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Insurance company cannot be sued in wrongful death case

According to a state appeals court, an insurance company that carried a policy on a home where a Wisconsin man was murdered cannot be sued by the victim's parents. The effort to include the insurance company in a wrongful death lawsuit was rejected by the Third District Appellate Court in Wausau.

The homeowners were out of town when the incident occurred. In 2010, their son hosted a party in which the victim was shot when the host was showing off a new gun. The son was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of obstructing police and negligent homicide. The young man claimed that the victim had shot himself, but authorities believed that he had fired the shot and then obstructed police. He allegedly encouraged other people at the party to obstruct police along with him.

According to the plaintiffs, the insurance company should be liable. They said that it is not clear whether the case fell under a clause that does not cover criminal acts. A circuit court judge ruled earlier that the exception does apply and, on Dec. 10, the appellate judges agreed with the original ruling.

When a person is killed through the careless or negligent actions of someone else, the victim's family may seek financial compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. In this story, it seems that a clause in the homeowner's insurance contract allowed the company to avoid paying compensation. A personal injury attorney may have the knowledge and experience to interpret insurance contracts and determine the best approach. In addition, the attorney may handle the negotiations, or litigation, on behalf of the accident victim's family.

Source:, "Appeals court rejects insurance company inclusion in Dobry wrongful death suit", December 10, 2013

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