Insurance Companies Litigate Coverage Obligations to Passenger Injured in Maryland Car Accident

Filing an insurance claim after a car accident can be overwhelming.  Many people seek guidance from a Maryland injury attorney to help them navigate through the process.  In a July 12, 2018 case, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland decided a complex dispute between two insurance companies.  The primary issue was which company’s policy provided primary coverage to an injured claimant.

The claimant in the case was a passenger of an automobile that was involved in an accident.  The driver of the other vehicle that caused the accident was uninsured.  The claimant was insured by the plaintiff (Company A), while the owner of the automobile she rode in was insured by the defendant (Company B).  Both of the policies provided uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage and it was not disputed that UM/UIM coverage was available to the claimant.  However, the Company B policy had a UM/UIM limit of $100,000, while the limit under the Company A policy was $300,000.  The dispute was whether one policy provided primary UM/UIM coverage, or whether both policies provided coverage on a pro rata basis.

Company A argued that Company B was the primary carrier, so Company B must pay out its full policy limit of $100,000 before Company A has any obligation to cover the remaining amount.  Company B argued that the dispute must be resolved by looking to the language of the insurance contracts, which limited its obligation pro rata to coverage of other primary insurers.

The Insurance Article of the Maryland Code provides that in cases like this, the primary carrier for purposes of personal injury protection is the insurer of the motor vehicle which the injured person was occupying at the time of the accident, i.e., Company B.  Although the law does not explicitly state that this rule also applies to UM/UIM cases, the appeals court reasoned that treating Company B as anything other than the primary carrier would be inconsistent with an underlying premise of the Maryland motor vehicle insurance law, which is that automobile liability coverage follows the insured vehicle.

The court also reviewed the insurance polices, as an insured can purchase a higher amount of UM/UIM insurance in the event that her damages exceed the liability coverage of the at-fault driver or primary carrier.  Although Company B limited UM/UIM benefits proportionally to coverage by other primary insurers, Company A was not considered a primary insurer.  Under the claimant’s policy with Company A, she was entitled to compensation only when Company B’s UM/UIM coverage was exhausted.  Accordingly, the court ordered Company B to pay the claimant to the limits of its policy, with Company A to pay any remaining benefits up to the limits of its coverage.

If you have been hurt in a car or truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.  The personal injury lawyers at Foran & Foran, P.A. represent Maryland plaintiffs in claims against negligent drivers and insurance companies.  Discuss your legal options in a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable accident attorneys.  Call our office at (301) 441-2022 or submit our website contact form and schedule your appointment.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court Affirms Verdict for Plaintiff in Car Accident Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 15, 2016

Maryland Court Orders Insurance Company to Cover Loss for Wrongful Death Claims Arising Out of Car Accident, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published August 17, 2016