Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the difficulties that Maryland car accident victims may encounter when trying to file a claim against their own insurance policy’s underinsured motorist provision. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s untimely notice of claim violated the language in the insurance policy, and if so, whether the insurance company was proper in denying the plaintiff’s claim. Ultimately, the court found in favor of the insurance company on both issues and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was injured after she was involved in a car accident while she was a passenger in a friend’s vehicle. The accident occurred in September 2010. Approximately two years later, the plaintiff filed a claim against the other driver, who she claimed was responsible for the accident and her injuries. That claim was eventually settled for approximately $36,000, which was the remaining amount left under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy after the other victims of the accident had been compensated.
The settlement with the other driver failed to cover all of the plaintiff’s expenses related to the accident, so the plaintiff then filed a claim with her own insurance policy, under the underinsured motorist provision. That policy contained language requiring that the insurance company be promptly notified of any accident, as well as any court case that was filed. Specifically, the policy stated that the insurance company “must be notified promptly of how, when and where the accident or loss happened,” and the insured must “promptly send us copies of the legal papers if a suit is brought.”
The insurance company filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the uncontroverted evidence showed that the plaintiff did not notify the insurance company of the accident until after over four and a half years had passed. This, the insurance company argued, was a violation of the policy language. Thus, the insurance company claimed it was under no duty to approve the plaintiff’s claim. The plaintiff’s response was that she did not know that she would need to file a claim with her own insurance company until after she found out that the at-fault driver’s policy could only provide her with $36,000.
The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument, determining that she did not comply with the insurance contract, and therefore, the insurance company was not required to approve her claim. The court explained that an insurance policy is a contract, and each party to the contract is bound by the terms contained therein. Since the plaintiff did not comply with the clear terms of the insurance contract, the insurance company was not obligated to approve her claim.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Dealing with insurance companies in the aftermath of an accident, however, can be taxing. And depending on how the situation is handled, certain rights may be forfeited. To ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the recovery process, contact one of the dedicated Maryland car accident attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent accident victims in all kinds of personal injury cases, including Maryland car accident claims. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Maryland Car Accidents Involving Out-of-State Drivers, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published December 4, 2017.
Court Determines Photographs of Defect in Road Did Not Show Government’s Knowledge of the Hazard, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published November 23, 2017.