Facts: Homeowner “A” has a house party and while playing dominoes Invited Guest “B” slams the dominoes down on his glass table in excitement and yells some ungodly language at Homeowner “A”. Homeowner “A” immediatly shoots guest in the chest with his handgun causing his demise. Guest’s “B” wife wants to sue Homeowner “A” for causing her husband’s demise, and wants to know whether his home insurance (All things Excluded Insurance Company) will pay the claim?
Questions: Will Homeowner “A”’s insurance company All Things Excluded Insurance Company pay the wife claim for Homeowner “A” causing her husband’s demise?
This has been a hotly litigated subject with Insurance Companies and it often hinges on the policy language, and what’s excluded in the policy. Commonly, you will see exclusion provisions in your insurance policies that read as follows:
Subject to the terms, conditions and limitations of this policy, Allstate will pay damages which an insured person becomes legally obligated to pay because of bodily injury or property damage arising from an occurrence to which this policy applies, and is covered by this part of the policy…. We do not cover any bodily injury or property damage intended by, or which may reasonably be expected to result from the intentional acts or omissions of, any insured person, which are crimes pursuant to the Georgia Criminal Code. However, this exclusion shall not apply if such act or omission was for the preservation of life or property. This exclusion applies even if: a) such insured person lacks the mental capacity to appreciate the criminal nature or wrongfulness of the act or omission or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of the law or to form the necessary intent under the law; b) such bodily injury or property damage is of a different kind or degree than that intended or reasonably expected; or c) such bodily injury or property damage is sustained by a different person than intended or reasonably expected. This exclusion applies regardless of whether or not such insured person is actually charged with, or convicted of a crime.
Most plaintiff litigant attorneys are aware of these exclusions and often look carefully at their facts to see if it could have been an “accident” or “self defense”. Clearly, the facts above can not substiante the act as being an accident or self defense. Thus, assuming Homeowner “A” has a similiar clause in his policy most likely the insurance company All Things Excluded Insurance Company would deny the claim based upon an exclusion in Homeowner’s policy. Further, after the Allstate Ins. vs. Roberts (2017) case heard by the United States Courts of Appeal, 11th Circuit, many new insurance policies will start to define what constitutes an “accident” per the policy.
See Espanol v. Allstate Ins. Co. (2004), and Allstate Ins vs. Roberts (2017)