The Availability of Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Benefits Following a Maryland Car Accident

When someone is killed in a Maryland car accident, their loved ones can pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. Due to the tragic nature of Maryland wrongful death cases, they can result in significant damages awards. Often, the damages awards are much greater than any single insurance policy. Thus, wrongful death litigants will generally try to recover under as many insurance policies as are available. This includes the accident victim’s own policy, under the policy’s uninsured/underinsured (UIM) provision.

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion discussing some of the issues that can come up when pursuing claims under multiple insurance policies. In that case, the driver of a vehicle lost control and crashed, causing the passenger’s death. The passenger’s mother, the plaintiff, filed a personal injury claim against the driver and settled for the full value of the insurance policy. However, because the damages the plaintiff suffered as a result of her daughter’s death exceeded the amount available under the driver’s policy, she also filed claims under three insurance policies she held.

The defendant insurance company provided coverage under one of the policies, but denied coverage under the other two. The plaintiff filed a breach-of-contract action against the defendant, asking the court to compel the defendant to provide coverage under all three policies. The lower court entered summary judgment in favor of the insurance company, but on appeal, that decision was reversed. The insurance company appealed to the state’s high court.

The Decision on Appeal

On appeal, the defendant insurance company argued that the plaintiff’s daughter was not an “insured” under the terms of the policy. The court agreed. The court explained that, under contract law, the endorsement page governs coverage provided by a policy. In the endorsement page of the plaintiff’s policies, it provided coverage for:

  • You,
  • any relative, and
  • any individual occupying the described auto who is listed in the Declarations as an ‘additional listed insured,’ if that individual does not own a motor vehicle; and that individual’s spouse does not own a motor vehicle.

The policy went on to clarify that “You” refers to any person listed as a “named insured” in the declarations page. In the two policies at issue, the plaintiff’s daughter was listed as an “additional listed insured,” but not as a “named insured.” Thus, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s daughter failed to meet the definition of an insured under either of the two policies, and as a result, the plaintiff was not entitled to UIM coverage.

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 for the injuries you have sustained. At the Maryland car accident law firm, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we aggressively represent injury victims and their loved in all types of car accident claims across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. We offer free consultations to accident victims to discuss their case and how we can help. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.

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