A recent social media firestorm out of Maryland has residents of New Mexico asking about the role insurers play in determining fault in an accident, and how that can affect settlements and damages in auto collision cases. — Personal Injury Attorney The Szantho Law Firm has examined the media reports concerning the case and has advice for those facing complex cases wherein questions of fault or insurer obligation arise.
The Maryland case started with a fatal accident in 2010, when one driver ran a red light. Witness accounts and police investigation placed the person who ran the red at fault, and their insurance paid the maximum allowed under the policy to the estate of the deceased. However, a clause in the policy of the not-at-fault driver allowed the estate to collect up to the maximum of the policy, treating anything below as underinsured. When the family attempted to collect on this clause the deceased’s own insurance claimed that their driver was at fault, despite the official findings.
“It’s uncommon for there to be discrepancies this large between what police and accident investigators determine was the basis of an accident, and what the insurance companies conclude,” says Andras Szantho, founder of The Szantho Law Firm. “While there will almost always be different interpretations of how a collision occurred, completely disregarding the findings of law enforcement is not standard practice.”
The case was further complicated due to a stipulation in Maryland law that forced the family to sue the at-fault driver directly before they could pursue a case against the insurer of the deceased, as the law required a judgment in court to prove fault.
“Here in New Mexico you can sue an insurer directly at the same time you are suing the at fault driver. However the court will generally bifurcate (separate) the two parties before trial. So you would have to establish the liability of the driver before you could go after the insurance company,” says Szantho.
“While this case was exceptional, it is vital to secure legal representation to ensure that your case is as strong as possible when there are questions regarding fault or the obligations of insurers,” he concludes. “Your attorney will be familiar with aspects of the law that you may not be, and this could be critical to your case.”
The Szantho Law Firm has offices in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. They handle a variety of personal injury cases, including: motorcycle accidents, automobile accidents, slip-and-fall, traumatic brain injury, medical malpractice and more. They can be reached for a free-of-charges consultation at http://www.szantholaw.com or at (505)-433-7288.
Name: Andras Szantho
Email: Send Email
Organization: Szantho Law Firm Albuquerque
Address: 10749 Prospect Avenue Northeast Albuquerque, NM 87112
Phone: (505) 433-7288
Release ID: 16774