Visitor Question

Can the insurance company decide who was at fault when police said nobody was to blame?

Submitted By: Joe (Laurel, Maryland)

My daughter was in an accident in June. The police responded and decided neither driver was at fault and no citations were issued. The car was towed and we waited for a month to hear back from our insurance company while the car sat at the towing yard.

We later decided to drop the claim and move on because they were taking so long. I purchased a new car for my daughter in August. When I went to get the new car insured, I was surprised to learn the insurance company had paid out the other driver.

Our insurance company somehow says my daughter was at fault even though the police said no one was to blame. Can the insurance company do this? I want to fight this because we did not get any help from them.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Joe,

Your insurance company has a contractual right to evaluate and settle the driver’s claim, and to do so without your consent or permission. The company’s contractual right is based on the language in your insurance policy. However, your insurance company cannot settle the claim for an amount which is higher than your policy limits.

The State of Maryland’s minimum car insurance policy limits are as follows:

  • $30,000 for injuries to one (1) person in one (1) accident.
  • $60,000 for injuries to two (2) or more persons in one (1) accident
  • $15,000 for property damage

There is one exception…

Let’s say you carried the minimum property damage limits of $15,000 and your insurance company was willing to settle with the other driver for that amount. However, the driver would not agree to settle for any amount less than $15,500.

In this case, your insurance company would be required to contact you and tell you the claim can be entirely settled for $15,500 and ask if you would be willing to agree to the request. If you agree, your insurance company will settle with the driver for $15,500.

In so doing, your insurance company will obtain a full release for them and for you as their insured from the other driver. As a result, you will not have to be concerned about being sued by the other driver for the property damage. The claim will have been forever settled.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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