploy if you're in a truck accident with your Nissan.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Office of Defects Investigation, reported that Nissan North America is recalling nearly a quarter of a million Nissan Frontiers, Pathfinders, and Xterras due to a faulty air bag sensor. Vehicles affected were sold or registered in 20 cold weather states -- including Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia.

According to the NHTSA website, a problem could occur if rock salt used to treat slippery roads, along with snow and water, gets into the Nissans' front crash zone sensor housing. This could cause rusting and signal interruption -- which could result in the airbags not opening in a motor vehicle accident. Air bag failure in the event of a crash could lead to personal injury or death.

Nissan will replace the faulty parts with a redesigned sensor free of charge. As of our blog publication, no schedule had been released to notify owners of the recall campaign.

Maryland car accident lawyers understand the importance of airbags in preventing personal injury on the road and saving lives. If you own or drive one of these Nissan model trucks from the affected years, contact your nearest Nissan dealer right away. Or see the links before for more information on this Nissan truck airbag sensor recall for Maryland, DC and other Mid-Atlantic states.

Urgent Recall Alert: Nissan Xterra, Pathfinder, Frontier
U.S. News & World Report Jan. 07, 2009

Web Resources

SaferCar.gov: Defects & Recalls (Search on NHTSA Campaign ID number: 08V690000)

Nissan Vehicle Recall Form

Posted On: January 7, 2009

Maryland Car Accident Witnesses and Insurance Companies: A Race Against Time

If you've had the misfortune of being in a car crash in Baltimore Maryland or anywhere in the Mid Atlantic region, you may have suffered physical injuries and your car may be banged up, even totalled. On top of those damages -- you're in a race against time. My last two blog entries for "Help! I've Been in an Accident!" dealt with what you should keep in your glove box (Dec. 18) and why you should always call the police (Dec. 22). This article offers some insight on witnesses and insurance companies.

Ask Witnesses for Their Phone Numbers on the Spot
It's amazing how frequently people change their stories. If you're in a car accident in Maryland and other people pull over, remain calm. NEVER GET UPSET. Approach the witnesses and say, "Listen, you saw what just happened. I really might need you. Could I please have your name and number?" Most folks will agree to that.

Human nature is an amazing thing. Most of the time, when people react to an emergency, they'll do the right thing. They'll run into a burning car to save a stranger. But after someone witnesses a car or truck accident, a funny thing can happen. When time passes, people start logically thinking, "Oh crap. I'm gonna end up being the key witness in the middle of a six-month jury trial." Human nature's better side starts to fade away and people become reluctant to "get involved" as time passes. It's imperative, in an accident, to get the facts -- whatever they are, good or bad -- locked in right away before people have a chance to think too much. Get witnesses' information, then...

Call Your Insurance Company and a Maryland Car Accident Lawyer
Maryland insurance carriers have their car accident response routine down to a science. As soon as an accident is reported, outside adjusters -- many of them retired police officers or state troopers -- hit the ground running to evaluate what happened. You've seen these folks driving around in the Geico and Progressive cars. They will bang on your door and they can be a little bit intimidating. What they're doing is the same thing really that we're doing as Maryland auto accident attorneys -- they're going out to get the facts quickly and to lock in the story.

Nobody wants anybody to lie, but it really is a foot race when there's a car, truck, or motorcycle accident in Maryland. Time is not on your side. You may not know it, but the other party's insurance company is busily working and contacting people to swing the odds in their favor. It's very important to contact an experienced car accident lawyer who can work with your insurance company and get started right away fighting for you.