In the moments after a Maryland car accident, emotions are running high, and adrenaline is pumping. For these reasons, a motorist’s statements in the immediate aftermath of an accident may not be accurate or complete. However, as a recent case illustrates, statements made at any time after an accident may be used against the person making them, even if they later disavow the statement.
The Facts of the Case
In 2015, the plaintiff was involved in a car accident with a driver who was not insured. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, but since he did not have insurance, the plaintiff also named her father’s insurance company as a party to the lawsuit, relying on the policy’s uninsured motorist protection.
The insurance company sent a list of questions to the plaintiff, called an interrogatory. One of the questions contained in the interrogatory asked who lived with the plaintiff. The plaintiff responded that she lived with her three children. Later, in a deposition, the plaintiff stated that she lived across the street from her father.
A few months after that, the plaintiff filed an affidavit stating that she was previously mistaken about where her father lived, and she clarified that her father had moved in with her back in 2013. The plaintiff explained that her prior testimony was a mistake, and she did not realize it until talking to her father.
The insurance company denied the claim, pointing to the coverage language in the policy that extended coverage to “resident relatives” of the insured. The company claimed that since the plaintiff admitted that she did not live with her father at the time of the accident, she was not covered under his policy.
The Court’s Decision
The lower court resolved the plaintiff’s conflicting testimony in her favor, and it held that she was covered under her father’s policy. However, on appeal, the court reversed that decision, finding that the plaintiff’s own contradictory words created a material issue of fact that should be resolved by a jury.
The court explained that a party’s conflicting testimony may, but will not necessarily, be construed against her, depending on whether there was a satisfactory explanation given for the conflict. Here, the court explained that her testimony was not technically being used against her, in that the court was not assuming her later statement to be untrue. However, the testimony that she did not reside with her father at the time of the accident was on the record, and it did create an issue that needed to be resolved. Thus, summary judgment was not appropriate.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Insurance companies are supposed to be there for accident victims, but in practice that is rarely the case. More often than not, insurance companies are looking for ways to deny coverage, or to settle a case for pennies on the dollar. At Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, we represent Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. victims in all personal injury cases, including cases involving difficult insurance companies. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Finds Transportation Department Not Liable for Misplaced Construction Barrel, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 2, 2018.
Maryland Court Discusses Admissibility of Medical Records in Recent Car Accident Case, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 16, 2018.