Who should receive accidental death benefits?
Who should receive accidental death benefits? There have been many court cases regarding whether or not accidental death benefits should be received by the policy holders of the drunk driver who may have lost his or her life in a vehicle accident.
The determining factors which determine the ultimate decision of whether to pay or deny benefits often rests in the wording of the actual insurance policy. Many insurance companies are savvy enough to include a clause in their policies which specifically address the problem of driving while under the influence of alcohol. The clause may provide them with a legal exclusion as long as it cites the use or possession of alcohol or drugs by the driver or any of the passengers of the vehicle.
There can and will always be arguments made about the validity of any such clauses or claims, but in cases where payment of benefits is an issue legal help will almost always have to be retained.
There are some companies which surprisingly do not specifically address the issue of alcohol or drug consumption or possession at all but on the other side of the spectrum there are those that make sure that they go into great detail to insure that they don’t pay these and other benefits which may become an issue in an accident where drugs and alcohol may be an issue.
In most cases if the policy does not address the issue specifically under some clause, accidental death benefits will be awarded. The court will only use the facts of the case in order to determine the award. They will not allow extenuating circumstances to have an impact on the contents of the policy as it pertains to the law.
In other words mitigating factors such as but not included to the level of alcohol in the blood stream or previous DUI incidents will not affect their decision. Also, factors such as immediate circumstances surrounding the accident (fleeing police for example), or the number and ages of innocent victims may not have an influence.
If the company denies benefits
It is incumbent upon the policy holder to be intimately familiar with the terms of the insurance contract. The insurance company may or may not be justified to withhold payment, but ignorance of personal rights will definitely cause a failure to assert them.
Many companies will use every possible argument to support denying payment of the insurance claim. There are also many other technical issues associated with the processing of the claim that the insurance company has to insure that they are in compliance with.If they fail in one of these other areas although they are not necessarily related to the actual case they can be forced to pay the claim against their wishes.
Defining the situation
Insurance companies will often have a hard time proving that a vehicle accident was caused by the use of alcohol so in order to not pay compensation in these cases they may have to include a clause that targets the presence of alcohol in the blood stream of the driver or in the automobile.
Post mortem toxicology reports may assist their case but in the case where drugs or alcohol are not found in the blood stream they may use the fact of its presence in the automobile as a reason to deny awarding benefits.
The Impact of Accidental deaths
Accidents (specifically vehicle accidents) contribute a great extent to the number of deaths suffered in the United States. Vehicular accidents are greater in most foreign countries because the US has the strictest vehicle safety laws and standards in the world.
Most courts will tend to reflect the opinion of the majority when a decision of whether or not to award benefits. The majority mindset in our culture is that survivors of drunken drivers do not deserve to receive benefits brought on by the use of alcohol.
Courts will always reflect the opinions of the majority whether their decision is perceived to be accurate or not. They see driving under the influence as an act of negligence for the most part, but even though it can be construed as an act of negligence some courts may be of the mindset that this act of negligence may or may not have caused the actual accident. This in fact may be true in many cases but more often than not alcohol or drug use will be the culprit. The prevailingargument by the courts is that people exercising reasonable judgment will not drive under the influence of a mind altering substance.