If you’ve recently been injured in a major accident and someone else was at fault, you may already know that you’re entitled to some compensation.
As a general rule, accident victims in Maryland (and throughout the United States) are entitled to recover monetary reimbursement from someone whose negligence causes them harm.
Nevertheless, getting full and fair compensation may require filing a claim or lawsuit against your own insurance company.
This fact surprises some people. Naturally, many policyholders simply assume that:
- Since someone else caused the accident, that person’s insurance company should be the one to pay, and
- Your insurer should automatically pay you what you’re owed… after all, it’s your insurance policy, and you have a contract with them… aren’t they on your side?
But in some cases, financial responsibility falls to your own insurer first — and insurance companies almost always fight to pay out as little as possible, even when it’s for their own customers.
When Would You Sue Your Own Insurance Company (Instead of Someone Else’s)?
Let’s look at a few situations in which you might need to sue your insurance company after an accident:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) — Maryland’s auto insurance laws are complex, and many people find them confusing. While the state isn’t a “no-fault state” and therefore does allow you to seek compensation for medical damages from the at-fault driver and their insurer, Maryland also requires drivers to carry PIP coverage (sometimes casually referred to as “no-fault insurance”). Under this system, then, you have a few different options after an accident. One of those options is to file a claim for compensation under your own PIP policy.
- Underinsured / Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UMC) — If you’re hit by a driver without any insurance (or with too little insurance to cover your damages), and if you purchased UMC under your auto insurance policy, your provider may be obligated to cover your medical injuries, property damages, and other losses.
- When you’ve suffered a loss under your own policy — From health insurance policies to homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, auto insurance, and beyond, insurance policies guard against all kinds of damages. If you’ve experienced a particular loss after a major accident, you should check to see whether that loss is covered by any of your insurance policies. You might be surprised to learn you have insurance for things you never knew were covered!
- Breach of Contract / Bad Faith — Insurance companies are required to handle their policyholders’ claims in good faith. Failure to do so can constitute a breach of contract or perhaps even “insurance bad faith,” which subjects insurers to substantial financial penalties. For example, you might sue your insurance company for:
- Unreasonably denying your claim
- Unreasonably delaying your claim / payment
- Accusing you of insurance fraud without a factual basis
- Offering you an unreasonably low settlement
- Trying to re-underwrite or cancel your policy after you make a claim
- Failing to defend you in court (when required by the terms of your policy)
- Defaming your character during the course of an investigation
- Making misrepresentations about your policy or other matters related to a claim
- Committing violations of state or federal law
Steps to Take When Suing Your Insurance Company After an Accident
Insurance companies can be extremely aggressive when it comes to saving themselves money. They’ve gotten very good at denying claims over the years, as well as finding other ways to reduce payouts. But you aren’t at their mercy, and you shouldn’t have to settle for less than your policy promises you.
You’ll want to prepare your case carefully. Here are some preliminary steps to take:
- Get a copy of the insurance policy you signed.
- Make a second copy of the policy and store it in a safe place.
- If your claim was denied, send a letter asking for a written explanation as to why. Make copies and keep one in a safe place.
- Read your policy carefully and comply with any procedural requirements related to the filing of a claim (if you haven’t already). Also check to make sure your losses are covered by the policy.
- Gather any receipts, bills, photographs, or other evidence relevant to your claim. Document your losses and their value as thoroughly as possible. Get estimates for any necessary replacement or repairs.
- Call an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Schedule a free consultation and bring a copy of your policy with you (along with any documentation you might have).
Questions About Suing Your Insurer? Get a Free Consultation at D’Amore Personal Injury Law Today.
Never make the mistake of agreeing to an insurance settlement without talking to an experienced attorney first. Don’t let the adjustor pressure you into an unfair deal. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
The Baltimore personal injury lawyers at D’Amore Personal Injury Law are here to help. Let us fight to maximize your compensation. Call 877-712-1784 or contact us online to get started with a free, no-obligation consultation today.