Maryland Court Decides Time Limit for Filing Claim Against Insurer for Uninsured Motorist Benefits

Every motor vehicle liability insurance policy issued in Maryland is required to include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects insured drivers from paying out-of-pocket expenses for their injuries if the drivers are involved in a Maryland car accident with parties that are uninsured or underinsured. The goal of Maryland’s uninsured motorist statute is to provide protection for individuals injured by uninsured motorists.

Uninsured motorist coverage refers to when an insured is involved in an accident with a driver that does not have any liability insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage refers to when an insured is involved in an accident with a driver that does have liability insurance but whose coverage is less than is needed to cover the accident victim’s injuries. If an insured driver is injured in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, the insured can proceed with two separate claims. The first is a tort claim against the uninsured or underinsured driver. The second is a contract claim against the insured’s insurance company for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits.

In a recent case before a Maryland appeals court, an insured driver was hit from behind by the underinsured driver in April 2011. In April 2013, the underinsured driver offered the insured driver a settlement offer of $20,000 (the extent of the underinsured driver’s policy), which she later accepted. The insured driver continued receiving medical care until July 2014, and in January 2015, she requested underinsured motorist benefits from her insurer to recover additional underinsured motorist benefits from her insurance company. Under her policy, she was entitled to up to $300,000 per person for bodily injury that was caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. In September 2016, she filed a claim in court against her insurer seeking to recover her additional benefits.

The issue before the Maryland appeals court was when the statute of limitations begins to run for an insured driver filing an underinsured motorist claim against her insurance company. Under Maryland Code, Courts and Judicial Proceedings section 5-101, a civil action must be filed within three years from the date the cause of action accrued, unless a different statute of limitations is specified elsewhere. The court of appeals held that the statute of limitations begins to run in an underinsured motorist claim when the insurer denies the insured’s underinsured motorist benefits claim. The court held that here it was not clear exactly when the insurance company refused to pay the insured’s benefits, but because she requested them in January 2015, and she filed in court September 2016, the court held that it the company refused the claim less than three years before the insured filed the claim in court, and her claim was not barred.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you have been injured in a Maryland car accident, seek legal advice as soon as possible. The statute of limitations may already have begun to run. The law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, has helped clients who have been the victims of car accidents who have suffered personal injuries, property damage, and financial losses. Our Maryland personal injury lawyers will work with the other parties and insurance companies to try to resolve your claim as appropriately and quickly as possible. Call us toll-free at 800-654-1949 or contact us through our online form to arrange a free consultation.

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