Recently, in August of 2011, the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, the Paducah Division, decided a case involving a jet ski accident. The Plaintiffs’ son was killed while operating a jet ski on Kentucky Lake. (Thies v. Life Ins. Co., 2011 WL 3624673 (W.D. Ky.)) In the Kentucky boating accident report, it stated that the decedent ramped off an under water rock and struck an above water rock causing the decedent to strike the above water rock causing him to fall into the water and drown.
The issue in this case had to do with a life insurance policy and whether or not the decedent’s family was entitled to any of the monies. The coroner’s report listed the death certificate as an accident from blunt force injuries from jet ski accident and acute alcohol intoxication as a significant condition contributing to his death. The Kentucky boating accident report listed excessive speed, alcohol use, and operator inattention as contributing factors. Also that he did not have a life vest on.
The Kentucky insurance adjuster denied the claim stating that the accident was not covered per the exclusion for intentionally self-inflicted injuries. The adjuster stated that the voluntary ingestion of alcohol was an intentional act. So Plaintiff’s Louisville personal injury lawyer sued.
On this issue of whether the act was intentional or not, there were a few cases that were very similar that had been recently decided. One case had to do with a Kentucky car accident and the driver driving intoxicated and whether the accident was reasonably foreseeable. In that case the Court held that the denial of the policy was unreasonable. In another Kentucky car accident case, the court held that a drunk driver with a BAC of .321 was a valid reason to deny the policy and that the accident was reasonably foreseeable and thus not an accident.
In the jet ski accident case at hand, the court differed this case from the above two mentioned cases. The court looked at the policy and at what was a ‘covered accident’ and what was not. The court looked at what was or was not an unforeseen event. The insurance company decided that the accident was not unforeseeable and therefore did not qualify as a covered accident as defined by the policy.
This appellate court did not agree. The court noted that the decedent hit a rock that was underwater and could not have been seen whether the rider was intoxicated or not. The rock would have been underwater whether he was speeding or not. Contrary to the Kentucky insurance company’s position on foreseeability, it also did not explain away how operator inattention or excessive speed played a role in this accident in light of the fact that the rock was underwater. The plaintiffs’ claim, that the intentionally self-inflicted injury exclusion was improperly applied in the case. This court agrees. The injury in this case was unintended by the participant. Though the jet ski rider did drink and was intoxicated, nothing in the record indicated that the jet ski rider became intoxicated with the intent to do harm to himself. And so, the Plaintiff’s Louisville personal injury lawyer prevailed.
If you have been the subject of a Louisville personal injury matter, please call and speak to a Louisville personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Andrew Alitowski, P.A. at 888-ASK-ANDREW (888-275-2637) or contact us. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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