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Homeowners’ Insurer Denies Claim Related To Shooting Death


Coverage has been denied for a civil defendant who allegedly shot and killed a woman on his lawn. The estate of the victim filed suit against the shooter who was indemnified by his homeowner’s insurance policy. However, the policy had a specific exclusion related to intentional or malicious acts. In other words, the policy only covered acts of negligence.

To get around the policy verbiage, the plaintiff filed a claim alleging intentional torts and then rephrased the same claim in negligence terminology. The court was not persuaded and in fact, denied the claim based on the policy exclusion. That means the shooter will be forced to defend himself from the wrongful death lawsuit.

Understanding your homeowner’s insurance policy 

Your homeowner’s insurance policy generally covers acts of negligence that occur on your property. As an example, if someone is electrocuted by your coffee maker, they can file an injury claim on your homeowner’s insurance and recover damages related to their injuries. If you shoot the person in the face, and their estate sues you, there is a policy exclusion based on intentionally malicious acts.

This can be confusing. The language of the policy generally excludes criminal acts against the property. This is even true if a third party commits a criminal act. For example, in most cases, arson is not covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy, even if the arson was committed by someone else. If the fire is caused by faulty wiring, that is a different matter altogether.

Now what? 

The situation for both plaintiff and defendant is now worse than it was before. The plaintiff has very little chance of recovering any money from the defendant now that the insurer refuses to represent them. The policy would have paid them the policy maximum, one would imagine, if the claim was covered.

The plaintiff can still file a lawsuit against the defendant, win their lawsuit, and have a judgment entered against the defendant for $1 million, but recovering the money would be much more difficult. For one, the defendant may not have $1 million in assets. Second, it is unlikely that they will cooperate with the court process to pay the plaintiff. Lastly, they can discharge the judgment in bankruptcy, if they choose. A lawyer taking the case would research the defendant to see if they could pay an award entered against them. If not, then it makes very little sense to pursue the case.

Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Attorney Today 

Payer Law represents the interests of injured plaintiffs in negligence lawsuits against defendants. Call our Miami personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin preparing your case immediately.


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