In a car accident with an underinsured motorist, be prepared for a fight

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage cases are some of the most heavily litigated personal injury car accident claims in Maryland.  There was a trial this summer that exemplified this fact, and it caused quite a lot of internet buzz. It all started when a bad car accident killed a young woman in Maryland.  The insurance company for the driver who caused the accident put up their full policy limits.  Unfortunately, it was only $25,000.

So the young woman’s family did what anyone would do – they turned to her own insurance policy to recover the maximum amount she paid for in underinsured motorist insurance coverage.  She had a policy providing for $100,000 coverage.  Clearly, the life of a young woman is worth that much.  But Progressive never offered near the full amount to settle the case.  They took it all the way to trial, and tried to claim she was partly responsible, and the jury found against them to the tune of $760,000. As an attorney who handles car accident personal injury cases, this doesn’t surprise me at all. 

I tell my clients to expect a long fight if they sue their own insurer.  They are always flabbergasted, because it doesn’t feel right.  That is their own insurance company.  Why wouldn’t they pay?  Why aren’t they standing by you when you need them?  This particular case is simply a particularly glaring example of the problem.  The problem itself is quite common. The fact is, the insurance company is going to put you through the ringer if you want any money out of them.  This is well illustrated in uninsured and underinsured motorist cases like this one. 

In these cases, they only pay if the adverse driver would have had to pay under their own insurance policy.  They don’t just swoop in and pay because something bad happened and you need coverage.  They have to be forced to pay because the other driver is negligent.  In this case, Progressive was using the same defenses the adverse driver would have used if they didn’t settle.  It just feels wrong since Progressive was her insurance company, and was fighting her for the policy limits.

About Southern Maryland Law

 

Andrews, Bongar, Gormley & Clagett is one of the oldest and largest law firms in Southern Maryland. We have been serving clients here for over 50 years. We have more attorneys and a larger staff than most other local law firms, so we can handle a wider variety of legal matters. Each attorney concentrates his or her practice in a few key areas, so you can be assured of the expertise you need.

 

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