IT'S NOT RIGHT. Some 200,000 Maryland drivers break the law by not buying car insurance, but when they are in an accident, some of them sue and collect big awards for noneconomic "pain and suffering" damages.
They are gaming the system.
Not only are these uninsured drivers -- between 5 and 9 percent of Maryland motorists -- taking unfair advantage of state law, they are forcing up the price of car insurance for other motorists.
A bill in the state Senate -- it sailed through the House on a 104-20 vote -- would let uninsured motorists collect medical and out-of-pocket losses from an accident, but not pain and suffering awards if they knowingly avoid buying car insurance.
It is part of a nationwide drive to enact "no pay/no play" laws, based on the premise that no state should provide a financial incentive for uninsured drivers.
Indeed, the bill would create an incentive for these motorists to sign up for auto insurance.
The Maryland Auto Insurance Fund estimated three years ago that a similar bill would lower MAIF premiums for motorists by $12 a year and save the state's insurer of last resort nearly $2.5 million a year.
Lawbreakers shouldn't be able to reap a financial windfall from an accident. Legislators in Annapolis should crack down on such an unsavory practice.
Pub Date: 4/08/98