Articles Posted in Insurance Issues

Recently, a state appellate court issued an interesting opinion in a personal injury case raising an important issue that frequently arises in Maryland car accident cases. Specifically, the case considered whether motorists were covered under a third party’s uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Finding that the third party specifically rejected obtaining coverage for those other than the named individuals in the policy, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ claims.highway

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs arranged to test-drive a car from a local car dealership. While they were out on the test-drive, another motorist rear-ended the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs were injured as a result of the collision and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who hit them.

That driver, however, did not have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiffs for the injuries they sustained in the accident. Therefore, the plaintiffs then named the insurance company that wrote the policy for the car dealership as a party to the case, seeking to obtain coverage under that policy’s UIM coverage.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case requiring the court to interpret an insurance policy to determine if the policy provided uninsured motorist (UIM) protection to a man who was killed by an uninsured driver. Ultimately, the court concluded that the decedent’s employer’s insurance policy did not provide UIM coverage to the decedent and, thus, rejected the plaintiff’s claim.

Insurance ContractThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in this case was the estate of a man who was killed when he was struck by a driver who was high on methamphetamine while he was riding his personal lawnmower. The at-fault driver was not insured.

The estate of the decedent filed a UIM claim under the decedent’s employer’s insurance policy, which contained coverage for UIM benefits. Specifically, that clause stated that UIM benefits under the policy extended to “you or others we protect.” The estate argued that the term “others we protect” included the decedent.

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It may seem obvious, but a Maryland or Virginia car accident can cause serious, life-altering injuries to those involved. In most cases, the at-fault party will have liability insurance that will kick in to compensate the accident victims for the injuries they sustained in the accident. However, once the at-fault driver’s liability policy maximum is met, the accident victims will only be able to rely on whatever personal assets the at-fault party has. This may still leave accident victims without full compensation for serious injuries.

Wrecked CarEvery insurance policy that is issued in Maryland is required to provide un/underinsured motorist (UIM) protection to the insured. In the event of a serious Maryland car accident where the at-fault party’s liability coverage is insufficient to cover the costs of an accident victim’s injuries, the accident victim’s UIM policy will kick in, covering the remaining uncovered portion.

In Maryland, all motorists are required to obtain the following liability and UIM coverage amounts:

  • $30,000 to cover bodily injury to one person;
  • $60,000 to cover bodily injury to two people; and
  • $15,000 to cover damage to property.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury lawsuit brought against an insurance company by the insured. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff’s eight-month delay in reporting the accident to her insurance company excused the insurance company from covering the accident under a clause that the insured must “immediately” notify the insurance company after an accident. Sometimes these issues arise in Maryland car accident cases as well.

stop watchUltimately, the court concluded that, as a matter of law, the plaintiff failed to immediately notify the insurance company. However, since her failure to provide notice may have been excused, the court determined that the case should proceed toward trial for a jury to make that determination.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident that was caused by another driver. The car the plaintiff was driving at the time was owned by her ex-husband, who had a policy with the defendant insurance company.

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While car insurance is supposed to assist Maryland car accident victims in getting back on their feet after an accident, the unfortunate reality is that insurance companies are often looking for ways to get out of paying up. However, an insurance policy is a legally binding contract, whereby the insurance company agrees to pay for an accident victim’s costs related to covered claims.

Logging TruckThus, when an insurance company refuses to pay out on a claim, or it only offers a low-ball settlement offer that does not cover an accident victim’s costs, the accident victim has the right to ask a court to compel the insurance company to pay. When courts are confronted with these cases, they usually start by reading the policy language and determining if the claim was covered.

A recent case illustrates the difficulties one accident victim had when filing an uninsured motorist claim based on injuries that occurred while operating a vehicle that was furnished for his everyday use.

