Insurance companies are in the business of providing insurance, meaning that they are expected to turn a profit. As a result, insurance companies are constantly looking for ways to minimize the amount they must pay out regarding claims made against the people the company insures. In a recent case, an insurance company was successful in convincing a court that a chain-reaction accident was a single “accident” under the policy, and thus any recovery by the multiple plaintiffs involved was significantly limited.
Hughes v. Farmers Auto Insurance Association: The Facts
Back in April 2011, three vehicles were involved in a serious chain-reaction car accident that claimed the life of one and injured several others. According to the court’s written opinion, the driver of an SUV was traveling the wrong way on the highway when he struck an oncoming semi-truck. The truck’s driver had attempted to avoid the collision, but he was unable to do so, and the SUV struck the rear driver’s side portion of the truck.
Moments later, a motorcyclist approached the scene of the accident. The motorcyclist saw the truck pulled off to the side of the road with its hazard lights on, but he was unable to avoid a collision with the SUV, which now lay sideways blocking several lanes of traffic. The motorcyclist collided with the SUV. As a result of his injuries, the motorcyclist had to have one of his legs amputated below the knee. The driver of the semi-truck also suffered lingering pain in his shoulder. Sadly, the driver of the SUV died in the accident.
The truck driver and the motorcyclist each filed a claim with the company that insured the SUV. However, the insurance company determined that the two collisions constituted a single “accident” under the deceased’s policy, which limited the amount available to the injured parties to $500,000 total. Not satisfied with this decision, the injured motorists sought a declaratory judgment from a court stating that the two collisions each constituted a separate accident under the policy.
The court looked at the written insurance policy and first noted that it did not define “accident” anywhere. But the court did notice that the policy referenced the term in several contexts, one of which was when multiple vehicles were involved in a single incident. This, the court explained, evidenced that the parties contemplated an accident involving more than just two vehicles. Furthermore, the court explained that the two collisions were just seconds apart, and they resulted from the same negligent act. Thus, the parties will be limited to the $500,000 amount in their recovery.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, dealing with insurance companies can be difficult and extremely frustrating. An attorney’s assistance may be very helpful in negotiating with the insurance company, and if necessary, bringing the case to trial. Call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation with a dedicated and experienced Maryland personal injury attorney.
More Blog Posts:
Consider the Facts Before Placing the Blame on a Motorcyclist for a Motorcycle Accident, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 5, 2016.
State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Insurance Company in Multi-Vehicle Motorcycle Accident, Greatly Limiting Victims’ Damages, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published April 19, 2016.