Feb. 2012 my wife was involved in a hit and run. Driver was caught, sentenced & served 60 days in county jail. State farm was drivers insurance and has paid not 1 penny for medical bills. Lawyer now says he is going after 19 year old driver ( who has nothing) for money obligations.
Why is State Farm not obligated to pay for my wife's medical bills and car damage?
These are questions that should be directed towards your lawyer. However, and in general only:
Your claim, if I understand your question correctly, is with State Farm who insures the car that struck your wife’s car. Therefore, the claim is placed under the bodily injury liability portion of the State Farm policy. This coverage does not pay for medical bills as they are incurred. It only provides for a one time lump sum settlement of the entire claim. This means no money will be paid to you by State Farm (except for bills related to your automobile damage) until you settle your case.
Until then clients either:
1) Use their Personal Injury Protection insurance on their own auto policy to pay the medical bills (if they have such coverage);
2) Use their Health Insurance (if they have it); or
3) Try to reach agreements with the medical providers to hold off on collections until the case is settled.
It can be very stressful if you do not have either #1 or #2 above.
As for suing the driver of the other car as opposed to State Farm directly, that is how it is done under Maryland law. Your lawyer is correct. State Farm still pays, you just have to sue their driver and not State Farm directly.
I suggest having a face to face meeting with your lawyer so that he or she can explain things in detail. He/she will have more information and options for you. No one on this website can provide you with specific information as none of us have detailed knowledge of your case.
Having handled automobile injury claims for clients in the past, I can say that clients generally should stay with the attorney they start with. These kinds of claims take time, and if you are flaky with your attorney, you can dump him, but what good will that do you? Your attorney will still have a right to reimbursement for his time on your case (he probably took your case on a contingent fee basis, but if you dump him, he will have the right to be compensated at the end when you settle or win at trial). So if you start up with another attorney, that attorney will receive less compensation and might not work as hard for you as the first attorney would have. Plus there is a price to pay for not being loyal, and there are benefits to being loyal.
Your choice, but you are probably better off sticking with your original attorney. Be patient and cooperate. It will probably result in greater compensation down the road.
(1) was your wife hit as a pedestrian? If so, State Farm must pay up to $2,500.00 in Personal Injury Protection benefits under Maryland law, assuming the 19 year old was insured under a Maryland policy. If not a Maryland policy, then the law of the state where the policy was issued governs.
(2) If your wife was driving, was the car she was driving insured, and did the policy provide coverage for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits? If not expressly waived, all policies in Maryland carry at least $2,500 in no-fault medical coverage, meaning your auto policy will pay up to that amount (or more if higher limits are elected) toward your wife's medical bills. Claiming under PIP will not raise your rates or qualify as an adverse claim against your policy.
(3) Did your wife (or you as policy holder) waive PIP for you and your family under the policy covering the car your wife was driving? If so, then there is no PIP coverage, and her sole right is to make a claim against the other driver's insurance policy, or if settlement is not offered, then to file suit against the other driver, which will force the other driver's insurer to step in and defend the case. When pursuing a claim against another driver, you do not simply sue for medical coverage, but for pain and suffering, disfigurement, permanent impairment, inconvenience, lost wages, etc., and the insurance company does not make partial payments here and there along the way for medical bills. The entire claim is settled in one lump sum, or one judgment is entered following trial. The only way to get State Farm to pay if they will not offer a reasonable settlement covering all damages, is to sue their insured driver and get a judgment against him, then State Farm is contractually obligated to their insured pay the judgment against him. You have no direct claim against State Farm. State Farm's contract of insurance is with the 19 year-old driver.
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