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How Does GEICO Deny So Many Baltimore Car Accident Claims?

Every personal injury lawsuit that has ever gone to trial in Baltimore likely started life as a denied insurance claim. As a personal injury trial attorney taking these cases to trial for nearly 30 years, I can state with certainty insurance companies can and do deny a car accident claim for several reasons, which can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, the injury, or potentially, and the terms of the insurance policy. GEICO is one of the nation’s largest personal injury insurance companies and denies or minimizes personal injury cases based out of Baltimore on a routine basis. If the claim is denied, an injured person has two options: pack it in or pick up the phone a call an experienced Baltimore personal injury and car accident lawyer. Here are some common reasons for claim denials:

Lack of Coverage: If the policyholder’s insurance policy does not cover the type of accident or damage incurred, the claim may be denied. For example, if a policy only provides liability coverage and not collision coverage, damage to the policyholder’s own vehicle may not be covered. If a policyholder had an accident, and the at-fault driver did not have liability coverage, the policyholder would look to their own Baltimore Uninsured Motorist [“UM” in Maryland] coverage.

Policy Exclusions: Insurance policies often have exclusions that specify certain situations or conditions that are not covered. For instance, intentional acts, racing, or using the vehicle for illegal purposes may be excluded. In Maryland, specific drivers can be excluded.

Disputed Liability: If there is a dispute about who is at fault for the accident, GEICO may investigate the circumstances. If they determine that their insured was at fault, they may deny the claim for damages. The notion that an insurance company will always take the word of its insured is galling to many of my personal injury clients who have a different version of their Baltimore city car accident.

In my practice, I spend a lot of time and effort advocating for what compensation GEIOCO should provide to my injured clients. Indeed, that is at the heart and soul of any Baltimore-based car accident or personal injury law practice. But, for obvious reasons, I’ve seen circumstances where a  legitimately injured person has engaged in some conduct the defeats their claim. Examples might include:

Non-Payment of Premiums: If the policyholder has not paid their insurance premiums and the policy has lapsed or been canceled, the insurance company may deny any claims that arise during the period of non-payment.

Misrepresentation: If the policyholder provides false or inaccurate information when applying for insurance or when filing a claim, the insurance company may deny the claim for misrepresentation or fraud. We do not handle claims concerning fraud or misrepresentation.

Late Notification: Most insurance policies require policyholders to report accidents and file claims promptly. If a policyholder delays reporting an accident or filing a claim beyond the specified time frame, the insurance company may deny the claim.

Failure to Cooperate: Policyholders are typically required to cooperate with the insurance company’s investigation. If the policyholder fails to provide necessary information, documentation, or assistance during the claims process, the claim may be denied.

GEICO’S USE OF THE ‘ONLY SOFT TISSUE’ PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM DENIAL

To be fair to GEICO, this line of argument is designed more to minimize a legitimate Baltimore-based claim for personal injury rather than to defeat it. GEICO’s tact here is to acknowledge that a Baltimore motor vehicle accident occurred, but then to devote the remainder of its resources to contend that there were no injuries that resulted- or if there were injuries they were extraordinarily minor.  A  favored tactic is to blatantly label any injury as “just soft tissue.” A soft tissue injury may refer to damage to the body’s soft tissues, which include muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues. Soft tissue injuries are common in accidents and activities that involve sudden force, overuse, or strain. These injuries can vary in severity and can affect different parts of the body. Soft tissue injuries may include:

Muscle Strain: This occurs when muscle fibers are stretched or torn due to overexertion, sudden movements, or improper lifting. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion.

Tendonitis: Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon, which connects muscle to bone. It can result from repetitive movements or overuse, leading to pain, tenderness, and reduced strength.

Ligament Sprain: Ligaments connect bone to bone and help stabilize joints. A ligament sprain involves stretching or tearing of a ligament, typically due to sudden twisting or impact. Common examples include ankle sprains and knee ligament injuries.

Contusions (Bruises): Contusions occur when small blood vessels (capillaries) break under the skin due to impact or trauma, resulting in discoloration, pain, and swelling. Commonly we see such injuries in moderate to significant Baltimore car accident claims.

Whiplash: Whiplash is a soft tissue injury often associated with car accidents, and in particular Baltimore rear-ends accidents. It results from the rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, leading to pain, stiffness, and headaches.

Tears in Connective Tissues: These may include tears in cartilage (such as the meniscus in the knee) or in other connective tissues like fascia or bursae. These injuries can cause pain, swelling, and limited joint movement.

Strains and Sprains: Strains typically refer to injuries involving muscles or tendons, while sprains involve ligaments. Both can range from mild to severe, with symptoms like pain, swelling, and reduced function. I’ve not seen statistics, but they may be the most frequently diagnosed result of car accidents that occur within the confines of Baltimore city.

Overuse Injuries: These occur due to repetitive motions or excessive strain on a particular area of the body, leading to inflammation and pain. Conditions like tendonitis and stress fractures can result from overuse.

It’s commonly accepted that treatment for soft tissue injuries typically involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), along with pain management, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery in more severe cases. Nevertheless, it is quite common in Baltimore personal injury cases for a GEICO claims adjuster to state that treatment was unnecessary or refuse to pay for it altogether. The specific treatment depends on the type and severity of the injury. It’s important to seek medical evaluation and guidance if you suspect you have a soft tissue injury to determine the appropriate course of action and prevent further complications.

GEICO’S USE OF THE ‘MINIMUM IMPACT’ PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM DENIAL

This is a tactic that is not unique to GEICO. It is a ploy for an insurance company to minimize the severity of any Baltimore-based personal injury or car accident case by applying a label suggesting insignificance. “Just soft tissue” is but one example. Labeling an accident as “minimum impact” or “no property damage” is another insurance company ruse to get the same point- minimizing the personal injury claim to the extent possible. A minimal-impact car accident, also referred to as a low-speed collision or low-velocity impact (LVI), is an automobile accident in which the vehicles involved were traveling at relatively low speeds when the collision occurred. What is low?  The specific speed threshold that defines a minimal-impact accident may vary depending on the context and jurisdiction [ in Baltimore, there is no such definition] but it generally refers to accidents at speeds significantly lower than highway speeds or high-impact crashes.

GEICO would no doubt contend characteristics of a minimal impact car accident typically include:

Low Speeds: The vehicles involved were traveling at relatively low speeds, often below 10 to 15 miles per hour (16 to 24 kilometers per hour), although this can vary.

Minor Vehicle Damage: The damage to the vehicles is typically minor, such as scratches, dents, or minor cosmetic damage. It may not necessarily affect the vehicle’s drivability.

Rear-End Collisions: Many minimal impact accidents are rear-end collisions, where one vehicle strikes the rear of another, often in stop-and-go traffic or at intersections.

Airbag Deployment: Airbags may not deploy in minimal impact accidents because they are typically designed to activate in more severe crashes.

A Baltimore injury, accident, or personal injury attorney can tell you from while minimal impact accidents may not result in catastr4phicm immediate, severe injuries or extensive vehicle damage, they can still lead to discomfort, pain, and delayed onset of symptoms, especially in cases of whiplash or other soft tissue injuries.