Homeowner’s insurance policies can be very advantageous for Washington, D.C. residents. It can protect homeowners from claims brought against them for property damage or bodily injury arising out of their property or tortious conduct. However, insurance companies are notoriously difficult to work with when an incident does occur, because they have an interest in paying as little as possible, and so they often deploy expensive legal teams to reduce their liability. Because of this, Washington, D.C. accident victims who decide to file civil suits against a negligent party may find themselves involved in litigation with the defendant’s insurance company first.
A recent case considering insurance policy provisions in another state highlights the importance of what a policy does and does not cover. According to the court’s written opinion, the insured purchased a homeowner’s insurance policy from his insurance company, which provided coverage for both personal liability and property damage. The policy contained an exception and did not cover the insured if a claim was made against him for damages arising out of a premises owned or rented by the defendant but not insured under the policy. The insured owned a cabin in Maine that was not insured under the policy and was the location of the tragic incident that sparked this lawsuit.
In the summer of 2015, the insured’s two children, along with two of their friends, went to the cabin to celebrate an upcoming birthday. In the cabin, they plugged in the cabin’s small generator the insured kept at the property to charge power tools. They ran this generator inside the cabin without opening any windows or doors, and ultimately all four died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The estate of one of the deceased — the children’s friend — prepared to bring a wrongful death claim against the insured for failing to instruct his children on how to use the generator. The insurance company, not wanting to provide coverage for this incident, asked the court to declare that the claims were barred by the exclusion in the policy for claims arising out of a premise owned by insured but not insured under the policy. The question the court had to answer was whether the deaths arose from the uninsured premises or from tortious personal conduct. Recognizing that it was a close call, the court nonetheless concluded that the generator was not a condition of the premises and that the basis for the insured’s liability — his failure to instruct his children on how to properly use the generator — meant that the claim in question arose from tortious conduct, not the property itself. As such, the exception did not apply, and the insurance company was contractually obligated to provide coverage in this case.
Contact a Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. accident, you may find yourself in an insurance dispute with a negligent party’s insurance company refusing to cover the damages. These disputes can be tricky and time-consuming— let Lebowitz & Mzhen, Personal Injury Lawyers help you out. We have years of experience dealing with this exact issue in Washington, D.C. premises liability cases, and will not agree to settle for less than you deserve. Contact us today to learn more at 800-654-1949.