Ambiguous Terms in Maryland Insurance Policies May Reduce Coverage or Recovery

When accidents happen and people are injured, many individuals rely on their insurance policies to help them cover the costs. For instance, homeowner’s insurance policies can protect individuals if something that they own hurts someone else or damages their property. Maryland law allows the injured party to sue the at-fault party in court to recover monetary compensation, and insurance can help the at-fault party cover all or part of the award. However, some insurance companies may try to escape liability for certain types of accidents, relying on vague or ambiguous language in the policy’s contract.

Take a recent state appellate case, for example. According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff brought suit when she was injured by the defendant’s Ford truck. The truck had been parked on an incline on the driveway when the plaintiff, examining it, pulled the emergency brake. The truck subsequently took off and went down the driveway, rolling over the plaintiff’s ankles and causing her multiple injuries, including several fractures and a knee effusion. The plaintiff then filed suit against the defendant, alleging negligence.

Typically, in situations like this, a defendant with homeowner’s insurance would receive assistance from their insurance company. However, the defendant’s insurer filed a complaint for a declaratory judgment to determine whether or not it had to cover the incident. The insurance company argued that they did not provide coverage for claims arising out of the “use” of a motor vehicle, and thus were not obliged to cover the defendant here. Ultimately, the question came down to what the ambiguous term “use of a motor vehicle” meant, since there was no further definition in the policy contract.

Disputes over ambiguities in insurance contracts can be incredibly harmful to plaintiffs, particularly when they are used by an insurance company to deny a plaintiff recovery for an accident. Under Maryland law, when these disputes occur, the courts resolve those disputes using ordinary principles of contract law. This is different from the vast majority of other states, where ambiguities in insurance contracts are read to favor plaintiffs. Because of this, it is vital for Maryland plaintiffs to consult with a personal injury attorney when involved with insurance company disputes to best receive the coverage and assistance they deserve.

Do You Need a Maryland Personal Injury Attorney?

Dealing with insurance companies can be incredibly difficult, especially if an insurance company is trying to limit or prevent your coverage in the aftermath of a Maryland car accident. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, would like to help you and your family navigate difficult situations such as these. With decades of experience, our personal injury attorneys are knowledgeable about contract law and how to work with insurance companies to get our clients the coverage or compensation they deserve. We handle all sorts of personal injury claims, from medical malpractice to slip and fall accidents and nursing home abuse, and we will give you your initial consultation free of charge. Call today at 800-654-1949, or fill out our online form.

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