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Can I Sue A Maryland Insurance Company For Emotional Distress If They Deny or Delay My Personal Injury Case?

Can I Sue A Maryland Insurance Company For Emotional Distress If They Deny or Delay My Personal Injury Case?

This is a question, unfortunately, that has come up over the years for some of my clients. When dealing with a delayed Maryland personal injury claim, or a denied Maryland accident claim, particularly where protracted litigation has become necessary, frustration and anxiety can and due mount quickly. Where an injured individual has incurred medical expenses and has been forced to miss time at work, the financial pressures involved can seem to overwhelm many people. I’ve seen a few situations where people have literally been reduced to tears due to the financial pressures they feel as a result of having their claim improperly or wrongfully denied. It’s a tense time. However, the reality is Maryland insurance companies delay and deny claims every day.

What Are Valid Reasons For A Maryland  Insurance Company to Deny A Personal Injury Claim?

Maryland insurance companies have an obligation to act with reasonable diligence in adjusting [or “paying out” ] on any personal injury claim. Of course, as a standard of “reasonableness” is involved, you might imagine that disputes arise as to what is reasonable. Although there are no hard and fast rules, certainly any insurance company is going to be allowed time, at least 30 days, to conduct an investigation. Some commonly proffered reasons for delay in a personal industry claim are for  “investigation” or the interviewing of witnesses or obtaining a police report.

What Can You Do If Your Accident Case Is Denied?

If your Maryland injury or accident case is denied, as opposed to delayed, you really have only one option: sue them. You may choose to “lawyer-up”, you may not. I Attorney Eric T. Kirk recommend the first option. The more common scenario is that you would bring a lawsuit against the person that caused the accident that led to the injury. If the claim is an uninsured motorist claim, the appropriate defendant in such situation is the actual insurance company.

I’ve handled countless Maryland car accident cases that have been denied by an insurance company, but ultimately, we won the case, and the injured individual received both vindication and compensation in court after trial. Unfortunately, the process to get from a delayed or denied claim to a trial can often be lengthy. I’ve discussed in other articles the timeframes involved in personal injury litigation and workers’ compensation matters. A frustrated, anxious individual who has a meritorious claim that has been denied for no apparent reason often poses the question addressed in the next paragraph.

Can I Sue a Maryland Insurance Company For Delaying Or Denying My Personal Injury Claim?

Now, certainly, you can sue the at-fault party in a personal injury matter for the injury itself, and any damages attendant thereto, and the insurance company will appoint counsel for that person and tender a defense. In a workers’ compensation, the suit for workers’ compensation benefits is brought directly against the employer and the insurance company. It’s a separate question as to whether the insurance company can be sued for inflicting emotional distress, aggravation and causing unneeded anxiety by their claim handling processes, standing alone. Unfortunately, the answer here is almost always “no”, you cannot sue, or you cannot do so successfully. There may be extraordinary, extreme cases, involving palpable bad faith and clear and intentional misconduct that could possibly be separately actionable against the insurance company. One case sets the standard as conduct “so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized ” society. Gallagher v. Bituminous Fire and Marine Ins. Co., 492 A.2d 1280, 303 Md. 201 (Md., 1984). The prevailing view is that there is no intentional misconduct in the typical claim denial. Rather, such rejections are typically seen as business decisions, not separately actionable [ i.e. you can sue for it] conduct.

Am I Entitled To Compensation When a Maryland Defendant Makes An Unreasonably Low Offer?

Suffice it to say that there is no separate claim recognized in Maryland for the making of an unreasonably low settlement offer in a personal injury case. Having said that, Maryland insurance companies are obligated to handle claims in “good faith.” This is a complex area of law, and the details of such claims are explored here. If a Maryland insurance company makes an unreasonably low settlement offer to its own customer- e.g. in an uninsured motorist claim- and there is other conduct proving the company was acting in an arbitrary or capricious manner, that insured could have a bad faith claim. There is no separate legal action one can take of a “lowball” offer, standing alone.

Am I Entitled to Compensation If An Insurance Company Unreasonably Delays My Accident Case?

The common, accepted assumption is that the insurance company is not looking to hurt you, they are just looking not to pay you. It is unlikely, although not impossible, perhaps, that any insurance company, has an institutional vendetta or hatred of a personal injury plaintiff. The insurance company that defends their insured in a Maryland car accident or injury claim is, on the whole, institutionally, looking to make a profit. The reality is that as long as the insurance company can articulate a reason for the denial of a claim, and they almost always will be able to articulate their reasoning for the denial, there is no personal injury action for emotional distress, aggravation or anxiety caused by delayed or denied benefits. Maryland law also provides that delay, standing alone, cannot support a finding of bad faith. Finally, as an additional piece of bleak news, there is no separate, standalone claim in Maryland for wrongful personal injury claim denial or delay.

I have a cost-free strategy conference, evaluation and analysis process which I employ in every personal injury case brought to us. While it is impossible to fully and fairly evaluate the value of a personal injury claim during this initial encounter, we can lay the groundwork for that ultimate opinion. Contact me today to begin this process. 410 591 2835.