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Recently, an appellate court issued an opinion in a car accident case involving a plaintiff who signed a waiver of liability in favor of the defendant insurance company. The case required the court to determine if the waiver was valid. Finding that there was some evidence suggesting that the plaintiff was subject to undue influence when asked to sign the release, the court permitted the plaintiff’s case to proceed toward trial for a jury to make the final determination.

ContractThe case presents an important issue for Maryland car accident victims who may have signed a release of liability that grossly favors the other side.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with another driver. The facts suggested that the other driver was at fault. The at-fault driver’s insurance company sent out an insurance adjuster to discuss the possibility of settling the plaintiff’s claim.

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An insurance company can be a Maryland car accident victim’s best friend or worst enemy. While the stated purpose of insurance is to compensate a claimant for losses that occur due to a covered incident, in practice, insurance companies view most claims with an eye toward denial. This is because insurance companies are for-profit companies that rely on taking in more money in premiums than they pay out in claims.

TimerThat being the case, insurance contracts are often written in a way that gives the insurance company many “loopholes” to get out of satisfying even a meritorious claim. For example, almost all insurance policies have strict notice requirements that require an accident victim to provide the company with notice of the accident within a certain amount of time. The way that insurance contracts are written, if an accident victim fails to provide timely notice, the insurance company is not bound by the terms of the agreement and can deny an otherwise valid claim.

A recent case illustrates the frustration one motorist experienced when trying to recover compensation for his injuries after a car accident. While the case arose in Georgia, it illustrates an important point for Maryland car accident victims.

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Earlier last month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the importance of expert witness selection and preparation in Maryland car accident cases involving disputed medical evidence. The court ultimately concluded that the jury was acting within its purview when it found that the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert witness was speculative, and thus it declined to find that the plaintiff suffered a permanent injury as a result of the accident.

X-RayThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident that was caused by another driver. The record is not clear if the other driver had no insurance, or if they had insufficient insurance to cover the plaintiff’s injuries, but regardless, the plaintiff ended up filing a claim with her own insurance company under the underinsured/uninsured motorist provision.

The plaintiff presented one expert witness, a neurosurgeon who had operated on the plaintiff. The neurosurgeon testified that the plaintiff suffered from degenerative disc disease, that it was possible the plaintiff would require surgery, and that the accident likely increased that chance by 15-20%. However, the neurosurgeon also testified that he had no idea how long the plaintiff’s degenerative disc disease had been developing.

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Earlier this month, an appellate court in Montana issued a written opinion in a personal injury case dealing with a plaintiff’s pre-trial motion for summary judgment on the issue of whether her future medical care was causally related to the car accident. The case is instructive to Maryland car accident victims because it shows the type of analysis courts will conduct when reviewing claims for future medical expenses. Ultimately in this case, the court concluded that there was conflicting evidence regarding the cause of the plaintiff’s ongoing medical needs, and thus summary judgment in the plaintiff’s favor was not appropriate.

X-Ray of SpineThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a driver who was insured by the defendant insurance company. On the day of the accident, the plaintiff went to the doctor and was diagnosed with whiplash and related injuries.

The plaintiff’s attorney requested that the insurance company make advance payment of medical expenses, which totaled approximately $53,000 over the course of the next six months. At that time, the insurance company requested the plaintiff to undergo a medical evaluation to determine if the continued medical care she was requesting was a result of the accident. The plaintiff refused the evaluation, and the insurance company denied all future payment for medical expenses.

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Due to Maryland’s small size and healthy economy, many people who work in Maryland live outside the state and commute into Maryland on a daily basis. As a natural result, some Maryland car accidents will involve out-of-state motorists. While this may not necessarily present a problem for an accident victim, there are several potential issues that should be considered to avoid a problem down the road.

US MapA recent opinion from a Georgia court illustrates the potential problems that an accident victim who is injured in an accident caused by an out-of-state motorist may face when seeking compensation for their injuries.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a Georgia resident who was attending school in California. Her car was registered and insured in Georgia. One day while driving in California, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident with another motorist. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the other motorist.

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