A recent editorial in the Baltimore Sun brings to light a very important topic and something that every Maryland resident should consider the next time they consider hailing a hire car at a supermarket or anywhere else for that matter. Auto accidents can happen anywhere, and while it is difficult to turn down a bargain basement fare price for a ride around the city, if you are injured in a vehicle that is not properly insured, you may have a harder time recovering medical and other costs.
Remember that legitimate cab and hire car companies charge higher rates because, among other things, they carry the proper insurance. As Maryland auto accident lawyers, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC is well aware of the risks involved in riding with an uninsured or under-insured driver.
According to the editorial, taking such a hire car is dangerous. Apparently the risks are so misunderstood that managers of the grocery stores where hacks are operating as “courtesy drivers” either do not know or, worse, they are ignoring their potential liability. These so-called “hackers” operate illegally in part because they do not care to pay for commercial auto insurance, which the law requires.
The Maryland Auto Insurance Fund, which provides coverage for many sedans and taxis, currently has a base rate of about $4,000 per year for such vehicles operating in Baltimore. Hackers may very well have personal auto insurance, but that won’t necessarily cover them if they injure a paying customer, especially if they are operating their vehicle without the knowledge of their insurance company.
As the editorial further explains, hackers do not operate solely in areas not serviced by legal cab companies. The writer goes on to remind the public that hackers operate all over the Baltimore metropolitan area. And because they are not paying, among other things, the high insurance premiums that legitimate companies pay, hackers can charge much less. But that low fare may not be such a great deal if you are hurt or severely injured in a crash.
Should the driver be involved in an accident and his or her insurance company learns that they were working as a for-hire driver at the time, it is almost a certainty that the insurance company will deny any and all claims related to that accident.
If you are injured while riding in a cab that is not properly insured, you should be able to file a claim through your own auto insurance policy — using coverage referred to as uninsured motorists (UM) or underinsured motorists (UIM).
Regardless, if you or a loved one has been injured in an auto-related accident, we highly recommend contacting an experienced auto accident attorney to find out what your rights are.
Hacks are dangerous, BaltimoreSun.com, September 17, 2009