Why Insurers Deny Maryland Car Accident Claims and What You Can Do About It
Car accidents rank as one of the major causes of injury in Maryland. Over 33,000 injuries occur annually as a result of vehicular collisions according to the Department of Transportation’s Statewide Crash Summary. While Maryland law provides some remedies that offer channels for victims to secure compensation, the journey to financial recovery is often obstructed by an insurance company’s claim denial.
If you find yourself entangled in the aftermath of a car accident in Maryland, and you are seeking to recover compensation, for most common accident cases, you will need to promptly file a claim with the insurance provider of the responsible party. Nevertheless, the process is not always as easy as it sounds. Filing an injury claim can be fraught with complexities and potential pitfalls. Claims are routinely denied, and engaging directly with the opposing insurance company can be a treacherous path for an unrepresented claimant. Any statements the claimant provides, on a recorded call or in writing may be used against the claimant in court or otherwise used as a basis to deny the claim.
Thus, having the assistance of a competent attorney can be invaluable in helping a claimant navigate this process. For example, a legal professional can strategically manage the claimant’s communications, ensuring that they don’t inadvertently provide ammunition that could be used to undermine their case.
In our experience, many insurance companies are driven by their profit motives, and some are relentless in their efforts to minimize payouts, conducting exhaustive investigations in search of any conceivable reason to reject a claim or pay out as little as possible. Indeed, claims denials are a frequent occurrence, and they often stem from unfounded rationales. The most frequently used basis for denials that we see include the following:
- Lack of Proof of Fault: Establishing the other driver’s negligence is paramount. This necessitates a robust assembly of evidence, including photographs, details of vehicle damage, witness accounts, video recordings, and data from the vehicle’s black box.
- Allegations of Contributory Negligence: Given Maryland’s adherence to contributory negligence laws, any degree of fault on the claimant’s part part could reduce or disqualify the claimant’s chances of obtaining fair compensation. Thus, if you are a claimant facing a potential contributory negligence argument, discrediting allegations that you contributed to causing the accident are crucial to defend against as they can be fatal to your potential claim.
- Insufficient Evidence of Injuries: Compensation claims often medical expenses and pain and suffering. Insurers may question the severity of injury based on visible vehicle damage, making it imperative to submit all relevant medical records, accurately communicate symptoms to treating physicians, follow prescribed treatments and attend all medical appointments.
- Missed Statute of Limitations: A less common but still important insurance defense involves the Maryland Statute of Limitations. Maryland law proscribes a three-year period from the date of the accident to initiate a lawsuit. A claimant’s failure to properly preserve the lawsuit by filing suit prior to the expiration of this timeline, permanently forfeits and generally bars a claimant’s right to seek compensation.
- Lack of Legal Representation: Insurance companies are adept at exploiting claimants who lack legal representation, fully aware that an unrepresented party is likely unaware of their rights and the complexities of the legal system. We have begun to see many insurance companies attempt to offer quick and fast settlements to claimants within several days of an accident. The insurance will promise to pay for medical expenses and make claimant’s sign a full and final release of all claims. Claimants should be dubious of relinquishing their rights quickly after an accident for a quick payout. After such a short time-period, it is often impossible for the claimant or the insurer to fully determine the nature and extent of the claimant’s injuries. Claimants who agree to these terms may be leaving money on the table and forfeiting rights that they will need down the line. Indeed, Maryland law has gone so far as to recognize releases signed within 30 days of the accident. See Art. § 5-401.1(a) of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.
Engaging a Maryland car accident lawyer can become an indispensable strategy in safeguarding your rights and adeptly navigating the intricate terrain of insurance claims.
Our team of experienced legal professionals stands ready to advocate on your behalf. We offer a no-cost consultation to meticulously review your case and chart the optimal path forward. Protecting your rights is our paramount concern – do not traverse this challenging journey alone. Contact us to secure the legal support you need and deserve.
By Justin Katz, October 23, 2023