When someone dies on a homeowner's property, the natural assumption is the person's homeowner's insurance will pay the court award or settlement if the decedent's family decides to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This isn't necessarily true, though. Whether a home insurance policy will pay a wrongful death claim depends on the language in the policy and the circumstances of the incident. Here's what you need to know.
Policies Only Pay When the Homeowner is Liable
Just because someone dies in an individual's home doesn't mean the homeowner's policy will automatically cover the decedent's death and the family's damages and losses. The homeowner must be liable for the individual's death in some way before the insurance provider will even consider paying the claim.
For instance, a person trips on a broken piece of sidewalk on the homeowner's property, falls, and dies from a severe head injury. The homeowner would be held liable for the incident because he or she is legally required to ensure the property is safe for visitors.
On the other hand, the decedent has a heart attack and hits his or her head on a table while collapsing and dies from head trauma. The homeowner likely wouldn't be responsible in this incident since the cause of the person falling wasn't the result of anything the property owner did (or failed to do).
To prevail in both your lawsuit and getting the insurance policy to pay for your damages, you would need to prove liability on the homeowner's part. Thus, it's important to provide your attorney will available information about the incident so he or she can determine how the homeowner is responsible and apply the associated legal tors to hold the property owner accountable in court.
Some Policies Exclude Certain Types of Death
Another issue you may run into is the insurance policy itself excludes certain types of injuries and death. For example, gun injuries caused by accident may be covered, but intentional shootings may not. So, the policy may pay for the death of child who accidentally shot himself. However, the insurance company may deny a claim involving a murder-suicide.
Each insurance company is different. Therefore, it will be very important to get a copy of the homeowner's policy to determine what is and isn't covered. If the policy excludes the circumstances of the decedent's death, then you will have to sue the homeowner directly for damages and employ other methods to collect the money awarded.
To learn more about this issue or help with your wrongful death case, contact a wrongful death attorney.