When someone is involved in a Maryland car accident, they have the right to file a claim against any party they believe to be at fault for the accident. Typically, these personal injury claims are made against other motorists. However, when the named defendant has an auto insurance policy – as all Maryland motorists are required to have – the insurance company steps into the shoes of the at-fault motorist to defend against the accident victim’s claim. Thus, in most Maryland car accident cases, the plaintiff is actually going up against an insurance company, rather than the at-fault driver.
Unfortunately, it can be challenging for accident victims to work with insurance companies. This difficulty is illustrated in a recent opinion released by a state appellate court. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was killed in a car accident after he was involved in a verbal dispute with the defendant outside of a bar. Evidently, as the plaintiff was leaving the bar, the defendant ran him over, killing him. The defendant was charged with voluntary manslaughter.
The plaintiff’s family filed a wrongful death claim against the defendant, who was insured through the defendant insurance company. The policy limit was $20,000 for compulsory insurance and $480,000 in optional insurance. The insurance company paid the $20,000 but argued that the optional insurance coverage did not apply because the defendant’s actions were intentional, and intentional conduct was not covered under the policy.
The insurance company filed a motion to intervene, arguing that the plaintiff’s characterization of the evidence was different than that which was included in the defendant’s plea hearing for the voluntary manslaughter charge. Essentially, the insurance company claimed that neither the plaintiff’s estate nor the defendant had any incentive to characterize the defendant’s acts as intentional, and that the insurance company should be allowed to submit evidence showing that the defendant may have acted intentionally. If successful, this would have eliminated the plaintiff’s ability to recover from the $480,000 in optional insurance.
The court, however, rejected the insurance company’s request to intervene. Ultimately, this decision was upheld on appeal, but required that the lower court conduct a “reasonableness hearing” to ensure that the plaintiff’s ultimate reward was reasonable and not taking advantage of the fact that there was an insurance policy available to compensate the plaintiff’s family.
Have You Lost a Loved One in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you have recently lost a loved one in a Maryland car accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. At the Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers, we represent accident victims and their families in all types of cases involving Maryland motor vehicle accidents. We have over two decades of experience helping accident victims recover for their injuries, and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney, call 800-654-1949 today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.