By: Matthew Tievsky
In Maryland, like other states, every driver is required by law to obtain
auto insurance to cover their own legal liability. This is so that if
a driver negligently hits you, the driver can afford to pay you in compensation.
But if the defendant driver failed to purchase insurance, can you present
this fact at trial in an effort to show that the defendant was at fault
for the collision? Generally, the answer is "no." The reason
is that a driver's insurance status doesn't directly relate to
whether the driver was negligent on the particular occasion that he/she
had a collision with you.
Maryland's Court of Special Appeals recently reinforced this principle
in the case of
Asphalt & Concrete Services v. Perry. In that case, the plaintiff tried to introduce evidence of insurance
status in a context slightly different than the one described above: A
driver of a dump truck struck a pedestrian. The pedestrian sued the driver,
but also alleged that the company who hired him (through another company)
was negligent, because the truck driver was incompetent and the company
should have known that the driver was going to cause an accident. Among
other evidence, the pedestrian tried to introduce evidence that the driver
was in fact uninsured, to show that the company should have known better
than to hire the driver. However, the Court of Special Appeals held that
the driver's insurance status did not relate to his competence as
a driver, and therefore held that the driver's lack of insurance should
not have been presented to the jury.
When a negligent driver is uninsured, this certainly imposes a burden upon
the rest of us, who may be left in the lurch if the defendant can't
afford to compensate the person he/she hurts. Unfortunately, however,
the lack of insurance generally can't be presented to a jury at trial.
If you have questions about the insurance status of a negligent driver,
you should contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman,
Cammarata & Siegel, P.C.