Most cyclists fairly believe that as long as they have insurance, they will be covered in the event of a Maryland bicycle accident. However, insurance contracts can be tricky, and insurance companies often try to interpret insurance contracts in their own favor, potentially limiting the amount of coverage provided to a motorist and at the same time limiting the insurance company’s overall risk.
In some cases, the insurance company has little to do but settle a case fairly. However, other cases present unique situations in which an insurance company’s clever argument may result in a decrease in the company’s obligations. A recent case illustrates one insurance company’s attempt to characterize the deaths of two bicyclists as a single “accident” under the terms of the policy.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff in the case was the surviving wife of a man who was killed in a bicycle accident that was caused by a negligent driver. At the time of the accident, both the plaintiff and her husband were riding on the shoulder of the road. Weather conditions were clear. At some point, a driver came from behind at about 50 miles per hour and first struck the plaintiff’s husband. He was thrown about 165 feet from his bike.
The car then continued on to strike the plaintiff, who was about 30 feet ahead of her husband. The plaintiff was pushed for some time by the vehicle and then rolled up the hood and crashed into the windshield. The wife survived her injuries, but her husband later died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident.
At the time, the plaintiff carried uninsured motorist insurance through the defendant insurance company. The policy covered $300,000 per person, for a total of $300,000 per accident. The plaintiff filed two claims for $300,000: one for the accident involving herself and another for the accident involving her husband. The insurance company rejected the claim, arguing that there was only one accident and that the $300,000 limit applied. The plaintiff filed a personal injury case against the insurance company.
The trial court determined that the insurance contract clearly provided for $300,000 per accident and that this constituted one accident with two victims. Summary judgment on this issue was granted in favor of the insurance company. The plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the case was reversed. The appellate court held that there was insufficient evidence presented to hold that there was only one accident as a matter of law. The court explained that, if the plaintiff was able to show that the at-fault driver maintained or regained control of the vehicle after the collision with the plaintiff’s husband, there were two accidents. On the other hand, if the evidence showed that the driver did not maintain or regain control of the vehicle, there would only be a single accident. However, given the evidence on the record, there was insufficient evidence for the court to make a finding either way, and the case was remanded back to the court so that a jury may be empaneled to make the determination.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Bicycle Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland bicycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated Maryland bicycle accident attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have extensive experience bringing claims against negligent motorists and difficult insurance companies. We have a track record of success in our negotiations as well as at trial. Call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Maryland bicycle accident attorney today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Motorcycle Accidents Caused by a Motorist’s Failure to Yield, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published September 20, 2017.
Bicyclist Deaths Continue to Increase in Bicyclist-Motor Vehicle Crashes, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published September 6, 2017.