Point of View

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Q: My wife was part of a group of pedestrians, many of whom died when they were rammed by a driver.  Admitting that he hated ‘people like that’ and had intended to cause the deaths, the driver pleaded guilty to murder.  At first, my wife seemed to have only a compound fracture.  Shortly after the operation, she died from complications.

Under my automobile liability policy, my wife was an insured.  I made a claim seeking to recover benefits under the policy’s endorsements for (1) uninsured motorist, (2) personal injury protection and (3) death, dismemberment and loss of sight.  The company denies liability, saying that my wife’s passing was caused not by an accident, but by intentional conduct.

A: Our courts have consistently held that the term ‘accident’ is not to be given a narrow, technical definition.  The courts look at the casualty from the point of view of the insured – to see whether an event involving the application of external force was unexpected, unusual and unforeseen.

Even though this murderer admittedly intended to strike the crowd with the vehicle, it is clear that, viewed from your wife’s perspective, the occurrence was an unexpected or unintended event.  Consistent with her reasonable expectation under the policy and the stated purpose of the uninsured-motorist endorsement (to provide coverage against damage caused by uninsured motorists), this tragic occurrence was clearly an accident from your wife’s point of view, and you are entitled to benefits under the uninsured-motorist endorsement.

For many of the same reasons, you are entitled to coverage under the other two endorsements, too. The occurrence, from your wife’s perspective, was unexpected and unforeseen and must be considered an accident subject to coverage.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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