Most auto accident lawyers hate filing MAIF claims. First, there are a lot of hoops to jump through, including a 180-day notice requirement that, if not met exactly, can capsize the entire claim. Second, MAIF uninsured claims are limited to $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident (see our recent post on the increased minimums). Third, MAIF is really hard to deal with--these claims often require twice the amount of work as one against any other insurance company, and most MAIF uninsured claims have to be resolved at trial. MAIF doesn't like to pay out under any circumstances.
Auto accident victims may have to look to MAIF for recovery in these circumstances:
- Hit-and-run auto accident ("phantom vehicle")
- At-fault driver was excluded from the vehicle's insurance policy
- At-fault driver was an out-of-state driver with less than minimum insurance
There are quite a few rules on MAIF claims. Here's where you need to look:
- Insurance Article § 20-601, et seq.
- Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 14.07.04
- Maryland Rules 15-804, 15-805
There is a strict 180 day deadline to make a MAIF UCJ claim. There are some exceptions (for example, a victim must provide notice within 30 days of a liability carrier's notice of disclaimer), but failure to make the claim could leave auto accident victims without any recourse.
A claim must include the following, where applicable:
- MAIF Notice of Claim Form, signed by the victim (it hasn't changed since 1998)
- Description of the accident, including date, time, location, names and addresses of witnesses, vehicles involved
- All medical records and bills up to date of filing of Claim
- Police report of accident
- Documentation of property damage
- Lost wage certification
- MVA records
- Insurance company cancellations /disclaimers
- Recorded statement
As indicated, MAIF doesn't like to settle these claims. In the majority of cases, victims will have no choice but to file a lawsuit. Where the negligent driver is known, the lawsuit should be against that driver. Sending a copy to the MAIF adjuster will allow MAIF to come into the lawsuit.
If the negligent driver is unknown (for instance, in a hit-and-run accident), the victim can file a lawsuit against MAIF directly if they can show that they used reasonable efforts to identify the negligent driver, and were unsuccessful. MAIF is usually of the opinion that "reasonable efforts" include moving heaven and earth. I think most judges interpret reasonable to mean reasonable.
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run auto accident or the negligent driver did not have any insurance, you may have a claim against MAIF. Many lawyers don't accept these types of MAIF claims because they are more difficult, and have strict notice requirements (MAIF must receive a specific notice within 180 days of the accident. We handle these cases--contact us at 443.850.4426, or online for a free consultation.
More on MAIF and Insurance Claims