A recent case in front of the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment favorable to an accident victim’s insurance company, limiting the victims’ overall damages. Back in 2009, a man and his wife from Waldorf were taking a walk through their neighborhood when a car backed up out of a driveway and struck the couple.
As a result of the accident, both the man and his wife sustained serious injuries. The man sustained a traumatic brain injury, as well as injuries to his head, neck, and limbs. He was taken to a rehabilitation center, where he died about 18 months later. The man’s wife also sustained injuries in the accident, although not as serious as her husband.
In 2010, the couple filed suit against the driver and his insurance company. At the time of the accident, the couple also had their own insurance coverage, through GEICO, which had a policy limit of $300,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. The couple entered into a settlement agreement with the driver’s insurance company for $100,000 each and then filed an underinsured-motorist claim under their own insurance company, seeking to recover the entire $300,000 that their policy covered.
However, GEICO only offered the couple a total of $100,000, which was the difference between the $200,000 that the couple had recouped from the driver’s insurance and the $300,000 policy maximum under their GEICO policy.
The Case Against the Insurance Company
The couple filed suit against GEICO, seeking a declaratory judgment that GEICO owed them the full value of their policy. GEICO responded that, since the couple already had recovered $200,000 ($100,000 each) from the driver’s insurance company, GEICO was only responsible for the remaining $100,000, which would put the couple’s total recovery at $300,000, the policy’s maximum.
The court looked at the language of the couple’s GEICO policy closely, analyzing the textual structure of the contract. Finally, after hearing the evidence and parsing out the language in the policy, the court determined that the couple’s policy was “unambiguous” and that it only required GEICO to pay out a total of $300,000, subject to a reduction for amounts already recovered. Thus, the couple’s total recovery for the accident was limited to $300,000 under the terms of their own insurance policy.
Have You Been Involved in a Washington DC Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a serious or fatal DC car accident, you may be entitled to monetary damages based on the other driver’s negligence. However, determining liability is only half the battle. Figuring out what is a fair and just compensation amount is also something that must be thoroughly considered prior to entering into any kind of plea negotiations. The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, have decades of experience zealously representing their clients in all kinds of Maryland and DC personal injury claims, including car accidents. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney at Lebowitz & Mzhen.
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